It’s 6am in the morning, I am in a small town near the Italian Alps, and I have finally decided to write my first blog.
I have been contemplating writing a blog for the last 12 months, but it has taken until now to finally put my fingers on the keyboard trigger.
So many things to consider, what do I call it? why would anyone be interested in reading my ramblings, my thoughts, my opinions, my experiences? but hey, here we are.
So, my first hurdle was what to call my site, I knew it had to be something to do with my most distinct feature – My hair.
Growing up as a mixed heritage young lady during the 80’s in the U.K, was difficult. For many years I actually despised having naturally curly hair. I was always ‘different’. I wanted nothing more than to ‘fit in’ and be the same as everyone else. As soon as I hit 13 years of age, I charged off to my nearest ‘Black Hairdresser’ and demanded straight hair. For the next 12 years I continued to ‘relax’ my hair, running from any sight of rain and feeling that ‘burn’ every 6 weeks.
It wasn’t until I started reading authors who are still my role models today, powerful female authors who I could relate to such as Maya Angelou and Iyanla Vanzant, that I started to rethink ME. Who I am, my place in the world and what I stood for.
And so for the following 5 years, I went through the process of learning to love me, warts and all… curly hair and all.
Of course, it is sometimes easier to be ‘invisible, but I had to look in the mirror and be proud of my differences. I may have not always been comfortable with what I saw, especially as my features never really fitted a ‘box’ – Even ‘Equal Opportunities’ forms didn’t recognise me, always having to tick ‘Other’ becomes grating. Nevertheless, I am very proud that my features represent my heritage, my lineage, my ‘her-story’.
Looking back, one of the things I am grateful for and what I think is so important for young women is to have role models that they can identify with, I will forever be indebted to the authors that made me rethink me.
Of course the world has changed tremendously since the 80’s/90’s. We now live in a global village, the World Wide Web has ensured this. Beauty ideals have somewhat changed, I would like to think we are more conscious in knowing that beauty is not only skin deep but in how you represent yourself, your character, your values and your beliefs. Even from an aesthetic perspective, there are many forms of beauty and it is O.K for a woman (for me) to own it (own me). Celebrate me – for me.
So here it is, my first blog, was it so bad? No, I think I could get used to this writing malarkey!
Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, be certain that there will be more to come!
I have always wanted a sister from as far as I can remember, I wanted to share ‘girly’ experiences and have that special bond that only sisters have.
I guess when you don’t have a sister you romanticise what having a sister is like and i’m sure there are plenty of people who would say they fought with their sisters for (at least some of) the former or latter part of their lives. Nothing different to most sibling relationships! I love my younger brother to the bone, but there was a period when we just did not see eye to eye.
Looking back I think I over compensated on my friendships, by nature I am a giver, so I gave….then gave some more. Undoubtedly, I got ‘burned’ on more than a few occasions particularly through my formative years. Nevertheless, I have also had great friendships where we simply drifted apart as life took us on different paths. On reflection, there has also been times when I could have dealt with certain friendships better, but hindsight is a beautiful thing.
As the saying goes, people come in to your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Nothing is more truer when it comes to friendship. In all, every important female friendship I have had has taught me something about myself. I emphasise on ‘female’, as friendships with the opposite sex is a very different dynamic. I have heard many women say they don’t have very many female friends because of the drama that comes along with it. I can see where they are coming from. Believe me, I have had my fair share of drama queens, Medusa’s, secret ‘haters’ and that one friend who is happy to be your friend as long as you are not doing ‘better’ than them.
So, what have I learned about myself? the biggest thing I have learned is to have expectations; yes, expectations. I have heard people say they don’t have any expectations as people will undoubtedly let them down. I think, this is a ‘a glass is half empty’ mindset. I have expectations, and rightly so especially when I have expectations of myself in a friendship.
So what do I expect in any friendship in fact any ‘ship’? loyalty, this is probably my biggest expectation, being a typical Scorpio I am extremely loyal and I will protect and defend my friends to the hilt. second to this is trust, respect, honour and integrity. I place them all second because in my mind without one you cannot have the other.
