Sunday, 24 September 2017

UNINSPIRED and LOST

There are times when I feel empty. It isn't just about a sudden creative block, or not being able to decide what I should blog about, or cover on the radio, etc. I have moments that can turn into weeks, or months of complete absence of self. Do you get what I mean by that? I literally go through a stage / phase of just not knowing what I'm doing, why, of my actual purpose and where I should be at this point in my life. Sounds a tad dramatic, I know, but, this is (my occasional) reality...
Despite knowing better, I've often believed I'm the only one who will go through this. Feeling uninspired and lost. However, I recently had a friend reach out, about one of my blog posts actually, who shared with me their own self tug of war and it reminded me that we are never the only person to face difficulties, nor are we ever alone with anything we go through. There is always somebody else who has been, or is, on a similar path. Not only is there comfort in that, there's reassurance.

Okay, so, what do I do when I feel this way? Well, aside from pray, meditate and listen to upbeat music, I just stop. Seriously. I stop thinking, I stop searching, I stop being frustrated with myself and I start reading and taking walks. No joke... I have many books at home, all of which are motivational and I know of scenic places in and around London / Essex that have a calming effect on me. I also talk to my closest friends and they're very good at, not telling me anything I might want to hear, but, giving me the (honest) push I need. I also create visual reminders of how far I've come, keep positive quotes on the walls at home, I have a vision board and I also write whatever comes to mind without thinking about the words on the page too much (which is how this particular post came about). These things help massively!
I think when you feel uninspired and lost, it can be a great place to be in. Sometimes that's when you create your best work, a new idea, or get the answers you've been looking for to take you to the next stage of your life / career, as long as you remain open to receiving such things by not being hard on yourself over this hurdle. Nothing lasts forever including our emotions... 

So, try not to feel down when it seems like everyone else has their ish together and you don't. Remember, no two people are the same and none of us are walking the exact same road (that and the fact that a lot of what you see online has been edited to portray a lifestyle, or present an image, that does not represent truth). Also, anything worth having is likely to be challenging which is a good thing because, you will appreciate it even more when it finally happens and it will happen if you keep trying

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST - I'm Having Surgery!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

I'M HAVING SURGERY!!

A disclaimer: This post contains raw, unedited self captured images of my abdomen.

Improving ones health and fitness are intimidating, real talk. When I made the decision to change my lifestyle I was prepared to be challenged both mentally and physically. The truth is, if not for the pesky fibroids (which live in the lower section of my abdomen, causing it to protrude) I doubt I would have been able to maintain the changes I've made. 
Eating better (vegetarian/vegan), exercising (up to 1 hour each morning), meditation (up to 20 minutes a few days each week) and even working on my relationship with God (daily) has all contributed to the progress I have made and instead of a hysterectomy, I will undergo a myomectomy.
On Friday 15th September 2017 I had an appointment with a new Consultant at my chosen London hospital and she gave me the news I had been wanting to hear since I was first diagnosed!! "You don't need to have your womb removed, we can just remove the fibroids".

I'll be sure to keep a diary and take as many pictures as possible so I can share the journey post op / recovery, god willing, to inform, educate and encourage those with any poor health conditions to seek advice and the necessary / relevant help to remedy the problem.
I am already feeling anxious about things, however, I am so ready to have these gremlins removed from my stomach and to then, hopefully, regain my former shape and continue living my healthier lifestyle! Pray for me, or if you don't pray, visualise the operation being a success, please. I'll need all the positivity and words of encouragement that I can get!!

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST - You Could Save A Life!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE!

With each birthday comes deep reflection and this year the focus has been loved ones...

When a friend reaches out to you, send back a positive response.

Your friend might ask if they can talk to you in person. If you can't meet with them, give them a call. A Skype call, FaceTime, WhatsApp video call, even, but, make sure you speak with them. Maybe that said friend just wants to hear your voice and so, actually, a chat on the phone will suffice. NEVER be 'too busy' to set aside all of 5 minutes for someone you call "a friend". If you really cannot spend time with them, or on a phone call, send a recorded voice message. There's always a way in which you can be there for someone. To ignore their message, or fob them off should not be an option!

Do whatever you can do, within reason, to reassure your FRIEND that you want to be there for them and will make every effort to do so.

