Girl Meets Change

Girl Meets Change is Kristen Strong's open-letter/ prayer empowering women to reorder their view of change, as she has, to see it not as something worth struggling against but embracing, overcoming and living through gracefully as a gift from God. Girl Meets Change is somewhat like an autobiography, showcasing all the various changes Strong endured such as infertility, chronic illness of a loved one and near-paralysis of her daughter. Littered in-between are inspirational quotes, biblical anecdotes, not to mention various wise contributions from friends and family who've also endured change's challenges. It's not a book I would personally re-read, but I cannot overlook its spiritual benefit for anyone who has/ is currently struggling with adjusting to life's transitions. Here's my thematic review; feel free to let me know below if its worth a read. 
Shirt : H&M | Velvet Skirt : Vintage (similar here)
"There are far better things ahead than we leave behind" C.S. Lewis
Purpose in Pain - Our reactions to change shape our life, so Strong acknowledges why we react negatively, and gives examples on people who haven't and how it's worked out better as a result. It is hoped this will inspire the reader to change her outlook. We know too little of what could be to feel discontent with what is. Undeniably, it's hard to hang  on to belief when it isn't evident, but a big vision deserves an unheard of level of faith. Especially when it hurts. How can a divine provision hurt? There is purpose in difficulty and pain brings about that change. Think about an injury you sustained; recovery isn't a given without enduring some level of pain. Pain is inevitable enroute to recovery, and the same goes for "change".
"Change is an absolute provision of God's grace" Prologue 
Pandora Style Clinic at Pandora, London
"We are hard pressed but not crushed. We are perplexed but not in despair.  We are struck down but not destroyed" 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9
Lone Ranger - Change is devastatingly lonely, especially when it is the loss of someone or something you held dear. However, Strong advises the reader to resist the urge to sweep our feelings under the proverbial rug. We have a tendency to apologise for being human or having normal feelings as a consequence of harsh change. We resent our weakness as failings, and in a bid to hide our feelings, we fail to adequately process this transition. Strong eloquently states: grieving comes before the healing (Chapter 3). So quit the "fine" retort and embrace your truth. Relationships are strengthened by authentic and honest communication, so be real with yourself and your confidant.
"Look back and thank God. Look forward and trust God" Anonymous

"By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst" Ecclesiastes 4: 12
Connect - Suffering in silence only makes the season of waiting seem longer. It also makes the trial seem unique. Isolation robs you of objectivity and creates a sense of barrenness; like no one before you has felt this level of pain. There really is safety in numbers. Friendship is more than an antidote to loneliness. Friends dumb down the hardships and make the season of change more bearable. Friends with prior experience provide a model and invaluable insight into how you can avoid their mistakes and better steer the course of inevitable change. "Community grown from shared adversity forms a bridge" Chapter 8. So harness your ability to see change through an objective perspective by widening your scope, including the views, advice and help from your network. 
"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe" St. Augustine 
Necklace : Topshop | Bag : ZARA (similar here) | Watch : Guess | Shoes : Red Herring
"Change is not a life hindrance but a life occurrence acting as a stepping stone toward his very best for us" Chapter 4
Give Up & Get Up - We have demonised quitting. Quitting is seen as the coward's way out, so we endlessly drum at a point until the cows come home. Why? Lord knows! Giving up gives us a new depth to our faith. Give up and gain a flexible spirit.  The nature of life itself is movement, so we need to be flexible and accept when one door doesn't open so we can knock on another. Our brains are actually wired to resist change, so it makes sense why we feel safer doing what we know.  Going after the same type of guys even though we know they'll break our hearts. Working at the dead ens role we hate, because we are scared to take a chance on our dreams. But we have to learn to sacrifice good things so God will provide the best things for us. Remove the excuses seen as limitations preventing us from accepting change, and embrace them instead in order to walk into a greater fulfilment of our destiny. "Life's limitations are God's invitation to change our expectations" Chapter 5. "When we spend all our energy wishing things were different, we have no strength to revel in the glory of the blessings in front of us" Chapter 5. Stop equating this period of change/ waiting as wasted time. Use this time efficiently  & free yourself of the past in order to move forward into your future. 
"Only he who gives thanks for the little things receives the big things" Dietrich Bonhoeffer 