I use to be the person that gave without expectation, now I am asking – What are you bringing to the table? I know my worth, and I respect your worth. Not everyone deserves ‘a place at your table’, but those that do are precious so hold on tight and value what you have. Friendship is not only based on the above, there is a myriad of attributes and variables but it is a good place to start.
It has taken me to the ripe old age of 43 to finally have an inner circle of women who are fierce and fabulous, who have my back and who I will literally walk on hot coals for. In fact these women are not only the inspiration for most of my writing but they encourage me daily to be the best version of me, not only through our communications but because of who they are. They are Queens in their own right…
They are who I call my sisters.
I will leave you with this…
“True friends are like diamonds – bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style.”
My blogs thus far have covered many a topic, but I have only briefly touched upon relationships. So, being true and authentic to myself, I thought I would talk about the one thing that every woman around every tea pot, coffee mug and Prosecco glass talks about at some point when they are together – love and relationships.
Disclaimer: It’s human nature, particularly in the virtual world to make assumptions or jump to conclusions. So before I even begin, I am going to say; just because I am writing about relationships, doesn’t mean i’m going through something negative. So, for all the ‘internet detectives’ out there – stop, there really is nothing to investigate. In the same breath, if you are hoping to read a chronological history of my love life – sorry to disappoint but that’s not how I roll.
Contrary to my ‘disclaimer’ above, the reason why I am writing this is because I am currently in what is probably the most insightful phase of my life (to date) and self reflecting is an important part of my journey. In the game of love we often look back on relationships and play the blame game, however; more often than not there is ‘her story’ and then there is ‘his story’. I won’t say ‘somewhere in the middle is the truth’ because your feelings, emotions and experience is your truth, therefore it is totally valid; regardless of the sequence of events or the middle ground etc.
In every human interaction be it good or bad there is always a learning curve, a way for us to grow. This blog is more about what I have learned about myself, and i’m pretty sure there are a fair few of you out there who will hopefully be able to relate to what I say in someway shape or form.
As girls we are brought up with the notion that ‘true love lasts forever’. We have all being brainwashed by the likes of Disney into believing your knight in shining armour will come along, sweep you off your feet and you will both live happily every after… life is not as simple as that, relationships are not as simple as that, WE are not as simple as that.
Now, I haven’t had very many relationships, in fact for my age I have had below the general average. However, I have for the most part had long term relationships. Regardless, I have experienced (and also made) a fair few ‘fuck ups’ in my time, for better a word!
Nevertheless, in all my experiences I have learned something about myself; what I am willing to accept, my principles, my character and my self belief. Don’t get me wrong, at times all the above has been tested and at times I have compromised myself for ‘the relationship’. However, recognising and acknowledging this is important in understanding who I am, knowing my truth and being able to grow from it.
I am no different to most woman out there, I have experienced my fair share of being cheated on, lied to, manipulated, used and the list goes on. I think being cheated on was probably the hardest, as I internalised it and took it as ‘I am not good enough’ but actually it was more about that persons insecurities, his thrill seeking, him taking a bite out of the ‘forbidden fruit’ so to speak – the reality was, it had nothing to do with me. Nevertheless, at the time it was a bitter pill to swallow and it hit me like an HGV lorry. In that particular situation I also compromised on one of my principles, which looking back, I was more angered by than the cheating.
One of the things I have learned is to NEVER compromise my principles, the only person who will feel like shit at the end of it is me. In the situation above, I actually listened to my ‘inner voice’ (for once!) – You know the little voice in the back of your head that i’m talking about; the one that is (more often than not) right, and the one (more often than not) you ignore. His behaviour had changed concerning his phone, we had been together for many years so I was able to pick up on the small changes in his behaviour. I did what I felt any sensible woman who had invested a substantial part of her life would do, I patiently waited and watched… and then I had a tracker professionally fitted in his beautiful Audi (with an app connected to my phone – naturally!).
Sure enough, where he said he was going was contrary to where the app was telling me he was, but that wasn’t enough to ‘pin him’. So I waited and clocked his password on his mobile phone, when he was in the shower, I went through his messages and let me put it this way, I saw more than what I was ready to see.