Several years ago a beautiful, sweet, genuine friend of mine (who was like a sister to me) committed suicide. She was 16. On the day that she took her life I had promised to call her. I was unable to honour my promise because, at the time I was living at the family home and was not allowed to use the house phone. I could've easily gone out to top up my (then pay as you go) phone but, I chose not to.

I know now that her death is not my fault, nor the fault of anyone else. I know that her woes had been with her long before she and I met but,her suicide; her choice to take her own life, affected me in ways I cannot put into words because, for the absolute longest time, I did in fact blame myself. I firmly believed that my call would've saved her.... To this day, although I no longer feel guilty, I still feel so awful about the circumstances. Why wasn't the call important enough; why wasn't she important enough for me to go out and top up my mobile?

She and I spoke in detail about her troubles. Until that horrid day, I was the readily available shoulders to cry on, gave all the cuddles she wanted and the distractions through music and banter that she craved. I'll never forget the call I received from her mother to inform me that my dear, darling, friend, whom I had grown so fond of, had hung herself in her bedroom on the day I was due to call.

Sherelle Black was one of the shiniest humans I'd ever met and those who knew her will know exactly what I mean by that. A generous heart and such a lovely disposition, she made my time on the Theatre summer project where we met the absolute best and I miss her. I will always miss her.
You don't know what anyone is truly dealing with (deep down); how desperate they may feel about certain aspects of their life but, hearing from, or seeing you could potentially have a positive impact on them. It might just stop them from making a decision that will haunt you forever! I AM NOT SAYING SHOULD IT BE THE OPPOSITE THAT YOU WILL BE TO BLAME, absolutely not!! I am saying, wherever possible, MAKE AN EFFORT WITH THE ONES YOU CLAIM TO LOVE AND CARE ABOUT. 

There have been times when I've asked / invited certain 'friends' to meet with me and haven't received a reply, or I've been asked, "why, what for?". I don't give them an answer. In fact, I don't contact them again. A true friend, in my opinion, will simply reply with, "sure, when were you thinking?" Or, "I can't meet with you at the moment but, I can give you a call sometime soon. Let me know when is good for you?". No matter what you might be going through yourself, please try not to reject someone who reaches out to you.

We all need someone. Nobody wants to be out here with life's hardships alone. Also, the one in need will not necessarily reach out directly stating their reason for doing so. They may share their work with you, or something funny just to grab your attention and engage you in a conversation in which they can ease their way into opening up about their troubles. Sometimes, there's nothing gravely wrong until your rejection...

So, again, when a friend reaches out to you, send back a positive response. Look out for your friends the very same way you expect, or would like them to look out for you. If you don't consider them a friend of yours, tell them. Quit stringing them along! 

BE THERE FOR ONE ANOTHER. IT'S SO IMPORTANT.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A GREAT WAY TO SPEND ANY BIRTHDAY!

I decided to spend part of my birthday celebration in a town I visited during my youth which I could just about remember.... I enjoy travelling anywhere (outside of London) and am always excited to discover new things, or reignite good memories. Plus, I personally believe there's something wrong with knowing more about places abroad than (the stunning places in) your own country so, I had to revisit Bournemouth on the south coast and it did not disappoint! Well, apart from the sudden torrential downpour that is (thankfully the day before my birthday), LOL!!
Bournemouth was such a relaxing, fun time. The first day was spent sightseeing and exploring, walks along the beachfront, the air festival, plus a chance to get up close with a barn owl! The second / last day (my actual birthday, 1st September) was spent at the Marriott Spa and it was too good!! The staff were amazing, the massage had was heavenly and the facilities we enjoyed were lovely!

Back in London, I chose to dine and have drinks at Sketch with a few of my loved ones and it was wonderful!! The decor is fantastic, the vibe is awesome and the hospitality is on a level nobody will ever be ready for, real talk! If you haven't already, make sure you check out this stylish, classy establishment.
As a Londoner, In the past, I have underestimated just how many hidden gems and gorgeous places there are with lots on offer in the way of entertainment, etc. So happy that I looked closer to home, on this occasion, when arranging my birthday plans.

Special thanks to my girl Caroline, who accompanied me to Bournemouth and a mahoosive THANK YOU to each person who sent me a birthday message, bought me a gift, card etc. It means so much to me that you made such an effort!! God bless.

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST - When The Love is Real

Sunday, 27 August 2017

WHEN THE LOVE IS REAL...

