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.

5 books to read your children on World Book Day

It’s world book day this Thursday, in light if that, I’ve adapted my post this week to talk more about reading and less about me. Here are my 5 recommendations for awesome books to read to your children.

1. The Lion Inside

An inspirational story that shows we all have a lion inside of us.

2. Look Up

A story that teaches us the importance of paying attention and sometimes all we need to do to experience something wonderful is ‘Look Up’.

3. The Lost Happy Endings

Beautiful poetic imagery in this book in which our happy endings are rescued.

4. The Spiderwick Chronicles

A series of books filled with magic and mischief.

5. Noughts & Crosses

A teen read that explores slavery, racism and love in dangerous times.

I have read all of the above books and there are so many more I could list but these are a great place to start.

You can also go to this page to download a digital library. Check it out!

How To Show Up For New York Fashion Week

Fashion season is about to be lit! With all of us biting at the bit to get out of our homes and on holiday, we’ll be watching the fashion world for the next new thing to jump off the runway and straight into our holiday suitcases.

I know what you’re thinking, did I watch the latest broadcast from our very own poor excuse for a prime minister? The one who effed up by not listening to any of the early lockdown advice and landed us up shit creek without a paddle? Well yes, I listened to him attempt to make us lose all hope in a summer back on the beaches, enjoying a swim with our loved ones. As I listened, I thought, and this may be very selfish of me, I’m a Barbadian national, so I’m going home!

With that said, how are we going to see all the latest on the runway for Fall? Don’t panic E! has you covered. There will be live broadcasts of all the wonderful new trends beginning on Valentines day, so if you’re stuck for a date, it’s ok I’ll be virtually sat next to you taking front row to watch Jason Wu’s collection at 10pm UK time.

How I’m Showing up fir NY Fashion Week

Being that February is also Black History Month in the US, they will have special offerings during the month to showcase the black fashion icons who have been trailblazers and changemakers in the fashion industry. I, for one, am looking forward to finding out all the inside secrets of what goes into styling Beyoncé, being that I consider my alter ego a bit of a Sasha Fierce.

Alter Ego

So here’s to a month filled with a dollop of love, a sprinkling of fashion and a whole lot of fierce.

Are computers taking over our lives?

What a week. 

For the most part I spent it in PJs with cups of coffee and lots of junk food, staring at a laptop for what seemed like an eternity.

Normally, my laptop and I are great friends.  We watch movies, write bog posts and stories and generally have a whale of a time but there is something about being forced to stare at her glossy screen and do my actual day job that has made my fingers tingle with thoughts of her untimely death as she plummets to the ground from my bedroom window.  I know none of us signed up for this but I REALLY didn’t sign up for this, in fact I ran away from every job that smelled like there was the prospect of being on a computer all day. 

Jumpsuit: boohoo

I like interacting with my school babies, where I can see their expressions, make jokes and get an actual reaction from them.  You can tell I’m a teacher as most of my jokes are aimed at those under 11 so when I test them out on adults I’m met with raised eyebrows and concerned side glances.  Oh how I miss laughter!

This week, after the 9 to eternity job, I’ve spend some time writing on paper.  Call me a weirdo but there’s something quite erotic about holding a pen and watching it slide across the page caressing it with poetry and art.  As well as keeping an eye on my books, I’ve been working on a lot of poetry, mostly focusing on the complexities of love. 

Bodysuit: Primark

A funny old thing is love.  Apparently we learn it from our parents, therefore, I’m doomed (I joke) but that’s a story for another day.  I did manage to get up and put on an outfit or two, so you lucky lot don’t have to be forced to see me slob out and instead get to look at me acting as though I actually have somewhere to go.

Jumper dress: boohoo

With valentine’s day coming, I’m definitely considering dressing up for the occasion, celebrating the fact that I love myself enough that valentine or not I’m going to celebrate me.  I know it can be a time where some single people feel lonely and unloved, I’ve been in that position myself at times but trust me, doing something special for yourself or even for a friend, will help you feel so much better.  Besides it’s one day out of the whole year and I can almost guarantee you will have many other times when people will show you how much they love you.  Just in case you don’t, know that I have love for you just because you stopped by and took the time to read my post to the end.

Leave me a comment and visit my Instagram (mummagz), I love to connect. Have a great week.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

It’s now that time of year where the shops have swept out the last of their Christmas goods with January sales and are stocking their shelves (all be it virtual at this point) with chocolate roses, stuffed teddies, drinking mugs with affirmations of love plastered all over them and fluffy socks, just in case your partner has cold feet.

Now, I’m going to start off here being very cliché and letting you know that the best gift you can give is the gift of love. I can almost hear you cringing but hear me out…

We are in the middle of a pandemic and Covid is killing off loved ones and ripping away the finances of many. It has been attributed to the rise in domestic violence and some studies suggest a rise in suicide rates. Now, I’m no expert in those areas but what I do know is that the mental health of our nation has been hampered by the lack of available services.

