Sunday, 28 May 2017

GET READY FOR SUMMER!

Now, hold tight, it's all good.... I'm not going to tell you how to get in shape, oh no! This post is all about having as much fun as you can during the best time of the year without going broke!! 

TREATS - even if you have mounting bills and credit cards to pay off, you can reserve a little at the end of each month for a tiny indulgence, or a treat for yourself. From a full body deep tissue massage, to a day trip perhaps, or maybe just a chilled afternoon at your favourite park, you deserve something nice each month 😉
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BEYOND YOUR CITY / STATE - travel somewhere you've never been. It doesn't need to be abroad, or somewhere far. Just a place you have yet to visit, or haven't visited in a long time. In the UK, we have small (very affordable) beaches, seasides and towns that so many of us haven't even heard of let alone explored! 
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GET BONDING - do something special and memorable with a friend / loved one. An impromptu photo shoot, for example (your mobile phone camera will suffice), or go on a tour of your hometown together (typically speaking, this will cost a day travel card, or a one day bus pass). I, mean, how much of it have you actually seen and what do you know about its history? 
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In a relationship? Why not create a memory unique to the 2 of you by doing a fun, creative, outdoor activity (risk free, ahem) such as playing a sport, drawing each other (you don't need to be good at it, it's all for fun), make / build something together (those Craft Design Technology lessons might just come in handy, lol), or simply enjoy some time playing quirky card and board games?
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START NOW - everything and everywhere looks so much better underneath the summer sunshine which tends to have people feel all the more motivated. So, whether you want to launch a YouTube channel, spruce up the garden, take a long distance bike ride, start painting (you might find basic starter kits in discount stores), or take a course in photography (there are free online classes), now is a brilliant time to stop thinking about it and to make it happen!
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Thank you for reading. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

KEEP THE JOB, GET THE CAREER!

It can be quite difficult to pursue your purpose; the career you want so badly, whilst having to ensure you secure a regular job to keep your head above water. There can be the world of stumbling blocks in the shape of drama with so-called friends, the breakdown of personal relationships, or conflict with colleagues that leads to you being unemployed. Again! All of these things can bring you down. However, I wholeheartedly believe that (near enough) everything comes down to how you choose to see it and not necessarily what it 'appears' to be. If you're someone for whom the struggle is currently way too real, I hope you find these tips encouraging...

Understand who you are and why
What / who excites you, inspires and motivates you? Why those things, or person / people specifically? 

What are you most passionate about? 
This is likely to be connected to your purpose, or it is your purpose and you've yet to realise.

Get to know the way your mind works and how it responds to your heart
If you're easily distracted, or made to feel upset and are forever torn between your thoughts and feelings, thus preventing you from living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, it might be a good idea to see your GP (real talk) to discuss why and how you can prevent that from happening. You need your mind to be clear, able to think logically / rationally and you also need to be able to control your feelings. I know, easier said.... Definitely possible though.

Know where you stand with yourself
Being comfortable in your skin is key, literally. If you care what others think you need to know why and you then need to work on getting rid of those 'reasons'! You need to have a word with yourself and get it together!!
Look in the mirror and have a word with yourself!
See yourself as someone worthy of respect and one who is valuable
Intuitive and instinctive people will pick up on a lack of self appreciation fast and, while perhaps not deliberately, those who can see that you do not like / love yourself, are likely to treat you that way.

Have a plan and marry them to your goals
If in 6 months time you want to have cleared a debt, so you can then begin putting money towards your dream, yet you've taken no time to formulate a plan of action you'll remain exactly where you are!

Create as many CV's as are applicable to your different skill sets and career goals
It's great if you've worked as a Secretary, Builder, Fitness Instructor and have also volunteered as a production assistant because, you aspire to be a Production Manager. However, if applying for an administrative role, your CV should only include your admin work history and the relevant / supporting skills and achievements. It's the same for your personal statement!

Apply for (temporary / short term) jobs you have some sort of interest in 
It will be incredibly unfair to the prospective employers and also a great disservice to yourself if you send applications for everything you know you're capable of doing, while knowing that you've no real interest in over half of them. Have a strategy (and don't be put off if you have low funds. Some resources are free), be realistic, keep your real career aim at the front of your mind and remain honest with yourself about what you want from the temporary job (s) and why. 
FREE Metro newspaper - not the best but, you do occassionally find some gems!
Always be prepared!
Thorough preparation for an interview is a must. You need to work - lengthy gaps on your CV doesn't look good, you've bills to pay, maybe debts to clear and, most importantly, you're in pursuit of a career that requires you to be in a good place financially before you can even begin to get started with the official chase. However, you must also be prepared for any sudden career related opportunities that pop up - you don't want to miss them but, you want to also keep your paid job. What will you do if the most amazing career related opportunity crops up and clashes with a day you're at work? You've got to know what you'd do in this situation well in advance.

