Keeping Secrets

I’m always reflecting; be that on world events, personal circumstances or our general existence my mind is always a whirl with thoughts. This week I came across a picture on social media that made me think about how some of us are so compelled to share absolutely everything, the good, the bad and the devastatingly awful.

When Crissy Teigen chose to share the pain filled photo of her grief so many questions ran through my mind. I’ve been in a similar position to Crissy before, I understand that in sharing we can find the strength to move forward, to cope, to heal but at the same time we are putting ourselves in such a place of vulnerability in a world that can be a cruel place. However, in saying that, sharing every minute detail of our lives has become the norm. It’s as though the social media powers have brainwashed us into thinking that it is perfectly normal to announce that you had toast and a coffee for breakfast with a side serving of chemo pills. We consume other people’s lives day in day out to the point we don’t even know what is real anymore.

We question our choices; we can’t wear an outfit unless it’s been on Debbie Le, can’t make a financial decision without consulting The Break but at the same time want to live it up like we’re on Beyonc√©’s budget. Our houses aren’t clean unless we’ve used Mrs Hinch’s methods and clothes can’t be put in a bag without thanking them for their service. We are plagued by the losses of our favourite celebs and humoured by the misfortunes of others. We rally around making sure that our favourite Instagram couple are still on track but our best friend’s relationship could be in tatters and we only bother to check in if her WhatsApp status is concerning. We spend so much time smiling down at our phones that we pay little attention to what is going on around us and we forget special occasions unless Facebook sends us a reminder.

Of course we aren’t all living in a social media bubble some of us are pretty good at switching off and paying attention to what is going on in front of us but I have personally lost count of the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me to repeat something because they were too busy watching the latest TikTok dance to hear what I’d said.

It might be an age thing, I turn 40 in a couple of days, but I’ve become really conscious of not wanting to be so engaged with phones and consoles that I miss life. I’ve also come to the realisation that some things just need to be kept to myself. Sometimes you offer up too much of yourself and then everyone thinks they have a right to an opinion. I’m tired of hearing unsolicited opinions, they have a tendency to make me question my own mind and in all honesty, I question it enough as it is! That’s not to say I’ve magically turned into a “private person”, I write a blog for goodness sake! I am however a grumpy middle aged woman who doesn’t want to share my relationship status nor my lack of bedroom activity with anyone that isn’t on my phone’s favourites list!

Is it ok to be Vulnerable?

It’s been a while, I’ve been busy making work and life balance exactly how I want it too and so far there is some success.  I’m enjoying my role in school (I’m currently leading writing and have been given the additional responsibility of Keystage lead starting in September), I’m spending time with my family and friends and I’ve even done a cheeky bit of shopping.  The only thing not currently happening for me is travel; I’m itching to jump on a plane again.

I’ve tried to write a couple of times but each time what I want to say either doesn’t quite come out or has made me feel overly exposed.  Funny that, I write this blog with the aim of being 100% authentically me but when things get too personal I pull back and give 0%.  If I was like that in my every day life I’d never get anywhere.  So this post is just a catch up to say hello and perhaps make myself a little vulnerable in the process.

During the height of the pandemic, when gatherings were locked down, restaurants weren’t available and church was an online only event, I spent a lot of time doing not much at all except work, in some ways this was a good thing, it gave me time to do things around the house and make some financial investments however it also left me secluded, I forgot how much fun it was to go out with friends and family and instead got very comfortable with being in my home.  As things have gradually started to normalise my feelings about getting out and about haven’t.  I’ve converted to forcing myself to attend social events because I know once I’m there I’ll have an amazing time.  I’ve even told my friends and family that with my 40th birthday coming up, barring catching a flight, there is nothing I would rather do than stay at home and cuddle up with a hot drink and a book.  This of course has been met with hard resistance and family telling me I have no choice but to celebrate with them.  In my heart of hearts I know I’d probably regret it if I didn’t celebrate but currently my mind is screaming a big fat NO.