I won tickets to StylistLive for 3 out of 4 days, last month and it was epic! It was exactly as described; an urban [feminist] festival, crammed full with enriching activities (talks, Q&As, roundtable discussions), live performances (intimate music concerts, book readings from famous authors, live stand-up comedy), fashion shows, giveaways, beauty treatments, photobooths, hair styling stations, and a million and one stalls to foray through and shop from. In the midst of it all, my sister heard a dumb nut ask "why can't they do this for men?". 
Disclaimer: PICTURE OVERLOAD! But be rest assured there are more pictures from StylistLive to come, and will feature in subsequent posts as I couldn't cram it all in here.
Hat : M&S | Jumper : TKMaxx | Ink Coated Jeans : Wallis
The male equivalent of Stylist Live is anything and everything! Club nights, the races, football matches, car expos...are you kidding me? We finally have an event that celebrates the diverse modern woman and you'd rather taint it by drawing attention to the fact it took 2,015 years to create such a unique event? Building and finding female networks is difficult for that very reason; we are highly critical and are socialised to nurture guilt in our DNA. We feel this ache for others and this need to include, however the same isn't done for us! Approximately 50,000 women are pushed out of work post-maternity leave, and with much talk surrounding the gender pay gap, its only right to highlight that women currently earn £400,000 less than their male counterparts over the lifespan of their career! The working environment still very much favours men, with after-work drinks, billable hours being the universal measure of hard work, boozy lunches, and back-pat intrusive gestures to mark success. With work taking up so much of adult life, and women feeling somewhat alienated from the diction of success, shouldn't we be joining forces to carve out networks that cater to our needs, meet our expectations of a fulfilling working life, and help to better prepare the younger generation?
Comedian Bridget Christie
Stylist Columnist Lucy Mangan
Harriet Minter's introduction to the most recent issue of the Guardian Women in Leadership newsletter praised her 'tribe'. A network of working women, who she has chosen to surround herself with, whom she has found inspiring and motivating. I see this 'tribe' trend permeating to other media of late; e.g. Stylist's 'Work | Life' and Marie Claire's '@Work' columns. The benefits of mentorship is undeniable, and the negative effects on women currently in the workforce, not having a mentor or role model to look up to, is equally undeniable. I attended the first #First100Years seminar and was humbled by the achievements of women who'd broken the glass ceiling, but what struck me was the unapologetic denouncing by one, of the difficulty it took to get there. Perhaps she had beaten that "I'm fine" drum for far too long, she could no longer recognise the truth of her struggle. A woman who admitted to having received a rejection letter which stated in black ink that it was solely on the basis of her gender. A woman who stated that the shots taken to the top were based on sheer luck and favour by a male member of senior staff who had taken her under his wing. I was perplexed to then find upon conclusion of that story, that in her role on a board which empowers her to appoint junior staff on the basis of merit, she has found herself turning her nose up at females, in much the same way she once experienced.
Women hate Women. It wont be the first time you've heard that phrase. Perhaps its been modernised into something like "Girls are b*tches", but the underlying message is the same. The truth is, its just not true. As a feminist, I love fellow women, and I encourage young girls to see beyond their means, in the same way young boys are taught to aspire for greatness. The glass ceiling exists, but it IS breakable. Women on boards and high ranking positions stand as evidence of this, so why are we curtailing our possible achievements with an excuse? One reason is a lack of information. Men benefit from their networks because they are one and the same. Women tend to compartmentalise their relationships; a stark line is drawn to differentiate professional colleagues from social friendships. We develop a complex system of avoiding muddling our personal and professional lives, forever in a bid to split time equally between the two, keeping it all in fine balance...and failing. The infamous words of Anne Marie Slaughter conditioned women to believe we can have it all, just not all at the same time. 
Earrings : Forever21 | Watch : Michael Kors
Attending Stylist Live put that thought to bed. Being surrounded by a tribe of women who had achieved a published book on international bestseller lists before they were 30, comedians who had travelled the world raising awareness of universal issues suffered by women, artists belting power ballads challenging public perception of race or love, not to mention talented everyday women just doing their thing and loving life in the process. It was inspiring! And it was a moment of reflection, seated in the Emerald Street chill out area that it truly dawned on me. Approached by a budding entrepreneur marketing her cosmopolitan tights venture (Sheer Chemistry), networking took a whole new meaning when what started as a mild pitch turned into a creative hoard, with women soon joining in our discussion and sharing ideas, evernotes, advice and interesting tidbits they had learned from StylistLive. It was in that moment I truly understood what women had been missing out on for so long in the workforce. Perhaps if networking events were centred around nail bars instead of grubby pub bar stools, we'd be more receptive to whatever initiative is being doled out for the taking. Without streamlining all women to frivolous interests such as beauty or makeup, what I'm proposing is an open-minded approach to diversity in its truest form. Water-cooler discussions about the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in equal measure to the football match last night, so we don't feel shamed into secretly scrolling through the Daily Mail sidebar in our spare time. Rewarding achievements by retail discounts as well as season ticket passes! I mean, we aren't asking for much!
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others" African Proverb