Reaching out to people, especially those who you know live alone, is even more so important in times like this when popping to the local community centre and having a chat with those around, is no longer an option.

It’s evident, even when I take the dog out for a stroll, that people are hankering for human connection. The amount of people who have stood at a distance and attempted to strike up conversation is above and beyond what I’m used to. It’s no longer just a smile for the dog and a nod in my direction, it’s people telling me where they’ve walked from that day, how many days a week they work from home, what they do for a living and whether or not they’re bothering to cook their solitary Sunday roast.

I must say, having my 2 children at home with me is an absolute God send. My 20 year old, the socially conscientious child of my two, struck up conversation about the number of cancer patients that have died, likely due to the cancelling of their treatments because of the pandemic. Not only does this sadden me but it makes me feel truly grateful for the current state of my health. So the next gift I would put on my list is gratitude. Let someone know that you are grateful they exist, let them know you are thankful you can call and hear their voice. We aren’t going to be here forever so let’s make our moments really count.

You get the gist here, the gifts I’m suggesting are more acts of service over physical items however that’s not to say physical items can’t play their role in our humanitarian efforts. I was gifted this great little bracelet from Refocus Bands.

At first glance it’s just like any other wrist band but when you flip it over, there is a reminder on the other side.

They come with many options of messages and there is even the option to create your own message. It’s an affirmation on your wrist and a cute, meaningful alternative to the generic box of chocolates and single stemmed roses (though if you buy me a rose I’ll be beaming).

Now to the more traditional gifts, this one is traditional with a twist. Me, just like a lot of people, love a sweet treat and my girl Nikita over at Kitaskakes has so many offerings for the valentines season. For example this beauty of a cookie, the promo version features my ugly mug but don’t worry, you don’t have to scare your loved ones off with my face, if you get your orders in on time the choice of face they eat is entirely yours.

If all else fails, order in a takeaway, grab a bottle of wine from the supermarket and Netflix and chill the night away.

If you have a product or service you’d like me to share, ask away, I don’t bite but I usually charge a fee, after all, how am I going to pay for the takeaway?

The Write Stuff – How to write creatively

Let’s say this is not going to be your usual how to guide. Yes I lead writing in a primary school. Yes I write this little ol’ blog in my corner of the interweb and Yes I studied creative writing at university but does that mean I have the right to tell you anything?

Technically no.

I’m unpublished, except for that one poem hidden in an out of print book somewhere; the name of which I can’t remember. That technically means that I know absolutely nothing. However, what I do know is how to write from the heart and to me that’s what creativity is all about.

Nobody has exactly the same thoughts or opinions about the same thing. I mean let’s test it out… what 3 words come to mind when I say the word morning?

For me it’s stretch, work, yoga now if you chose exactly the same words as me I’d like you to hop out of my head and make your own way in the world because this lane is taken. However if by some non-miracle you chose different words to me congratulations, that is the beginning of creativity. The best exercise in creative writing I got was just to sit and allow your mind to wonder and write EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT that comes to mind. When you’re done you have so much on the page that can create something beautiful.

This poem was composed from random thoughts.

If I could sit in a different city everyday and write for a living, I think that’s what I’d do. Creativity is often born out of experience. The more you allow yourself to experience in life the more you have to write about. How many of us can write about jumping into a river in the mid morning sun with soap and flannel in hand for a river bath, before climbing into the back of a strangers pick up truck to head into the nearby town?

Though it can be taught in books, it’s probably better to read a wide range of books about everything than to read one book on creativity and think that you can unlock the power of creative writing.

So to be clear, what I’m telling you is this.

1. Write anything and everything.

2. Live a life worth writing about.

3. Read widely.

Get those creative juices flowing and when you’ve done that share it with me. I love to see it!



Why So Serious?

Today has been a long day, in fact I’m tempted to say this year has been a long year and it has only just started. That being said, Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my first post of the year. I probably shouldn’t start the year with a moan but having spent the last 3 days between bawling my eyes out and hysteria it may be best that I do just that.

The beginning of the year is great. It’s all about renewal, replenishment, revival, it’s the time where we feel we can have a fresh start and look at life from a whole new perspective. It is of course also a reflective time and many of us, myself included, can spend it beating ourselves up about what we’ve yet to accomplish. We are left questioning the decisions that took us to the place we are now and at times we are left hankering after change or simply a way out.

When I called my best friend at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting to be met with a barrage of tears and a snotty rendition of why nothing was wrong yet I was falling to pieces. Thank God for friends like that (including the one I had already spent the morning lamenting to before this). You’d think that one conversation with the bestie would have me sorted and back to bliss but no by 7pm when another bestie called I was at it again and after approximately 5 hours of talking and laughter I had snapped back to the positive version of me that it took me years to develop and even longer to fall in love with.