I’ve joked at the presence of a mid life crisis but in reality I’m probably just about to step into the best days of my life. Yes, I’m still single and longing for my Boaz to take me out of the barley fields but I’m also glad I didn’t choose to settle out of desperation. It’s easy to look back and think perhaps I missed out on the person that was for me because I wanted the complete package, even though I wasn’t the complete package but in reality they were never for me because I wasn’t ready.

Now I’m ready.

I have an adult daughter and a son who is in his last year of primary school. I have a good job and a decent side hustle. I have investments and savings for the first time in my life and a handful of solid friends who I wouldn’t change for the world. That’s not to say I don’t miss some of the friends that drifted. I’m a very sentimental person and there are people who for whatever reason left my life that I am not afraid to admit I miss. I’ve always said that love is something you can’t just erase, once someone had my love, they will always have it, perhaps not in the same way but love doesn’t just vanish.

So what’s next? God knows. I have plans and dreams to accomplish so I’m going to stay focused and continue to work towards the life I desire.

Is it ok to be vulnerable? Yes!! We have all been there and in those moments you have the opportunity to grow the most.

What’s next for you?

Use my referral link https://crypto.com/app/ztcbz9c3dm to sign up for Crypto.com and we both get $25 USD ūüôā

Can we Survive the IG generation?

I often take a little time out from blogging and social media to have some element of rest. As much as I love writing I find that sometimes sharing my thoughts can be a bit too much, especially when there are things in my life that I’m struggling to deal with.

Recently, it’s been tough, I’ve had appointment after appointment to try and get through a health issue that we just can’t seem to put a finger on and I’ve been avoiding Instagram because it’s full of pictures that show people living the dream and at present I’m scraping at dream life from a distance with a dinner fork when really what I need is a flight and a forklift. You know that feeling when you’re so close you can smell it but far enough away that your fingertips just about scrape the surface? It’s that. But the kind of person I am means that I’ll just shuffle the deck and hand out the cards again until I’m winning.

I know that people mainly use social media to show their highlight reels and I’ve heard a million times that we shouldn’t compare our everyday to someone’s highlight reel but when it’s in your face constantly even the strongest of people can’t help but make comparisons. I know of one girl who chose her car because a girl who she thought was after her man had an older version of the same one, it’s sad really but its is what has become the norm for so many.

This is why I’m trying to be different. Yes I will probably still post my highlights, I mean who really wants to post pictures of them at their unhappiest? What I will do though is avoid digesting anything that makes me feel like giving up and I’ll avoid posting things that make it seem like I have it more together than I really do.

I’m human like the rest of you, I cry tears, I worry about finances and health and I battle with my emotions. I also have 2 amazing children that keep me going, a job that I enjoy and a handful of people who make my heart smile. There are twists and turns on our journey and in reality we are all heading in the same direction so each and every one of us should enjoy to the fullest and let our worries worry about themselves.

Let’s save the planet

After a very serious topic last week I thought today I’d go for something a bit more light-hearted.¬† The simple topic of saving our planet sprang to mind.¬† We are absolutely terrible at protecting our worlds resources.¬† We chop down the trees, pollute the oceans and send toxic fumes into the atmosphere on a daily basis yet we sit in our coffee shops with a latte and some avocado on toast claiming that we’re interested in building futures for our children.

I got a major case of the guilts this week when I read that it takes 10,000 litres of water to grow the cotton needed for my favourite pair of jeans, yet there are still hundreds of millions of people who don’t have access to clean drinking water.¬† My little monthly donation to Water Aid is like putting a pacifier in front of a 3 week only baby and expecting them to get it themselves.¬† I’m not saying don’t donate of course, the more of us that do that, the better but perhaps what I am saying is, maybe don’t buy that 6th pair of jeans that look like the other 5 in your closet, except for the ribbed detailing over the left pocket.¬† There is nothing wrong with re-purposing an old pair or going to vintage or charity shops for a second hand bargain.