To the tweeters, instagrammers and anyone else who often share their tales of not feeling loved, of being let down by so-called loved ones and who struggle with love in general, please know that love starts at home; with you. The goal should be to fall in-love with all that you are instead of the need for any sort of validation through someone else's love for you. A lesson I have not always found easy to apply.

You are so much worthier than you realise. Worthy of being appreciated, valued, respected, wanted, needed, desired and loved however, first and foremost, you've got to work towards feeling that way about yourself!

Love really is for everyone because, it can be found anywhere and has so many levels. From the feelings shared between friends, to family, colleagues, or your partner, love is there for the taking and should be celebrated as often as possible, but, the celebration starts with you. Do you truly love yourself? How do you demonstrate that? Think about it.

Rarely do I share such candyfloss on this blog, but, my aunt and uncle held a very stylish and enjoyable party for their 20th wedding anniversary and it reminded me just how important it is that we love ourselves before we go looking for others to love us! Everybody was on top form. We laughed, ate great food, danced, hugged, had good conversations and a lot of love was felt. It was one of those family parties when you're reintroduced to cousin's, auntie's and other relatives that you've (sadly) not seen in the longest time and somehow it's as if you all saw one another the previous week. There was a lot of love in the house!

I love myself - a statement I once never thought I'd be able to say out loud. I love who I was because, she is the reason I love everything about (the better) me today. I have a lot of self respect; I value myself and have no problem ensuring my happiness is at the top of my list every day. If we are not right with ourselves, how can we possibly be right for anyone else? I am so proud of all that I have overcome and achieved, I'm grateful for my life; I appreciate all that I have and I love the way I am always so full of gratitude. I'm not perfect (show me someone who is) however, I am a good woman with a kind, nurturing, loving heart for which I thank God. The Lord has been forever good. I didn't recognise this in my youth. 
CharleyJai_CopyrightTylerJayBandidin
I serve my heart before I seek to serve another and that's what I believe self love and being loved is all about.

You are loved. Whether you believe that or not, you are, it's a fact! Somebody somewhere loves you so, so much and they wish words never failed them so that they could express the depth of their love for you. If you've not yet reached the stage where you are completely in-love with who you are, which will enable you to see the true, unconditional love others have for you, you've just got to somehow keep it in your mind! You. Are. Loved.

When the love is real there will be no questions asked. Each of your senses will feel it!

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST - Being A Black Woman

Sunday, 20 August 2017

BEING A BLACK WOMAN

If easily offended, or the type who thinks you know everything, or you believe all black people experience life in the very same way, you should log off from this post right now! This is not the place for arrogance, or ignorance, real talk... Although, if you're 'awake', as the saying goes, you'll fully get this!

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Growing up in London was cool for what it was (we were free spirited, our front doors remained open as we played outside, there were no police on the street and we rarely saw people littering and spitting in public) during the 80's and 90's but, I say that having grown up in the East End. I've no experience of what it may have been like to grow up anywhere else.

I was 'introduced' to racism at a very young age. The mini play area behind where I lived (during the mid 80's in Canning Town) was the spot! Most of the children in the area would bring their bikes, 2-wheel roller skates, barbie dolls, Polly Pocket toys and we would generally have a lot of fun until our parents called us in for dinner. One day whilst playing with a pair of white non identical twin sisters, the eldest of the pair asked me if my skin is "black because of the sun" and if I would look like her "when the sun goes away". I remember a physical feeling that didn't feel nice and looking back, I recognise that what she said made me feel uncomfortable and really sad. "No, I'm just brown", I said. We were about 6, or 7 years of age. I rarely went to the playground after that, opting instead to play on the balcony of my then home. I never told anyone, not sure why. This is actually the first time I've shared this...

IGNORANT YOUTH
You see, the thing with children of the 80's (in the area where I grew up) is that we were innocent. Perhaps too innocent. Nothing was easily accessible, crime wasn't close to home (or if it was we never knew about it). We played with the neighbours' children inside their home with our parents thinking nothing of it, school was formal and teachers used books and the chalk board to educate us. We sat together with our families during mealtimes, we were occupied with arts and crafts and encouraged to read for the purpose of knowledge as well as fun. So, it's possible that very innocence is what drove the elder twin to share her curiosity with me about something she saw that was different to herself, which she had yet to learn about; a case of innocent ignorance?

NO LIMITS
Today? There is so much information that is readily available and within reach for anyone, anywhere, at any time to access and divulge! Sometimes, that can be a great thing. Other times, not so much.

