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?

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.

Beyoncé 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.

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.

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?

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