Jeans all have holes in them nowadays anyway

Water is just one thing, the amount of plastic waste we produce is beyond ridiculous and where is it all going?¬† The answer may seem simple, it’s goes to landfil, our oceans, our parks all over our environment.¬† It’s so widely spread it’s even in our food and our excrement.¬† It’s definitely a worrying trend and not something that we can just wait for the plastic industry to respond to.¬† Yes they do react when there is government direction to do so but we all know that when consumers speak with their money, companies listen.

I was lucky enough to receive a gift from one such company who wants to ensure our children are not met with toxic play toys. For me that’s definitely one way to make a change.

This gorgeous set is made from bio plastic, is toxin free and as environmentally friendly as a new toy can get.

I haven’t got babies anymore, what else can we do? This is a good question and one that I’m still trying to answer. So perhaps whilst we’re still looking for solutions, let’s start by walking more, jumping on our bikes or, in my case, our roller skates and taking on some of this traffic pollution. I have to admit that I’m rubbish at swapping my car for my legs because I hate the cold but we are still a little way off affordable electric vehicles so I will have to make more of an effort and get peddling.

Another thing I really want to do is pick up some of the trash in my local park. I literally saw a bird trying to eat the ring from a plastic bottle that had been chucked in the bushes. F.Y.I litter bugs, parks have bins and if you can’t seem to find one there’s nothing wrong with shoving it in your pocket until you get home. If anyone fancies a day out litter picking with me please let me know and we’ll make an event of it, if we don’t start trying to save our plant, who else will?

We’re not racist!

The outraged voices of white Britain have spoken.¬† Even the hint of such an outdated critique on the morals of our¬† Great British soul has us hiring the other, to write reports that defend our covertly racist systems.¬† Though The Comission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report, admitted to “some evidence of bias.” It placed the onus on black and ethnic minority stumbling blocks, squarely at the feet of the individual.

Now, this blog post is as diverse as the leaders in the education system or the board of directors in a finance company.¬† It’s diverse in reverse.¬† The people I spoke to are a group of 30+ year old professional women 4 black, 1 Asian and a white woman thrown in for good measure.¬† If you dig deep enough, you might even hear the echoes of a man I spoke to in passing. He’s not quite made it to leadership in my established friendship group, so his voice doesn’t really matter.

This may sound crazy to you, but this is our lived experience.¬† We are used to being the only ‘ethnic minority’ in the room, or for some, the only woman¬† at the table.¬† When the colour of your skin grants you privilege, you tend to forget that not everyone has access to life in the same way you do.

The report suggested that, “we have a reluctance to acknowledge the UK had become open and fairer.” This leads me to wonder who did they actually speak to?¬† Every one of the women I interviewed led with the fact they acknowledged things had become better from when they were younger, they were no longer subject to having abusive language freely thrown at them as in their 1980s and 90s childhoods, yet being told, “I hope you catch Sickle Cell or Thalassemia.”¬† Was a reality for one of them.¬† Sophisticated use of language that might be missed by the more liberal of society, has become the new way.

Us women are the first to admit that the breakdown in families plays a part. It seems stupid to ignore the fact that slavery ripped our men from the family home and created a damaging mindset for both men and women.¬† Our women are used to being ‘Strong, independent,’ doing things for ourselves.¬† We don’t need men.¬† But of course this is not true, we know that the more successful of our children are those that grow up in well rounded households, something that the report agrees.

A couple of the women I spoke to questioned the use of stop and search and suggested that it was more used to assert dominance than to actually impact on knife crime.¬† Why if police are stopping and searching more, are our young men still being killed 24 times more than their white counterparts?¬† It’s not that they are apposed to stop and search, they just want to see a correlation in the number of searches and a downward trend in knife crime.¬† The report recommends a ‘reconceptualised idea of stop and search.’ Of course we will have to wait and see what that actually entails when¬† the time comes.¬†¬† What we want are to know our children will be safe walking the streets.