Racism has become a regular thing; a casual event. I've now experienced it countless times (both privately and publicly) and those within earshot haven't batted an eyelid (due to fear, maybe, or perhaps blatant ignorance). However, the absolute worst is when it comes directly from those who are supposedly 'my own'...
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BLACK ON BLACK
I'm done with pretending racism on the whole doesn't exist on the scale that it does and that it doesn't happen within same race groups. The amount of times a black man has referenced my "light skin" as being "not really black", or "not black enough". Usually born from having their advances rejected, (SOME) black men would ask if I'm "too busy ******* a white man to notice" them; am I "a honky lover"? I, mean, really? What flipping century are we living in? Why do these things still happen? Why?!?

(SOME) black women can be equally horrendous with their same race racism too. "She thinks she's too nice because, she's light skinned". "Your eyes are too light. You ain't no black girl". "Listen to the way she speaks, though. She ain't really black. Don't know what she is" - those are a few of the more tame comments I can share. 

"I DON'T WANT TO BE BLACK ANYMORE"
I did not want to be black; a black female, black anything. I didn't (and don't) want to feel pressure from 'my people' to conform to a label they themselves didn't seem to understand nor be committed to. I don't want to 'get behind' anything based on the colour of my skin if it actually goes against my morals and beliefs. I refuse to get involved with something that doesn't feel entirely legit simply because, you and I share the same skin tone!

Black History Month is a brilliant example of how disillusioned (SOME) black people are. Yes, let's all elevate one another by selling to each other at the highest possible prices (then shade, side eye, or talk bad about anyone who doesn't buy anything) instead of just coming together for a hearty celebration of the achievements of black people from centuries ago until this very day. Choopse! No other race has made me feel embarrassed to walk in the colour of my skin, or inadequate; unqualified for 'the role' as though I have no right to be what I identify as based on a combination of both my heritage and upbringing. None as much as my fellow blacks - men and women!!

DEFEND and PROTECT
Authenticity, positivity, hope and prayer. Real talk! Rather than stoop to the level of an individual who has no idea why they have taken the position 'against you' that they have, I choose to accept whatever their views and opinions may be for exactly what they - a reflection of all that is wrong with them and everything that is right with me.

Now, as a grown, super independent, courageous, good, kind, loving woman, I couldn't love my complexion any more! I, mean, what's not to love about being tanned all year round? LOL!!!! That said, before my skin colour, I am a woman and before being female, I am a human-being. I just happen to be brown skinned and the colour of my skin tells you nothing about the person I am. My shade is simply an identifier. It doesn't have any labels attached.

We're all broken, damaged, searching, needing, struggling, wanting, striving, hurting and then some. We each remain students of life as we know it and the best way, I think, to get the most out of the free education that life offers us is to remove the blinkers and walk with both an open mind and an open heart. Free yourself from the chains of ignorance. Life is way too short to walk around blind if you have the ability to see. Do not take your sight for granted. 

I do, honestly, wish, we could / would all get along. The world would be such an awesome place to live and life itself would be golden which is what we all want. Isn't it?

God bless.
Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST - 28 Things You Don't Know About Me

Sunday, 13 August 2017

28 THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME!

So, here I am casually sharing this (somewhat explicit) list of information about yours truly... Feel free to roll your eyes, laugh, tut and even question some of what you're about to learn...

My ideal place to live is the countryside (I'll probably become obsessed with flowers and plants, I think, which I'm not currently a fan of).

Identical twins can bring on a migraine, or have me feel dizzy.

I'd rather do a sporting activity than go shopping.

I prefer dudes over chicks (in every sense).



My eyes are often complimented by strangers.

My belief in God is what keeps me (relatively) sane.

My relationship with God is the reason I am here, literally...
I never refer to my flat as "home".

Love a man in a suit (preferably not black, or navy).

Love a woman who is pro support of other women.

Love food! (My fave is dim sum).

Love music but, my actual industry knowledge is poor :(

Being around anything, or anyone smelly makes me feel nauseous.

Being a black woman is not something I've always been comfortable with.

Being open about anxiety for the first time on my blog made me anxious, go figure...

Being in the presence of rude, obnoxious, disrespectful, ignorant people brings out the ghetto in me (we all have those moments, now and then - don't front like you don't!)
Happy with how much I have in my 2017 Gratitude Jar ;)

Happy if others are happy (for the right reasons)

Happy every time I have a massage, especially a deep tissue massage.