Remember what I said about compromising my principles? I have never checked any mans phone, in fact I have never gone through anyone’s personal things, to me it is belittling and disrespectful. In the situation above, not only was I betrayed by him but I also betrayed myself (my principles) – At the time I remember saying to my friends; he made me behave like ‘that crazy woman’. The reality is, no one can make you behave in a particular way, your choices are your own.
From that experience (which happened many years ago), I realised a fair few things about myself. The biggest thing I learned was to stay true to myself, I didn’t have to play detective or MI6 to get ‘proof’. How he made me feel; from his lack of thoughtful attention, his selfish behaviour, and feeling insecure in the relationship should have been enough for me to say – enough. I promised myself I would never compromise on my principles again, I would never go through any mans phone again, and since then I never have. To me, a relationship is dead without trust regardless of ‘proof’ and there is nothing more important than my own personal integrity.
Another big thing that I have had to keep ‘in check’ is baggage… YES, i’m going there! Everyone has baggage, be it from childhood experiences, relationships, crazy families etc. Nevertheless, understanding how your baggage impacts your ‘here and now’ is all important. It took me years to even acknowledge I had baggage and then to admit it was affecting my adult life was even harder. There are still times when I have to check my reactions to certain situations to ensure I am looking at it from it’s true reality and not from my sometimes clouded perspective or judgement. There are also times when I have to remember that it is unfair for any human to ‘bare the cross’ of every other person who has hurt me in the past.
This then takes me to forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not just about forgiving those who have ‘done you bad’ (which trust me is easier said then done) but also truly forgiving yourself for the stupid choices you made, for the crazy situations you found yourself in, for allowing others to make you feel a certain way. Sometimes, for your own behaviour and knowing you should have and could have done better. Hindsight is truly a beautiful thing, nevertheless, we are human and we deserve to be kind to ourselves…
One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is true forgiveness.
I’m not saying its easy to not allow your past to get in the way of your present, some would argue your past makes you who you are, which is very true – However, for me, ensuring I don’t allow the negatives to seep into my ‘present’ is important; as I wouldn’t be giving mea fair chance of happiness. I guess what I am trying to say is accountability, acknowledgement and acceptance plays a big part in your part in any relationship.
It all starts with you, understanding your limitations, being open to yourself and being able to work on those parts of you that you know are getting in the way of your happiness and most important is to love yourself anyway – As the saying goes, how can you expect anyone else to love you, if you do not love yourself. Even as I write this, I am still on my own journey of self love and self care (who isn’t?!). I feel truly blessed and fortunate that I have a wonderful, wise and patient man who has stood by my side through some really difficult times.
Am I an expert on relationships? of course not, and I don’t claim to be – I am still pretty much clueless lol. However, I do know a lot more about me… I am my own work in progress, that to me is a good place to be.
I’ll leave you with this…
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
This post has been a long time in the making (in my head anyway). Initially, I wanted to focus on women v men in the never ending game of love, but that in all honesty is only one part of the jigsaw puzzle.
So, i’m just going to go with my creative flow and see where it takes me. The title of this post is a quote written as a description on a friends Facebook page. I immediately thought; this is ‘me’ – actually this is quiet a few people I know. Of course, the quote is highly subjective and could mean a number of things to many; from how we see ourselves in the world, in relationships, in friendships, in the work place and of course the baggage we carry along the way.
Nevertheless, let’s be honest it is a bit of a sexy quote. I mean who doesn’t want to be seen as complex, a bit of an enigma – a mystery worth exploring (certainly in the love stakes anyway). On the other hand, some may view it as a red flag – WARNING: This biatch is cra-cra and i’m telling you upfront! lol
One thing I can say for certain is we are multi-faceted, we are different things to different people. We play different roles and characters depending on the required interactions, what is expected of ourselves and what we expect from others. For example, who I am in a board room is not who I am on a Friday night with my friends. Who I am on a Friday night with my friends is not who I am in my relationship. In fact, very few people get to see certain sides to me. Each one of these sides is the ‘real’, authentic, me – my core values are present and remain the same, just my way of interacting is adapted accordingly. I am pretty sure if you look at yourselves you would come to the same conclusion.