We agreed that access was a key stumbling block and although the report states that there is no evidence of systemic or institutional racism, it does highlight that the doors to opportunity, although open, are still only half open to some and the “snowy white peaks at the top of private and public sectors” don’t do much to indicate lasting change.

The most Impactful thing I did get from my friendship group is that all of us wanted to see change, all of us want to be a part of that change and all of us recognise that the change must come not just from the way systems operate but also from an individual level.  What are we doing to grow our communities and push through the media blackout when it comes to our successes?  What are we able to do to ensure our youth are not wrongly prejudged before even lifting a hand to knock the door? 

We call “bullshit” on the idea that systemic and institutional racism doesn’t exist in Britain and yes it does exist alongside geographical, family, socio-economic, cultural and religious issues but our experiences are not to be swept under the rug because they are not understood.¬†

What we need is meaningful discourse that doesn’t wipe out our truth like the history books entwined in our outdated education system. We need leaders that aren’t afraid to push for the black man or woman because they’ve worked to hard to get in position.¬† We need representation that lets everyone know that we are an integral part of this country’s success.¬† We need people to stop gaslighting us as though we don’t know what racism is and we need to “self govern, protect, teach and nurture,” in order to become the community we desire to be.

Our rebellion does not have to be armed with weapons meant to kill or harm, our rebellion will be one armed with knowledge and wealth to promote change.

Single and Sharing

This could simply be a me thing but I find when I’m single and by single I mean not claiming anyone as my man, the left side of my bed tends to be occupied by books, devices, confectionery, anything other than a man. I read somewhere once, that you should prepare for what you want; set an extra plate at the table; leave a space in the closet etc and for a little while I actually did this madness. It’s no wonder my favourite ex used to tell me I was book smart but not street smart. In fact he would go as far as to say, “You have no sense of the common kind.” God rest his soul.

There is always so much pressure on a woman to fill that side of her bed. Either to have children, help raise existing children or generally just have a help mate. I get it, all of those things are important, if, you want them. What they do though, is impose a false narrative that without them you can’t be fulfilled. They make men feel empowered because they are needed, yet make some women feel a sense of desperation causing them to settle for way less than they deserve.

In 2019, I was in a long distance relationship with a guy I had met on holiday. I had insisted on the no sex before marriage rule so he was putting on the pressure to come and stay with me in the UK. When I told him he’d have to get a hotel or stay with friends he got very upset.

The offers of marriage had been flooding in from him and had I been back in my 20s, I probably would have agreed. He started getting possessive and wanting to know where I was and who I was with every minute of the day. I get that long distance it can be difficult but I didn’t share the desire to know his every move and at this point, I decided to call it off. His response, “You’re never going to find anyone like me who’s willing to marry you.” Strong words, which after hearing my response he soon retracted, but the fact he had the nerve to even think it, was everything that is wrong with the way society empowers men to think they are better than women.

Beyonc√© put it best when she said, “I can have another you in a minute…”

What men fail to understand is that we don’t have difficulty getting a man, men are always ‘available’. Most of us could have been married 3 times over if we chose to settle. What we do have trouble with is finding a man who is committed and doesn’t view monogamy as a straight jacket made to stop them ‘living their best life.’

I refuse to idolise anyone’s relationships because we all know that behind closed doors anything could happen but I do love some of the wisdom that comes from the mouths of men like Steve Harvey, he recognised his woman as an asset, his best one. He teaches woman that as misogynistic as it may seem, a man should profess you are his, provide for you and protect you. There is a lot to be said for this.

So whilst my bed might be taken up by chocolate wrappers and the latest self help guide to a better life, I’m going to enjoy my freedom and fill my time with friendship and laughter and maybe the next guy that comes along will be at a stage where their community cat days are over and they recognise the value that a good woman has to bring, perhaps they’ll even buy me another bedside table for the left hand side of my bed.