Happiest just after stepping out of the shower - there's nothing like feeling fresh! (Also, not sure why, but, I sometimes get the giggles when I'm bathing. LOL!!)

If I were rich, I'd probably have every gadget you can think of!!

If someone does a fart it makes me laugh and I'm talking full on tears streaming down my face laughing! (Until I catch a whiff of the stench of course)

If I could go back in time I'd go back to the year 1984 (age 4)

If I were in power education fees would be scrapped permanently, housing costs would be brought down to a fixed rate (based on conditions of the property and other such factors), smoking would be banned in all public places (the choice to pollute your own lungs should be done inside your own home), police would be fitted with devices (implants) to record their every word and action whilst on duty, there would be no more annoying YouTube 'commercial breaks', Friday's would be a half (working) day and selfie's would only be allowed on Saturday's! (The list is endless, ha-ha) 
Age 21 I felt that I was done with life...

Age 23 is when I first experienced the feeling of loving someone wholeheartedly. 

Age 30, life changing experiences forced me to confront issue's I didn't even realise I had.

Age 34 is when I finally (for real) stopped giving a lolly what everyone else is doing and became focused on and committed to my own moves!

Thanks for reading (if you actually got this far, ha-ha).
PREVIOUS POST: JULY FAVOURITES!!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

JULY FAVOURITES!!

Hey folks! So, I've not done a post like this before and I blooming well should have because, as you know, I love me a bargain (or 10, lol) and I also really like to let you guys know where you can get some of the best products around for decent prices. Here are some of my recent faves. Enjoy!!

Oversized yellow knitted jumper, size M (Amazon)

Oversized pink knitted jumper, size M (Amazon)

Oversized apple green knitted jumper, size M (Amazon)
view/purchase
I took a standard photo which hasn't been 'spruced up' so, you can see each item in their true form. They are super comfy, casual but, believe it or not, can look very smart and the colours are (pastel) rich! I'm likely to live in them because, they feel SO good on my skin and are way TOO comfortable!!

Copper pot faux plant (Primark)
view / purchase
I'm not into plants and flowers at all but, I do like how (some) plants look in the home and so, this little fake gem is a lovely, stylish addition to my place, especially as it looks so real. The best thing about it is that there's no need for any maintenance, except the odd dusting (ha-ha) which means it will last forever, real talk! 

Peg photo frame (Poundland)
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This is too cute, I just love it! An incredibly cheap buy which you can feel when you hold it, but, it actually looks more pricey than its £1 tag - a fab, cool way to display some of your most precious memories. 

Hairbust vitamins for hair growth (Amazon)
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BUY THESE ASAP if your hair is thin, or fine, if you are experiencing balding, or tired looking hair because, these have literally changed the life of my hair and might just do the same for yours, no joke! I mentioned them in my Instagram stories (I showed a brilliant before and after) which some of you responded to and, while I cannot (yet) compare them to Sugarbear Hair, I can honestly state that, Hairburst have definitely made a visible difference to my natural hair, plus they taste real good! 

Patterned cushions - styles / stock may vary (Primark)
Gorgeous styles, too comfy and the best size! I've added them to my bed (you may have already seen them if you follow me on Instagram) however, you can obviously use them as you like.... Sofa, garden chairs, conservatory etc. They're such a great feature.

Pretty Smooth gel eye patches (B&M Stores)
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Oh. My. Life! I am SO surprised by how good the patches are because, they cost just £1!! The price had me reluctant to try them, however, I'm glad that I did. They have a cooling effect, no odour, are almost weightless, there's no tingling sensation and they're comfortable to wear. I feel and notice a difference every time, which, again, I have shared via Instagram stories. I've actually stocked up! This is a fairly new product so, at the time of publishing this post, it remains unlisted on the B&M Stores website :(

Bath bombs (Wilkinson)
The blueberry & grape + the lime & ginger are my faves! Nowhere near as good as Lush (if you've read my Affordable Home Spa Experience post, you might already know about my Lush obsession) but, the Wilkinson (Fruits) range is really good!! They smell great and give the bath a milky feel which is very relaxing! 
view / purchase ;)

Personalised cotton make up bag (Amazon)
view / purchase

This was a birthday gift for a friend (named Rebecca) and, I must say, it was very well received! Lol!! It's simple, neat, individual (owing to it being personalised) and is easy to clean (washing machine). It's also spacious and, as it's cotton, sits comfortably in any bag. Fab little purchase! So much so that I ordered one for myself too!!

