How to Succeed in the Struggle

I sometimes find it hardest to write when I’m happiest, it’s as though pain causes me to express myself in a way that no other emotion does. Strange that. Or is it?

Pain is, in my opinion, the body’s way to trigger our minds into searching for solutions. Without the pain of slavery causing my ancestors to be separated from their loved ones, would they have found a way out? Without the recent pain of watching George Floyd murdered on our TV screens, would my community have pulled together in such a way to start a wave of change, unity and passion to break down systemic oppression?

Without the pain of rejection and the fight to be seen for the work we do would migrants continue to create great works in London, ‘the melting pot of creativity’?

This week’s London Fashion Week has shown a great deal of fashion created through struggle. Whether that be the struggle of acceptance in the mixture of Western meets West Africa (Labrum SS 21 ‘The Cotten Tree) or those who champion fashion design for social change (Tolu Choker).

Labrum
Getty/Tristan Fewings
Labrum
Getty/Tristan Fewings

The offering this year, in these unprecedented times has been bold and exciting. From collections that get you thinking about what you would do if you knew these moments were your last (IA ‘Hour Glass’) to the fun vibrant crystal jewellery collections. We have surely been spoilt for choice.

IA London Women’s Fall 2021

What have been your highlights of fashion week so far? Last week I touched on New York Fashion Week. Do you excel in pain or triumph in happiness? Let me know.

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 kickstarter campaign, 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?

Is Clubhouse as good as they say?

Fresh new week and after the Sunday snow, there is sunshine.  There is nothing like a sunny day to bring a smile to my face and a dance to my feet.

Last week for me was all about Clubhouse and getting to grips with the app famed to be the next best thing in virtual communication. As a bit of a social introvert, who isn’t the most confident in a room full of adults, the prospect of speaking on a platform full of strangers was not something that appealed to me. However, I went in to network and see what golden nuggets I could pick up from the goods and greats of society.

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that in my corridor there seem to be a lot of people on club house talking about, clubhouse…

Boring.

Those are the rooms that I started off in, as obviously when you get onto the app you want to know how to use it but a couple of weeks in, when the same people are in the same rooms speaking about the same nonsense, it gets tedious. I’ve now found myself in the other rooms in my corridor where business and property are the focus. I have to say that it’s a great space to be in if you really want to learn but it’s also a great space to be in to speak if you know you have something of value to offer.

Club house is a space where, if you want to you can gain tips and tricks from the business world, you can philosophise with brilliant minds and you can pitch to investors. It’s full of creatives, educators, marketing gurus and the like but is also a place where you can bump into sharks if you don’t know which waters to swim in.

Where would little old me land in a room with Keisha Cole and 21 savage? Only in clubhouse. What did being in that room show me? It showed me that these people, at the top of their game industry wise, are just as damaged as the next person and the scary thing is, some of them aren’t dealing with their issues and are living walking time bombs waiting to explode. I won’t repeat some of the things I heard, masked as jokes, but I’ll just say this, revenge is a dangerous game.

So would I recommend Clubhouse? In short yes. It may not be all flowers and roses but it is a space where you can grow in confidence and learn from the best of the best. Don’t go in looking at yourself as an underdog as I’ve heard some people refer to themselves, you have as much to offer as the next person. Our lived experiences give us insite and you never know who can benefit from what you have to say.

And what to wear when you’re there? It doesn’t really matter, they can’t see you. 😉

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 stripping off in the Caribbean on a back road up a mountain and 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!

Personal Space Bubble

I didn’t post yesterday, I’d like to say that it was purely an oversite and I forgot, unfortunately that’s far from the truth. After having spent all week staring at a computer screen, which is the new normal for teachers, I took Saturday to break away and have no computer screen time at all. Sunday I was back at it again uploading and creating files for the week ahead, to say I’m tired would be an understatement. I’m exhausted and I absolutely would rather be back in the classroom with my school babies than hiding away at home because the government failed to implement a successful track and trace system to protect people from the dreaded Covid.

So here I am today, late, to fill you in on my exciting life of glitz and glamour. I would love to say that I have a whole lot to report but apart from meeting a couple of new dogs and their owners, I really haven’t had time to do anything and even if I did, there isn’t anywhere to go that doesn’t involve standing in a queue.

Speaking of standing in a queue, I was doing my weekly shop and the woman behind me clearly didn’t understand the 2 meter rule and hit me with her shopping basket. She did apologise, she wasn’t the one that was rude. That, I’m sad to say was me. My response, “You can move back and give me some space you know.” She apologised again and I overheard her telling her mum she had “forgotten the 2 meter thing.” If I’m honest, it isn’t even Covid that made me feel that way, unless I’m out at a party dancing with a good looking member of the male species or snuggled up at home with loved ones, I don’t enjoy people in my personal space bubble.

I’m going to try and get better with that. I know now is probably not the best time to learn to get closer to people but at least I can attempt to be a little more welcoming in my demeanor and connect with my inner yogi when the mere thought that someone is getting too close sends my mind into asylum mode.

So that’s me for this week folks, no real glitz and glam and no place to wear fancy shoes, I might have to throw a zoom party just for an excuse to dress up.

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.

Outfit Ann Summers