There are no how to guides to parenting.

Top: Urban Outfitters, Jeans: Boohoo, leather shirt: Bershka

21.  I can just about believe it myself.  The little princess who used to hang on my every word and cry at the mere thought of leaving me, is now officially an adult by the world’s standards.  How on Earth will I console myself?

Her lockdown birthday celebration on Monday was absolutely lovely, being the daughter that she is, I had no doubts that whatever I did for her she would accept with love and gratitude and in all likehood an anxious smile.  I was right.  All except for the anxious smile. 

My baby girl, in true Tianna fashion, showed up as the authentic beautiful soul I know her to be, she laughed, joked and didn’t let a single thing bother her, at least thats what she showed on the outside.

For all I know, that beautiful smile could have been masking a multitude of emotions.  In that respect, she really is the child of her parents.  In many ways we raised her right; taught her to be conscientious and caring; to respect other’s rights to their own opinions and make choices that created beauty in this world for herself and others.  However, in other respects we taught her how to mask pain and push through every situation.  Despite it being ok to cry, it was not ok to stay in a state of unhappiness and allow others to see it.  We put on a brave face and shone, no matter what.

There are no perfect parents but part of being a good parent is learning from your mistakes and making adjustments to make sure your children have the best possible life chances.  These realisation don’t always come immediately, infact they hardly ever do but when they do, that’s the check in point.  Check in with experts, check in with other parents, check in with your children.  All of these people have an insight into how you can do better and be better.

I suppose the case of Aisha Kudi had me reflecting on how we parent and how we can put ourselves in a position to assist others to do so. Is it possible to avoid these tragedies by being a community accountable for our young people? I won’t delve too much into that story as I’m sure there is much yet to be revealed but what I will say is we as a society need to be better at looking out for vulnerable people, be that the parent, or the child.

I just pray that changes will be made at a systemic level to avoid something like this occurring again. After Victoria Climbie, we would have hoped never again to see cases like this. Unfortunately, here we are.

How well do you know your vagina?

If the word vagina gives you shivers down your spine, talk of a cervix has you sweating and the mere mention of discharge has you running to grab a sick bucket, this is just the post for you.

This week I will be talking all things fannies and pleading with men and women to normalise talking about changes in your intimate areas. 

Once you’ve had a team of doctors staring up your canal to check if you’ve stretched enough to push an entire human out of you, all sentiments of dignity go out the window.¬† From that moment forward you know doctors have seen it all.¬† That being said when I made a call to my surgery this week to discuss intimate matters, they did ask if I was ok speaking to a man about it, very considerate, though at this stage of my life the sex of my doctor is irrelevant.

I’ve always been very aware of what my vagina looks like, I was never afraid to sit in front of a mirror legs akimbo and check what I was working with.¬† To some extent the “pretty” vaginas in porno and songs that talk of “designa vagina” had a lot to do with that but I also wanted to know me so I could spot any changes.

Having been obsessed with human mortality since the age of about 5 I’ve always needed to know what my normal was so I could keep it that way.¬†

This goes for your discharge too.¬† Throughout a woman’s cycle our discharge changes slightly in texture and colour but at no point should you have green or smelly discharge and think things are still “A ok” down there.¬† Don’t get me wrong, it could just be a mild infection that triggers drastic change but any change is definitely worth getting checked.

The same goes for you fella’s too, grab your balls cop a feel and know what your normal is or better still let your significant other have a feel for you!

This Monday marks the 12th Anniversary of Jade Goody’s passing and that in itself is a reminder to get yourself checked out and don’t miss a single smear test.¬† My recent smear came back all clear but the nurse did notice a cervical entropic, which explained a number of issues I had been experiencing.¬† Thankfully it’s nothing serious and I’ll live, I may even be lucky enough that the issue fixes itself but once again it is a reminder to keep checking, know your body and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Now on another note, the first (living) human to exit my vagina turns 21 tomorrow!¬† Yes, that means I’m no longer a spring chicken and will have to stop insisting that I’m still 21 myself so happy 25th birthday to me!

