Topping up on Good Vibez

I almost gave up on this blog; my tiny part of the webiverse but as the song goes: almost doesn’t count. I started this blog (my first one by the same name) as a creative outlet to describe the ins and outs of life as a single parent family. When I transitioned over here I wanted the blog to be more of me as a woman and less of me as a mother, of course motherhood would always play a feature, it is after all one of my most important jobs but I wanted to tell the more authentic story of a woman, one that loves fashion, holidays, reading, writing, business, fitness, black excellence and a good time.

5am gym session

In recent weeks I’ve been met with some bumps in the road that mean I’ll have to hold back a little and make sure my content matches the image of a modern day educator, which is basically the same image as a Victorian school mistress so from now on what you’ll get is the same spicy me wrapped in clingfilm for self-preservation.

Since the beginning of this year I’ve gotten back into fitness and I’m working really hard to be my optimal weight and strength. I’ve got a good gym routine (3x a week at 5am) and I’m attending kickboxing twice a week. My friend has suggested intermittent fasting as a way to tone up and build muscle so this will be the next phase in my journey, anyone who has done this before feel free to let me know how it worked for you.

Fitness to me has always been about both mental and physical health, I glow best when I’m taking care of both of those therefore finding time to do things I love, with the people I love, has to be at the top of my list of priorities; especially since the last couple of years of madness. This week I’ve done cinema with my boys, VR gaming with my nephew, basketball in the park with my son, dinner and drinks with my work girls and brunch with a friend I’ve not seen in a long time and I’ve still managed to fit some rest in between. In a world where certain environments can have you feeling stifled, you have to know where to find your peace.

Gifted experience

I’d never done proper VR until we visited DNA VR in Battersea, it was good fun and absolutely surreal. I had to come out of one game in which we were gliding in the air because it made me feel dizzy, it’s crazy how it tricks your brain into feeling like it’s really experiencing these alternate universes. What I will say is that although the VR experience itself was great, and the staff were helpful and friendly, the venue however is lacking in any type of pazazz. The toilets weren’t working and apart from the signage it was all pretty dull. I’m not likely to go again as I feel like it should be part of a bigger arcade experience where you can carry on and play some other arcade games with the family and make it a proper day out but for a first experience it wasn’t bad at all. With it being in the New Battersea Power Station development, you do have the advantage of being close to Battersea park so all was not lost, we managed to grab a beef hotdog from a nearby food truck and sit in the park for a while and any time spent with family is time well spent.

I must be the only person who wears a dress to play basketball

A Hug and a Hot Chocolate Fixes Everything

Forget everything I said about being flirty and fabulous, the forties so far has given me athletes foot, a urine infection and eczema on my hands so between frequent toilet visits and itchy palms (not the money kind) I’m also banned from playing footsie. There go my plans for Saturday night. Not only does my physical health seem to be on a downward spiral but my panic attacks are on the rise, it’s like my brain has gone from 0 to 100 with thoughts of my ultimate demise. Sorry to be so morbid but I do like to be honest with my readers and that right there is my truth. When it comes to my health my brain seems to zoom straight past the, “Oh dear, you need to rest stage.” to the “Oh my God, you’re not waking up when you go to sleep tonight.” Thankfully, I’m not always like that, in fact most of the time I’m optimism and light so I won’t drag you into a pity party instead I’ll share with you my recent staycation which in all honesty, is one of the only reasons I managed not to fall completely to pieces these last couple of months.

It’s not often that I get to run away from the busyness of London these days, due to the fact that covid rules have restricted our movements, especially as I’m super paranoid about the vaccine, so Devon was definitely the welcome break that I needed.

Dog and boy in tow we hit the motor way, our friends following behind in their own car. We would have travelled together had it not been for the fact that we both have tiny cars and had to pack to not only accommodate ourselves but also our dogs. Packing for a dog is nearly as difficult as packing for a new born and I was sure something would be left behind. Really, it was the boy I should have been worried about, everything I handed him to put in his suitcase went onto his bed which meant he near enough travelled with two and a half outfits for a five day trip.

We ended our journey at the cutest little cabin hidden in the countryside with nothing but horses, pheasants and the occasional rabbit in sight.

As places I’ve visited in the UK go, Devon is definitely one suitable for the outdoorsy type. This was my second trip there, my first having been for a wedding and I think I only partially qualify as that type. I love the outdoors, long walks by the beach and picturesque tea houses where they serve fresh cream tea with a smile and a treat for your doggy friend but I’m a city girl by heart. I need to be near enough to shopping centres, theatres and bars; not that I spend much time in those places; I just need to know that should I wish to, they are right on my doorstep.

As well as that, it’s definitely not the place for rainy day fun. We struggled to find things to do in the rain but as the skies cleared we found ourselves back in the outdoors taking in the sights from the Devonshire Moors. That trip started off well, we love a bit of hiking and exploring but unfortunately for us and probably due to my crazy dog trying to chase all the sheep, we ended up way off track, truly lost and wading through mud, rivers and high grass lands. My boots were definitely not made for that which certainly didn’t do anything to help the athletes foot issue!

I probably could of done with a good pair of hunter’s to keep my feet dry and as I’m slightly in love with Minnie and Mickey (Mouse of course) their new capsule collection Hunter x Disney, would be right up my street. If anyone fancies treating me before my next adventure, they go on sale on November 15th and I’m a size 4.

Needless to say after the adventure (or trauma, whichever you prefer to call it) of our journey through the Moors, a log fire, hot chocolate and s’mores were definitely on the cards for us. What I will say is this, the company that you chose for a trip like this is so important. We went with one of my best friends, who is not only as spontaneous as I am but just like me, she believes a cuddle and a hot chocolate at the end of a stressful event fixes everything.

The best bit about Devon for me was definitely the beaches. If I ever decide to trade in London life, it will be for beach walks and an ocean view preferably in a place where sunshine is the norm. I don’t know what it is about the sound of the waves but I feel my most calmest when I’m by the sea, It’s as though the waves have the power to carry away all negativity and the shore has just enough depth to help me feel grounded.

If you could move anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

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 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?

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 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 old 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?

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.