It’s human nature to work people out, to see what they’re about, to crack their code – to see the ‘real’ them. But in all honesty what does that even mean? and does it really matter? I can barely work myself out especially when unaccountable variables (aka life) is placed in the mix.
I could go on about learned behaviour, childhood experiences, coping mechanisms, spiritual outlook etc etc but again, I will say; does it really matter? for some yes, for me no.
I am old enough and I would like to think wise enough to realise that there are more shades of grey in a persons character than simply black and white. I am also wise enough to realise, life is not about dancing round a fire singing peace & love songs, nor is it about having to like or be liked by everyone I meet – and i’m good with that.
Why do we feel we have to ‘work’ anyone out? If we are really honest, I think it is more about self preservation. Will this person hurt me? will this person screw me over? will this person stab me in the back?
Why do we feel we have to ‘work’ anyone out? If we are really honest, I think it is more about self preservation. Will this person hurt me? will this person screw me over? will this person stab me in the back?
Over the years my stance in entering any human interaction has somewhat changed. I treat people with the respect that I expect to be shown – I believe every relationship is symbiotic and therefore expectations on both sides are part and parcel of this.
So, I enter my human encounters from a position of trust, unless/until you give me reason otherwise. Even then, if you DO give me reason otherwise, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the end of our interaction. For example, we all have different levels in our friendships, those friends that we know are our ride or die chicks, and those that are more superficial. Over the years I have placed many in my superficial category who I thought were ride or die and vice verse. Another example could be in the work place, you cannot simply stop talking to people but you now have their ‘cards marked’.
For me it doesn’t really matter what someones past looks like, their struggles, their successes, their fears, their vulnerabilities, their strengths – all of that weaves into their character that will shine through regardless. I care about how they treat me in that present moment; which will (for better or worse) impact our future interactions – This is where my self preservation kicks into gear. Therefore, I do not need to work anyone out and I wouldn’t want anyone to try and ‘work me out’ either (aside from the fact that it will probably take you a lifetime… and by that point I would have emotionally grown – So in all, a pointless task. lol).
For me, in all my interactions (from friendships or otherwise), it is all about who you are in front of me now (and vice verse). Where we are now. Who I am now is not who I was 10 years ago or even 2 years ago. My biggest lesson and advice to anyone is live in the present. Living in ‘the present’ is a beautiful thing my friends.
I will end on this quote from the legendary Leonardo da Vinci…
“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”
This post is inspired by a poem I read from a friends Facebook post a few days ago. I saw it and thought it was indeed beautiful, and whilst the majority of us women would prefer not to be judged on ‘our parts’ – the reality is, we are.
Not only are we judged by society, not only are we judged by the opposite sex, we judge ourselves…and we judge each other.
I have heard many women say they ‘don’t dress for a man, they dress for themselves’. Whilst this may be empowering, in my experience this may not necessarily be true, especially in a social environment where you can sometimes feel the ‘competition’ in the room. None more so than in the ladies bathroom in a club – I know I am not alone in saying this and I am pretty sure many women can relate to what I am saying.
I heard a quote many years ago which went something like…”Women don’t dress for men, they dress for other women”. Harsh to hear? Yes, especially as I would like to consider myself a ‘women’s, woman’. Is there an element of truth in this, even on a subconscious level? You decide when looking at your own truths.
Do we really ‘raise each others crowns’? Of course, I would like to think we do on a conscious level at least. However, the images we are subjected to daily by beauty/fashion campaigns and what society considers as beautiful can have a negative impact. Not only on how we see ourselves but also how we see other women. It is almost as if we are pitted against each other, rather than encouraged to celebrate each others unique beauty. Acknowledging someone else’s beauty does not take away from your own – the older I have gotten, the more comfortable I have become in my own skin; the more I appreciate my own beauty as well as those around me and not just skin deep.