Keep it real
Let the prospective employers know (at the interview stage) that, whilst you're passionate about the role you're being interviewed for, long term, you see yourself with a career in your chosen field and intend to pursue non conflicting opportunities outside of the job. This will be fair and better for you in the long run rather than pretending you have no other interests, goals or passions.

Balance is essential
Establish a routine for yourself so that you can fit everything in giving priority to that which is a necessity. You will need to make a realistic and achievable list, perhaps change the time you wake up each morning and rearrange other commitments.

Trust those who stick by you
Self belief is crucial if you're going to stand any chance of being able to successfully hold down a job while also chasing your dreams, but, you've got to have a huge amount of belief (and trust) in your nearest and dearest, that they will support you any way they can. If you don't have anyone (which I hope is not the case), pray. If you don't believe in God, step out of your comfort zone at least once a week to go and meet new people at events, or places relating to your career goal, with whom you can (potentially) create trustworthy friendships.
Abi Lawal, Duval Akonor, Caroline Odogwu
No shortcuts
Do things properly, always. Cutting corners may get you to your destination sooner, however, amongst many other things, you might find yourself without the knowledge, education and capabilities needed to sustain your achievement (s) long term. Be patient. Where you want to be begins with knowing where you ought to be right now! Check-in with your instincts...

Yes, it's a lot and can be stressful at times, but, I think it's better to walk down the road filled with challenges and major learning curves than to walk down easy street. Stick with the challenges because, once over the hurdles, the rewards are likely to be long lasting. YOU GOT THIS! Stay focused and don't watch the moves that anyone else is making! God bless x

Thank you for reading. 
PREVIOUS POST: Black Women's Hair 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

BLACK WOMEN'S HAIR

Let me start by reminding you that I write from personal experience so, please make sure you take that with you before you take anything else.

You're either here because you're in need of inspiration and ideas, or you just want to know what others are doing with theirs and how, or you are not a black woman but, you're curious about our hair, the various types and why we're so anti having our hair touched by random hands!!

I talked about my teen hair journey (sort of) in a previous post here but, with some encouragement from @remifications, in this entry I'll share with you the products and methods I use to look after my hair in its current form and I'll also speak on the reality of managing (my) 'black' hair. 

In my mid twenties, I decided to stop trying every recommended product and the many suggested ways to 'look after' my hair. I tested (on strands at the back of my head) a few researched products (ingredients, compatibility, benefits) and stuck with whatever had me see positive results. Since then the relationship between the fro and I is good and *that's the real 'secret' to having a nice head of hair that is of decent quality. We still have a way to go, but, as of 2015, we're on the right path and I'm seeing results (albeit super slow). I went from having a pixie cut (due to how damaged my hair was) to a mini Sideshow Bob afro!
Sideshow Charley at home
I prefer wearing braids though! Simply for the fact that they're a lot easier to look after and I can just get up and go. We each treat our braids differently (hair extensions plaited into our natural hair). For me, it works to apply a teeny bit of pure coconut oil to my roots as and when I feel my head is dry, to massage olive oil into my scalp, then have a steam (weekly) and to spray the hair every other day. I use both of the oils to treat my natural hair too. I usually keep my braids in for about 3 - 4 months and am likely to have washed it (with Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula conditioning shampoo) no more than 4 times during this period. I also allow my natural hair to breathe for up to 2 weeks (as well as moisturising my hair, I will also plait and wrap my hair when out and about) before I braid again.

NB: My natural hair is super fine (hence minimal product use and kids range) and so, to wash it daily, or weekly and to add heavy creams and the alike regularly would drown my head piece causing the hair to break (which I've had enough of over the years). For me, health is the focus not the length. 
My actual hair products
In my younger years and throughout my twenties, I realised that I was spending a lot more time and money on my hair than my non black (female) friends and all of the experimenting, treatments, magazines and hair shows attended saw me damage my (natural) hair quite badly which is why I had to cut it (not trim, CUT) really short more than once! However, that struggle was nothing in comparison to having my (black) hair be misunderstood by those outside of my race and also ill judged (back when I cared what others thought of my hair) by my fellow black women and black men! 
Pixie Charley
The desire to touch my hair, be that in its natural form, or braids, I find weird and to reach out and do so without my permission is RUDE!! Black women's hair can be very sensitive, like a person's skin can be. The wrong hand might cause increased dryness, lead to breakage, or weakness. NO JOKE!!!! Even if that were not the case, we're all well within our rights to not allow some random individual (other women, mostly) to touch our hair 'out of curiosity'. Nobody has ever seen me try to touch a woman's overly made up face just to see if my finger will sink into her cheek past the layers of slap she's wearing! Choopse!