Really hope you found something in this post that you like and will treat yourself too. After all, you're worth it! ;) 

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST: How To Succeed

Sunday, 30 July 2017

HOW TO SUCCEED

*Change your perception / belief of what it means to "be successful"
Make an effort to look for a minimum of 4 positives in any 1 negative
Contribute towards your dream (s) daily! What have you done for you lately?
Be honest about what your goals are and why you have those particular goals
Do not look at what anyone else is doing, or how - no 2 journeys are the same
Take some time (alone) to figure out what truly makes you happy and content
Monitor your efforts as well as your results and give yourself brutal feedback!!
Know, specifically, your exact aims and what steps you can / will take to achieve them

*To me success is
Waking up, having my senses in tact, paying the bills on time, doing one good deed per day, the great friendships I have, maintaining my health and fitness regime, managing my fibroid tumours, achieving the part-time job I wanted, finally having my voice heard on Westside radio! In actual fact, my list is endless. I have been and continue to be successful.

If you sometimes, or often feel that you are 'fighting' a losing battle in pursuit of your dream career / dream life, pause for as long as it takes to get some perspective. Success is personal. There is no one size, or one route for all. Some of us won't 'make it' until we reach 50, or 60. Others achieve their goals much earlier in life. Doesn't matter! What does matter is that you stay focused on how you're doing and what you are doing to get yours!! 
During my youth, just because, I wasn't necessarily shown how I could, never did I think I would achieve the following (as well as the above):
My own place
Top UK Blogger award
Paid acting / performing jobs
Directing / writing / producing for stage and screen
Be a help to others who are striving to achieve great things
Clothing brand / label in partnership with an organisation who are changing lives
Event host for: Thandie & Co, The Black Baby Show, the Business Launchpad Awards at RBS, Ambassador for 2Inspired etc.

Allocate a few hours per week to breathe (to literally have a break 'from it all'). Grab a cuppa, get comfy and simply chill, or read a book. Then give yourself / your week a review.... Make a note of how well you've done, or are doing with your goals. Write down the things that went well and anything that didn't. Then reevaluate and jot down ideas and plans that may work better for you! You've got this and you will be successful, according to your own definition of what it means to succeed.
Ps. Congratulations on successfully clicking the link which brought you to my blog site and successfully reading it through until the end ;)

To achieve is to succeed and so every time you accomplish something, irrespective of how small, you have succeeded. How you choose to think about, or see something, makes all the difference! God bless x


Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST: MEMORY LANE: NOSTALGIA




This post is in association with Typhoo tea

Sunday, 23 July 2017

MEMORY LANE: NOSTALGIA

Every so often I like to look through old pictures to remind myself of the amazing experiences I've had. A little while ago I found several gems and reminiscing was so much fun! I was firmly reminded that life isn't as bad as we sometimes feel it is when we go through difficult times. So, here's a trip down (my) memory lane to give you a happy boost. Enjoy! 


Primary School: I have such fond memories of skipping around the playground giggling, egg and spoon races on sports days, singing my heart out during the school assembly's, or on the forbidden (shh) veranda and classroom lessons where I was taught how to draw an elephant (I still remember how) by one of my favourite teachers, whose name was Mrs Newman.

Another key memory that came to mind was, when I had an accident in the playground, aged 9 and needed to be rushed to hospital; how caring the teachers were who looked after me until the ambulance arrived.

Carefree childhood: mostly outdoors, playing games and attending birthday parties which were always about the goodie bags, ha-ha!! That's all we looked for the
moment we arrived. After that, it was all about the pass the parcel game because, well, more treats and toys were to be had! I sometimes miss those days when children were just children...

The Devil in Drag: my first professional stage production in 1997, I think, as part of the Theatre Royal; Stratford East Youth Theatre. This was one of the press shots and I (honestly) had the world of anxiety being in front of a camera. Despite always wanting to take pictures of others, I felt very uncomfortable during the shoot by Johnny Munday who was super patient with me as I tried to deal with my anxiety. The production, however, was a huge success and the world of fun! How different do I look in that photo, by the way? Good grief!

To date, The Devil in Drag remains my favourite role and project that I worked on as an actress - Judge Alfonso De Tristano was a no nonsense man (yes, I played a man, a very powerful one) who took his job of upholding the law very seriously! Lol!!