Mother’s Day 2021

Mothering Sunday has arrived.

There is always so much to be thankful for when it comes to mother’s, whatever your story, there is at least a little gratitude for the woman who brought you into this world. Today, and every day, my cup overflows with it.

Although Barbados has a different Mother’s Day to the UK, I still take this day to salute the matriarchal figures of my family. I am blessed to still have my grandmother and mother available for chats and laughter at the end of a phone line, when many of my friends have lost theirs. The wealth of advice they have to offer, wanted or not, is something that I will always cherish.

I’m also very blessed to have my daughter’s other Grandma, who blesses me with hugs, laughter and prayer in the absence of my mum. When you lose your only child, as she has, mother’s day can be heart wrenching. We are so grateful to be able to love on her like she loves on us.

My own journey into motherhood was not an easy one so I don’t take for granted what a blessing it is to have someone call you mum and despite this being “my day”, I am so thankful that I have my babies to love on.

So I end this post by saying to all the mothers out there, enjoy your day. Find gratitude for your blessings and hug a mother tightly, be that your own mother or someone else’s, acknowledge that most of us are out here trying to be the best we can. Have a blessed day.

What is a family?

Strange title today I know, surely everyone knows the answer to that one, or do they? I literally had to wonder if I was missing something when a friend of mine told me she had lost out on a property because they had given it to a “family”.

It angers me that on a clubhouse stage another friend of mine was told that she shouldn’t talk about mental health from the perspective of race, and it certainly angers me that despite living in a so called libral society free from the bonds of slavery my people are still shackled.

I can only speak as a single mother, because I am a single mother. I can only speak as a woman because I am a woman and I can only speak as a black person because I am black. When you ask me to offer my opinion on something I offer it as a black woman who also happens to be raising her children alone and the thought that in the eyes of someone else that means my children and I are not a “family” makes me angry beyond words.

I am unapologetically black and nobody has the right to tell me I shouldn’t talk about my trauma from my perspective as a black woman. Like it or not, we face the system differently to others. I remember the pain I was suffering on the labour ward with my son and being told I was exaggerating and just needed to use the gas and air and I’d be fine, before having to be rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section because apparently my word as a black woman means nothing. Before you tell me that this happens to other women too, black women are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a white woman and it’s no coincidence that black people are more likely to die of covid either. Why do you think the results of those investigations are still hushed? The only reason for it is the disparity of care they receive due to their perceived “strength” After all isn’t that the reason we were brought and sold in the first place?

I remember as a teen, being told that perhaps I should be a nursery nurse instead of my ambition to be a lawyer or social worker, despite having better grades than many and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a nursery nurse, I did go on to do the job and love it but why couldn’t I get a job that required a degree? What was it that the career advisor saw in me that told her it was unachievable for someone like me? Nothing but the colour of my skin. P.S madam career advisor, I now hold 3 degrees.

I also remember sitting in the staff room of one of my previous work places and listening to the other teachers rant about particular children and how, “It’s the single mums that are the problem.” I kindly had to remind them that this single mother sat right next to them as a peer, not only works her ass of to provide for her children but has worked since the age of 15 and is raising children to be non-judgmental human beings. This is one of the reasons I got into teaching, I didn’t want children, especially black children, to continue to be told they could not achieve all that they wanted to in life.

So back to my initial question; what is a family? A family is, in my humble opinion and closely agreed with by Google, a group of people who love each other where there is at least one adult that has people that depend on them. When you start saying that single parents living with their children are not a family, you shackle them, you tell them that in your eyes they are not whole. You tell them that despite how they got to that position, they are not worthy of the same life chances as everyone else and you feed into their already fragile self confidence.

Something has got to change and I will be one of the change makers.