Now, 3 days in, where am I? I spent the whole of the day working (by the whole of the day I mean after my morning ritual of affirmations, exercise and coffee) I finished working at 7pm and popped on here to write this post. Preparing for a week of remote learning combined with an inset day and 2 days working with the Keyworker children. I can guarantee you that by the end of the week I will not be fresh faced and full of energy but I will be proud. Working in education you can’t help but feel proud at least one day in the week, whether that is pride in the progress of a child or pride in your own practice as an educator.

Despite my moaning I have a lot to look forward to this year. I have many private plans, which once accomplished, I will share with you and give God the glory. I also have some big birthdays to look forward to. My step daughter will be 13 in a matter of days, my daughter will be 21 in March, My son 10 in August and I will be the big 40 in October (don’t tell anyone, they won’t believe you). So for now I’m just going to revert back to my attitude of gratitude and make the most of every moment.

I did tell you I was a self proclaimed mess didn’t I?

P.S. if you get a moment to visit my Depop store I will be listing items for sale across the year as the mood takes me.

What are your new year plans?

Almost

I almost didn’t write this post today,  stuffing my face with Christmas food, I was so carried away with writing poetry and the children’s story I’ve been working on, that my weekly post was temporarily forgotten.

I didn’t really shop the sales this year and have no intention of doing so unless a lottery win comes my way, which is near impossible as I’ve opted to stop playing, at least until I’ve met my savings goals.  It’s scary to think that I have to force myself not to shop, that indicates a bit of an issue.  I’m not quiet ready to admit to a full on addiction but we’ll see how the rest of the year goes.

The temptation from Instagram almost had me pressing uninstall on the app and hiding under my covers in a cold sweat.  My only saving grace was the M&S vouchers my pupils had given me.  A new pair of school shoes and a couple of good bras later and my gift was well and truly spent and my spending craving partially satisfied.

How was Christmas for you?

I did my annual thing of dressing up for my living room. I’m pretty sure the dog appreciated my efforts, the approving wag of her tail was all the confirmation needed, though when I phoned my mother to say Merry Christmas, she thought I’d just gotten out of bed and told me I could have at least put on a Christmas day face so we can’t win them all.

Feeling Myself

If you’ve been following since launch day you may have read my post Boss Moves you will also note that my tag line is ‘A mix of lifestyle and fashion, from a self proclaimed mess’.  The last few weeks has been one of those weeks were the ‘mess’ rears it’s ugly head.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very proud of myself but I’m also feeling very sorry for myself. 

Every once in a while depression tries to take over this beautiful mind of mine and drag me to a place I really don’t want to go!  It may also be a dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I hate the winter.  The darkness of it, the cold of it, it makes me spend all day wishing I was anywhere but here.  It also makes me feel moody, unattractive and absolutely miserable.  I don’t have to be scantily clad to feel beautiful, but it helps.

Joggers and a T-shirt in the house hiding from the cold is no comparison to a bikini on any beautiful hot beach in the world you can take me to right now.  I don’t think it’s just me, there must be millions of people wanting Covid to do one so we can get back to hopping on planes in the winter to alleviate our aching bones and energise our tired brains.

So this weekend, what you get from me is lazy day outfits and throw backs to some time sunny where I could walk around half naked because I wanted to.

Festive Finds

It’s almost Christmas and if you’ve know me for a while you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of the festive season. It’s probably because it’s advertised as this amazing family filled occasion with lots of food and family fun. I’m not disputing that I have had some great Christmas’ filled with just that but as the years have passed and my mother has disappeared back to our sunny island of Barbados, I have found myself looking forward to another normal day spent at home with my children. Don’t get me wrong that’s lovely, I’d rather that than a day forced to spend time with people I barley talk to.

However, all that being said, I’ve decided to make this Christmas a good one and completely embrace the spirt of Christmas with all the love, laughter and enjoyment that it brings.

The children haven’t asked for much so their gifts are sorted and with it being just us, I have no need to go overboard with the cooking but I will make dinner special. I’ve also decided that as I probably won’t have anything under the tree I’ll probably treat myself to a little gift and here are the ones that top my list.

1.

If I had a spare £6000 laying around then this would definitely be one of the items I’d place under the tree for myself, as an alternative, Boohoo has this little number that is by no means the same quality but at only £16 but there were no lambs killed in the making of this one, and it’s cute.

Boohoo alternative

2. I’m very much a reader so a book has to be on my Christmas list and this one seems like the perfect addition to my book shelf. It’s a collection of essays written by black female authors and as an aspiring author myself I’m going to sink my teeth right into it.

3. It’s all about the knits for me this season and this Jumper dress from Boohoo has just the right amount of detail to make it interesting but is simple enough to keep it classy, just like me.

4. There is something about these boots, I’m not usually into patent items but these almost sing to me, the lyrics are sex appeal, sass and an all out good time. I don’t know where I’d wear them as tier 3 is looking more and more likely here in London and my mood fluctuates between stay home and take a walk around the block.

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5. Then last but not least there is this:

It’s advertised as a gym bag but I think it’s the perfect weekend bag for the weekend in Morocco that I’m sure someone will be kind enough to get me for Christmas.

What’s on your wish list this year?