I have a photo of me as the Judge wearing a court room wig, robe and snake skin beard (don't ask) but, I couldn't find it to include in this post. It's actually hilarious!

Caribbean settings: Age 16 I was told that the family will be travelling to Saint Lucia (it would be my first time going) for my auntie's wedding and we were to stay there for six weeks..... "SIX, WHO???!?". Initially I was super annoyed, but, I have such lovely and funny memories that make me smile - beach walks, Sulphur Springs, meeting family I didn't know and gaining a friend who is now like family to me and whom I speak to at least once a week. I actually think the family should all go on holiday together again... Yeah, right! 

Pictured: aunt in her wedding dress (looking so gorgeous), me (tall and broad), my sister beside me (short and cute) and our beautiful cousin Emma leads the way.

Feeling myself, differently: I am forever wanting to chop off my Afro and I did just that many moons ago (I genuinely cannot recall when) and I loved it way too much!! It felt so good to not have braids and to rock short, fairly easy to manage, hair. 

My face was slimmer back then too, and the hairstyle I had really suited my shape. Not sure I could get away with it now, but, I do intend to give it a try again. So, if I do and you catch me suddenly going IN with my instagram stories, that's why! Ha-ha...

Old School: The photo below is from the last rave I attended. It was a 90's theme birthday, in London and I had the absolute time of my life! It was the best environment, loads of fancy dress fun and I'm pretty sure I didn't leave the dance floor for longer than 5 minutes!! Everyone there was having a ball and it was great to be at a party, in a club, where the vibes were super sweet throughout the night! I no longer do raves because, there tends to be too much drama, however, if they were all like this particular celebration I'd be the first one to rock up!! It was a fab time; we were smiles all night. Oh, by the way, I went as Janet Jackson and I did look (a bit) like her before I posed for this photo all sweaty Betty. LOL!

Pictured: actors Michael Salami and Holli Dee.

Radio vibes: I, mean, once upon a time some of us had to broadcast from a garage and now we have evolved to purpose built spaces, or studios, fully kitted out with the necessary gadgets needed to produce quality content for dedicated listeners / supporters. This picture (of Déja Vu FM, 2013) means so much more to me than I know how to put into words. If I had to go back to that very spot and start all over again, I would. Brilliant memories were made and a lot of laughter was had! I'm proud of where I started and super chuffed with all I've achieved. I'm excited to present Charley Time on Westside Radio (89.6FM) Thursday 27th July 2017, 7pm (GMT)! The climb is real. Got to be fully about all of it to be in with a chance of succeeding with it, right?

On screen: I don't know which one I miss more, my weekly radio show, or creating The Real Talk TV Series UK for *YouTube

Again, I wasn't about having my face on camera, however, I absolutely loved all the laughs, meeting new people, developing the project and growing as a presenter. Valuable, hands-on experience that I massively appreciate. The show is still available to watch so, *head on over once you've read this post and leave comments with your thoughts - should I bring the show back?

Pictured: Darren Raymond, Artistic Director (Intermission Youth Theatre) and, behind the camera, Emma Obichukwu. 

Journalist? The challenge of creating regular content for Amor Magazine UK was overwhelming at times, yet it pushed me as a writer which has been reflected in my blog. I was blessed with a handful of opportunities and enjoyed all of them. Seeing my articles in print and receiving messages from readers was great! The Editor-in-Chief is known for offering aspiring writers a platform to both showcase and develop their skills!

One of the most memorable times was interviewing Shaggy at a plush hotel in West London and, not entirely for the right reasons (ahem), the dude had me in stitches!! It's an experience I'll never forget, ha-ha.

Cardiff: 3 years ago I went and stayed there for a weekend and it had me feel so relaxed; completely zen and the people were lovely. I literally felt at peace, physically, mentally and the rest. 

I'd like to visit again to see if it still has that same vibe. It truly was bliss. Although my partner at the time was there for work, I was able to enjoy the city which was such a blessing. 

There was quite a bit to see / do. A market with uniquely made products for sale, a festival, stunning buildings, seasonal afternoon tea, galleries, etc. It was definitely the type of weekend you just don't want to end. 