A black woman's hair is her identity not a statement, or a flag to be flown for all other black women, nor is it to be worn, or styled the way any other individual, regardless of their race, believes it should be so as to have the black woman 'fit into' someones ideal. Once upon a time, black women were encouraged to adopt a more european look, hence the use of relaxers (chemicals used to straighten a black woman's natural hair) and now there's a not so subtle pressure for us to 'return to our roots' from all types of people, for whatever reasons...
The length I wore my braids 2014 - 2015
The choices you make about your hair, my fellow black women, is entirely yours to make and (to a degree) depends on your lifestyle because, the management of our hair, as you know, is no quick step!! It's time consuming, takes a lot of planning, prep, strict routines (to see real benefits), money and the world of patience (especially if you wear your hair in its natural form). So, while all of the related / relevant YouTube videos, Instagram pages, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts are 'showing' you 'How To Do This', when, why and telling you what the so-called results would be, know that your goal must be realistic, affordable and the success you'll see (if any) will be a reflection of your lifestyle not just (if at all) the tutorials you follow. No 2 heads of hair are the same, there is no one size fits all.
2017
2017
*I believe less is more and if you commit to a routine, that will be super effective.


What has been /is your experience with your own hair?

Thank you for reading
PREVIOUS POST: The Social Media Diet

Sunday, 7 May 2017

THE SOCIAL MEDIA DIET

Do you remember the first online profile you created on a 'social networking' site? Had you done any research prior to signing up? Probably not, there wasn't really a need back in the day. For me it was Hi-5 (remember that platform?) and all I knew was that it was the 'place' to be and (at the time) it was a lot of fun! It was an occasional online jolly that always remained exciting because, there were no mobile phone apps which gave you quick access 24/7 so, you had to wait until you got home, or could visit the local library to check what was new!

Today, 'social' media platforms are more 'business' than it is anything else. A constant stream of marketing, promotions, ad's, sponsored posts, selling, campaigning, strategic political 'mentions', bandwagon noise and competition. It's all a bit #awkward nowadays...
My Twitter time line
Social media is all about micro 'influencers' versus macro 'influencers', literally! You cannot escape it and would be immediately forgiven (by me anyway) for jumping on the conveyor belt yourself. 

Facebook is full of commercial pop up's, Twitter is a promotional waterfall against the backdrop of the odd 'hype', or angst, Instagram is all #ad, or 'come to this', 'buy this', 'join this', or 'watch me do this' and the rest I won't even bother to comment on because, they're pretty much the same. When did this happen and why? 
My Facebook time line
I miss the days when everything had its own, unique spot - adverts were on the television and in publications, or on billboards and the alike, private conversations happened over the phone and in person, events were about entertainment, social media was a place to 'meet' and 'connect' with the type of individuals whom you'd not likely cross paths with in real life.

It's difficult living in this day and age, it really is. I struggle with it sometimes. I cannot get my head around the way everything has evolved and the direction it all seems to be going. We've become so dependent upon online 'engagement' and information, even though we know a lot of what is being shared is untrue, which can have such a devastating impact on our relationships. Stress (for some) is missing the latest trending on Twitter, not being one of the first to check yet another ('new' make-up) tutorial on YouTube, losing 'friends' on Facebook, deciding what pictures to take for Instagram and when to upload them... Is this life now? What on earth is going on? Seriously?
It's so extreme that, sometimes, when we do interact off line, most people are so caught up with their electronic devices, or with trying to 'capture the moments' to later share online, that our social interactions can actually suffer. I can't deal and I feel no way to share that with you. I think the development of technology is fab and I really like what it has enabled us to do especially the positive educational and business opportunities. I'm just not about the negative aspects of it which you probably agree with. I think we're far too addicted to 'cyber lives' and the virtual world. It isn't healthy!

When was the last time you went old school and left your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, iPad and the rest, at home for the day? Could you even do that without being forced to? Or, how about making sure you silence your phone and leave it in your bag, or pocket whenever you socialise? Do you ever go on a tech detox?

#BringBacktheOldSchool

Thank you for reading. 
PREVIOUS POST: DEAR FIRST TIME BLOGGER