The power of the smile…
Many who know me know I smile – a lot! It is probably one of my most endearing features. However, I think looking back I have been conditioned to use my smile as a means to connect with people and a way to ‘disarm’ them.
Getting back to the ladies bathroom scenario in the club. In my younger years, I would sometimes get the ‘side look’ from some women, I think it was because I looked ‘different’. My way of dealing with it was to smile, I would smile directly at them and pay them a compliment, this (more often than not) would break the ice and we would often find ourselves sharing make-up tips and how our night was going! Most people respond positively to feeling acknowledged and a smile does that. The power of the smile is indeed – powerful.
I will ask the question again – Do we raise each others crowns? Maybe (unintentionally) not always and maybe for some of the reasons I state above, but we do have the capacity to. I have had to do some reflecting on this, as the saying goes ‘once you know better; you do better’, so I am learning to make a conscious effort to be the kind of woman I would want as my best friend who always champions me.
Part of this is becoming a lot more aware of the importance of paying compliments. I have yet to come across a woman who does not have ‘baggage’ associated with her looks, and I include myself in this. So, paying a compliment may just make all the difference in someones day, or week.
Accepting compliments, now that is even more of a complex issue for me. I still find it hard to accept compliments, and I know I am not alone in this, it is almost as if we cannot possibly accept with the fear of coming across as arrogant. For years I would deflect from the slightest compliment, now I simply say ‘thank you’ – not say, ‘so are you’ or ‘no, honestly, stop’ but just simply ‘thank you’. I have become better in owning it, owning me.
I’ll end where I started with the opening poem, which I have slightly swayed away from but hey ho!
For many women, what we consider to be the most beautiful or important parts of us is that which cannot be seen; our characters, our values, our empathy and the list goes on. However, our external beauty is something we should not shy away from either, it is OK to pay and accept compliments. In this harsh world of being a woman – wear your crown and raise the crowns of those around you. Reinforce those positive affirmations every time you look in the mirror.
In the infamous words of L’Oreal – You’re Worth It.
The story starts in a sleepy part of India in the Gujarat where a young man with big dreams left to make his way to the other side of the world – South Africa.
This was 30 years before the official indoctrination of ‘Apartheid’ as law in South Africa (in 1948). Having said this, there was a longstanding subordination of black people in South Africa dating back to the mid-’17th Century during the European Colonisation.
The story I was told was that he left India with a few gold coins, never to return. I am pretty sure the ‘few gold coins’ is slightly romanticised, but hey i’m going with it.
Fast forward 12 months and he was with a friend playing tennis and there he saw a beautiful lady, she had skin like antique gold – he knew from the off-set that she was a Nubian Queen by the way she carried herself – he was infatuated. They played tennis and from that day on wards they never left each others side until he took his last breathe nearly 70 years later.
During that time they faced major adversity and nothing worse than dictatorship stated by law saying they could not share their love in the same environment. You see, she was of African origin and during Apartheid an Indian and a ‘Black’ or ‘Kafir’ (both derogatory terms) couldn’t live together. So she made the ultimate sacrifice, she hid her identity. In order for them to remain together, she wore a head scarf to hide her curly hair, she spoke Gujarati to fit in with his heritage and she taught him Zulu and Afrikaans so he could partake in her society.
They had 10 children together, five girls and five boys. One girl in particular they adored as she was like one of the boys in the family, she had ambition and she dreamt of bigger things. But getting back to them, they were progressive for their time. The woman not only ran a household and looked after the children she was also a midwife, he was a business man and he made sure the children and his wife were happy and taken care of.
They never had an argument in public, this was confirmed by all their children, if there were words to be had they would do it in the privacy of their own room. He was a stern father, he showed his authority not in his physical capabilities (he was 6ft 2) but actually in the respect he commanded through his energy. No one in the household dare sat down at the dinning table until he sat down first. If there was an issue that one of the children wanted to bring to the attention of their father, they would go to their mother first. They had traditional values, however they led progressive lives for the time. He supported her with her ambitions and she showed him the same courtesy. They had mutual respect and honour for each other as individuals but also in their communion as man and wife.