The 25 Plan

How fitting that having contemplated penning this piece for half a decade, when I finally get round to it, its just days before it can no longer apply to me. Perhaps its so you can benefit from the luxury of retrospect I now have? Or more truthfully, perhaps its a defence mechanism to guard me from the inevitable hurt that'll come from the realisation of the stark contrast between my vision and reality. During dinner recently with old friends, we discussed how naive we once were to have charted our achievements on a timeline that climaxed at 25. With some past that landmark seated at the table, it dawned on me that I wasn't alone in my lamentations.
Lipstick : House of Tara (Kontagora) | Necklace : Forever 21 | Rosary : Souk (Israel)
Watch : Michael Kors
By 25, I had a long list of things I'd wanted to achieve from committed relationships and firmly set in one's career, to ownership of a car and a home to call my own. Its incredibly unnerving writing this for public consumption, especially with the knowledge that my nearest and dearest reading this already know what out of that list I am yet to achieve, if not all. Its disheartening to think myself naive to have once thought all this was attainable by 25, because quite honestly, some of my peers have indeed achieved many, if not all, items on that checklist. Why not me?
Cropped Fringe Suede Jacket : H&M | Shirt : Primark | Jeans : Dorothy Perkins
Peeptoe Laceup Boots : Primark
#Goals, the millennial generation is obsessed with it. We are the #selfie generation, obsessed with looking out for number one and constantly in pursuit of illusive happiness. What we fail to see is that we have more blessings in our lives than challenges, and its hard for us to see that because we culturally don't take out the time to express our gratitude on a daily basis. No more than a mere moment of praise via status update or self-gratuitous photo is granted to landmarks in our lives, and so, we take the little things for granted. We are so used to a snapshot existence, that we are losing sight of the bigger picture. Yes, by 25 I am yet to achieve said things, but what about the woman I am today? If we pay little or no attention to the good things, then we adopt a predisposition to negativity. We expect hardships, and bad news, and second guess positivity with an expiration date hanging over it because we have grown accustomed to only seeing the bad, expecting the worst. I am of the belief that we are all assigned a purpose, but that vision is unique to you, and the length of time it takes to achieve it is your cross to bear and persevere. ELLE Magazine The Live Shoot @ Camden, London
We live in a consumer society in the West, and as a result, our greed is ever-growing; we've taken on an Oliver Twist mindset and we always want MORE! However, sometimes what we want and what we can handle are at polar ends. What's even worse is due to our instant means of living, we have grown accustomed to (blame the rise of fast food and online retail), we have lost the value of preparation and perseverance. If things don't work out, self-taught coaches would tell us to abandon it and pursue what we love instead. Prosperity gospel preachers would tell us it would work out along the way. No one is spitting the hard truth that 'working out along the way' takes dedication and hard work, and most importantly, time and sacrifice. Your self-worth and esteem will take a beating and rejection will seem like daily bread to you. Rather than praying and wishing the end game into fruition, pray instead for the ability to be adequately prepared for it. Sometimes we may not have what we are pining for because we are not ready for it; timing is everything! You can't go from nothing to everything, otherwise you wouldn't have the skills or capacity to handle it. Take for instance those who've stumbled upon fame? They soon turn to harmful substances and a reckless lifestyle because they don't know how to handle public scrutiny at a mass level. Revel in your now, and take the steps necessary to achieve that end goal you are pining for. Not achieving what you'd envisioned by 25 isn't the end of the world. If its in your vision, it will come, in its time. People don't notice what you say you'll do until its been done. The end goal is what is visible and can be admired, which is why we must steer clear of comparing our struggle with someone's victory. We don't know what it took to get there, and they can't retrospectively shed light on the extremity of their struggle either because it is now clouded by success. Struggle is relative, and what we may see as a challenging time, may be paradise to another. We must learn to see where we currently are as a blessing, and I know that's hard as hell in a society where filters are bae, but its important to revel in your present. Enroute to success is ridden with challenges, and its ok to indulge those feelings of failure and disappointment, just don't live in it. I have learned this the hard way, and I am still learning, as I have a tendency to over-dramatise and adopt a fatalistic mindset when facing adversity. In life, plans don't always work out the way we once thought, but you can spare yourself the distress or depression even, if you take a step back from drumming at that goal and pitting it against your peers, and focus instead on making sure the steps you are taking are beneficial to your destination. 
"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps" Confucius