Gizmo: When it comes to pets, it's all about cats in my family and I am no exception! As a child, my animal obsession was kittens and rabbits. My mother sweetly bought us 2 rabbits, but, she didn't realise one was female and they had one too many babies! Some time after they all died, we found a kitten in the bonnet of mums car. Unfortunately we couldn't keep him and I'm sure I shed a tear or ten! I promised myself that, "when I'm grown up, I'll have a kitten". I wish I had known that when I grew up I'd also have a niece who would become the first person to whom I struggle to say "no". 
She met my Gizmo (this was years ago now) and the 2 instantly became chums so, (sigh) I allowed her to keep him only for him to be stolen a little while after settling into his new home. Someone nabbed him whilst he was outside. We all felt awful, seriously and to this day I miss him... He was a cute, playful, affectionate kitten. I want another one.

One of my greatest achievements is shared by 2 men with whom I now have a close friendship. In 2012 we created and produced a short film born from an initiative of mine named Change the Stereo. The cast were a joy to work with and I was surprised that a few of them were previously unknown to me! The lessons learned were incredible and I carry them with me to this day. Pass the Comb has a very special place in my heart. It was a teeny, tiny seed that blossomed onto the Community TV Channel and sparked the beautiful friendship I have with my co-producers from Zone 180 

That's it! End of memory lane. Did you have fun? I may share more pics from the batch I found on my instagram page.

Like you, I have moments when I want to be done with certain people and (the current state of) this world, however, for the most part, I am defo a much happier soul the older I get and am so much more comfortable in my skin. At some point, we all go through a type of hardship, or difficulties and such challenges often make us forget the wonderful aspects of our lives for which we should remain grateful and be uplifted by. 

No matter what you're faced with, how you choose to tackle it will always be the difference between whether the situation quickly and positively improves, or gets worse. To someone you are everything! Maybe you should take a trip down your own memory lane to remind yourself of that fact and, if nothing else, let that be your positive motivation force.

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST: How To Stay Positive

Sunday, 16 July 2017

HOW TO STAY POSITIVE

"Easier said than done" is true of near enough everything, however, it's always better, I think, to have at least tried than to not bother at all. Plus, there could be amazing benefits that will change your life (around) in the exact way you've been praying, or hoping for. Essentially, the following is all about swapping bad habits for good ones.

Here are 8 ways you can maintain an optimistic outlook!

1. If you enjoy it, stick with it. When you feel good more goodness will come your way.

2. Remember, there will always be an individual who has it much worse than you ever will. Life is not all bad... Look for the blessing in every situation and be thankful for what you have. 

3. Say kind words to yourself and those around you. You've great qualities and are uniquely beautiful, which (I imagine) you sometimes overlook, or take for granted.

4. Be encouraged by your desire to achieve certain things. How else will you get them?

5. Have a laugh with your friends every time you're together. Limit the deep conversations!
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6. Look for ways to make things fun!! Sing at work, dance around your home, skip along the street, etc. Whilst you're at it, think about how you can give back. This doesn't need to involve spending money. Most people just want to know that they are worth your time, effort and being in your company.

6b. In fact, go out of your way to make someone else feel great about themselves. Pay them a (genuine) compliment, take an interest in how they are, what they're passionate about, or simply strike up a conversation based on a topic you know they can relate to in a positive way and will also make them laugh. Not only will you have them feeling fab, you will too. It's so rewarding doing for others (within reason).
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7. Push yourself to try something that is completely out of your comfort zone that you can learn from, develop skills and use to take yourself further forward (be that professionally, or personally).

8. At the end of each day, think about all you did, how and the results. What did you accomplish, or overcome? Were you thoughtful, helpful and generous? Did you maintain optimism and a happy disposition throughout the day? How and with whom did you spend the day? Was it worth it? It's good to reflect to see clearly any room for change, or improvements.

8b. Be honest because, that's the only way you can begin to work towards becoming a better you. Regardless, show yourself some love. We're all worthy of love!

TIP: One of the best pick-me-up's (I believe) is to go somewhere unfamiliar, or fairly new, without any concrete plans and an open mind with no particular aim. More often than not, giving yourself a break from your surroundings, routines, same old faces and the daily grind can be just the positive boost you need. Don't wait for a friend, partner, family, or colleages to 'have the time' to go with you. Responsibility of your happiness is with you.
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In the words of Trent Shelton, "it all starts with you". 
To walk positively is a choice that will always be yours.

Photographs 1 and 2: Rebecca Judd
Photograph 3: Caroline Odogwu
Woman with me in photo's 1 and 2: Charline

Thanks for reading.
PREVIOUS POST: A Date With An Artist