The two people I am talking about is my grandparents, they are and have always been my ‘couple goals’. For me, they had the ultimate connection in the perfect harmony between man and wife – and they loved each other dearly with every cell in their body, even though the ‘establishment’ was a threatening divisive vehicle. The daughter I talk about above is my mother, who ended up leaving South Africa to this far off land called the U.K, having met this English man of Welsh heritage. A man who my grandmother initially said ‘would never be one of us, as the English have no culture’, but who later became their most beloved son in-law.
Genetically our DNA skips a generation, so technically 50% of my DNA comes from my grandparents. When I look in the mirror, I see my grandmothers eyebrows, her hairline and hips. My height, cheekbones and eyes are from my grandfather. My ‘her-story’ is clear to see, and I can also see it in my children.
I asked my grandmother when my grandfather passed way, what was her secret to a happy marriage, these were her words…
”The man is the head of the household but the woman is the neck”
A very wise woman, make of that what you will.
I miss them both very much, I am certain they are together again – May their beautiful souls rest in peace.
So, I had my first Poker experience in Turin. I was given the opportunity to partake in a free-roll which basically meant it wasn’t actually gambling as no money is exchanged – hence zero risk. which is just as well, as I am new to the game and am just finding my feet. Everyone was really lovely about this strange English girl who clearly was not a threat. Having said this, even though it was a free-roll environment the competitiveness in the room was pungent.
OK, so my first revelation was that the ‘Poker Face’ is a real phenomenon. There were people there who were wearing sunglasses and also earphones in an attempt to hide their expressions and ultimately the hand they held. It got me thinking, is this how we present ourselves generally in life, to some extent?
We have all heard the phrase ‘when you first meet someone, you are not meeting them – you are meeting their representative’. I guess this can be said it all sorts of ‘ships’, from friendships to relationships. It is human nature to show the best version of you. However, it is also ‘human’ to have many different facets to ones character. I guess the best ‘ships’ are those where we accept the person for who they are and there is mutual respect and understanding.
However, when it comes to our public persona, there tends to be a need to show this picture perfect image of ourselves. One place I have seen and experienced this time and time again is on social media. How many times have we seen posts saying ‘couple goals’ or people showing their material wealth or their version of success? Yet, some of the most popular pages with millions of followers tends to be ‘lifestyle’ gurus and coaches such as the amazing Jay Shetty who inspire us to look within. This is such a paradox – in public we are well ‘put together’, yet privately many of us are just that little bit broken or searching for alternative ways to grow.
Of course, there are exceptions to what for many is considered the ‘norm’, we all have that one friend on Facebook who uses it as their daily emotional diary or as a means to vent about someone without actually saying their name – yet more often than not, we all know who they are talking about. However, in general we all tend to play the poker face to some extent or another.
Getting back to the poker game, there is a clear agenda – to win. By any means – even if it means bluffing. In fact if you bluff and beat your opponent, from what I could see, that was considered an even bigger victory as you had shown that your mental strength and wit out did there’s. I can see parallels in this when some portray their public image on social media. is it a bad thing? I guess not, to each their own.
Of course, there are many layers to not only our characters but also our lives, why should we put ourselves ‘out there’ for all to see – vulnerabilities and all. Especially when many of us are taught from a young age that to be vulnerable is to be weak and to show weakness is bad as we open ourselves up to being hurt – or worse still judged….and so, in public we continue with our poker face.
I actually won a hand in poker (before losing it all going ‘all in’, soon after!). I went head to head because I felt I had no choice but to carry on as I had invested so many chips in that particular game already, luckily the cards in that moment were in my favour.
Again relating it to life, how many of us remain in unhealthy situations, be it at work or in friendships/relationships as we have ‘invested so much’? In some instances it would take more than luck to change the situation. This is where we need to look at our mindset and patterns of behaviour. Even in your ‘weakest’ moments you have the capacity to change your situation for you…no poker face needed.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience in playing poker, I am not going to lie – I was absolutely terrified as it was so new to me and outside of my comfort zone. So I am proud that I actually played and I wasn’t the first off the table, even if my ‘not so’ poker face gave my hand away every time!