Back to Black

It's appalling that I even have to discuss race as an issue in 2015! I lived a privileged life in Nigeria, unaware of racial inequality, and the struggles others faced internationally as a result. Nigerians are united. Muslims and Christians coexisting (well...until the recent uprising of Boko Haram in the North); I remember attending Archbishop Vining in Ikeja, Lagos and leaving church to the sound of Hausa/ Arabic murmurs from the mosque directly adjacent to what is now a Cathedral. Amazing, in hindsight. And colour...well, that whole fair and bleaching malarkey really deserves it's own private rant, but again, for the better part all are treated equally. We are all human before any other characteristic.
Checkered Vest : LOVE Clothing | Shirt : M&S | Tank : H&M | Leggings : Mango
My upbringing in the UK exposed me to an alternative understanding. Race, gender, class...among many other factors, are scrutinised to a bleeding pulp before any major decision is made on your behalf. Of late,  I'm far more aware of the disparity in treatment of others (and myself included) on the basis of race and ethnicity. I know it's taboo to express discontent on such an open forum, but the diluted underlying racism that we're forced to bear at work, in social settings,  even in church...HAS TO STOP!
Black History Month service at Southwark Cathedral
I read a tweet this morning: a fan praising the launch of a makeup range by a BME vlogger, and it dawned on me just how saturated the market is with caucausian femtrepreneurs. As a feminist, I can't knock the hustle of my fellow sister on the grind, but my qualm lies in why there has to be a limitation in available opportunities on the basis of race? Surely talent trumps colour? Necklace : Market (Turkey) | Leather Sneakers : River Island | Watch : Guess
Unfortunately, the world hasn't awoken to that reality just yet, and many are still facing inadvertent discrimination just because of the colour of their skin or the last name they bear.  It sickens me! I have had to gulp down discriminatory remarks disguised as jokes, biting my tongue for fear of being branded the 'angry black woman'. Heaven forbid I express how uncomfortable stereotypical comments about Africans or Black Britons as a hoarded class makes me feel. Black History Month celebrates the tribulations and triumphs of black Britons, and opened my eyes to the pivotal role others' fore'rents played in carving out their role in society, and ensuring the smooth running of so many systems we are now cast out of. The irony.
"The best way to fight racism is with solidarity" Bobby Searle

Purposefully Pink

October. Pink. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Funny how a colour so gimmicky in childhood, could be so purposeful past youth. I attended Stylist Live last week and aside from it being epic, it was informative. The 4-panel debate was the best girl chat I've ever witnessed, and I'm a BIG fan of The Real! Nimco Ali, the FGM activist, was a member of that panel and brought to light gender inequality in medicine, which I'd shed some light on in the past, but not paid much attention to since.
Shirt : Marks & Spencer | Lace Skirt : DIY | Ankara Bag : DMP (Abuja, Nigeria)
With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month,  it pricked my interest to read what myths had been circulating about this largely female-centred issue. Most recent of which was an article published in Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, stating the perils of tight bras on the lymph nodes around our breasts. This is an idea articles in other female magazines have picked up on and run with since. It is advised women wear bras less frequently, and if that proved difficult,  we should opt for non-underwired bras. A man with a preference is all I hear, with no evidence in support, rather just assumptions flung around to control women's actions and conduct. Hear this loud and clear: THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC LINK BETWEEN BRAS AND CANCER. 
Watch : Guess | Sneakers : River Island
Breast Cancer (and cancer in general) is a complex condition involving a range of factors, some of which are beyond our control; hereditary. None of which involve garment care or your choice of underwear, and it's absurd that such ideas are still running rampant in 2015! Blake Lively took a backseat & admitted the responsibility that comes with an online multimedia platform, even commending Goop in the process.  So to see that very same Goop, misinforming it's impressionable audience is disappointing.
Perhaps it's our fault as female readers. Unbreakable: Jimmy Schmidt pokes flaws in modern culture's thirst for male authority in the spinning sect episode, and I can't help but see the similarity with this issue. Some of our foremothers wore bras to their grave, and lived life to the fullest in so doing. Some women lived healthy lives, with regimented workouts, seasonal detoxes and what have you, yet were diagnosed with breast cancer. We aren't to know the sole cause because there is none (as yet), yet we look to an opinionated male doctor for symptoms and biased hypotheses? 
Same goes for feminine woes in general; think about the myths yet to be abolished regarding periods, and the culture of some at shaming a natural monthly process in a bid to keep women in a subordinate position. How long did we idly roam the isles and sites for useful feminine care tips before innovators created BeingGirl? Now there's boxes such as The Pink Parcel, which has adapted popular subscription box methods to meet the needs of its  female customers. Creating a sense of ease (and dare I say, excitement) at the prospect of your monthly cycle. Knocked for pinkifying a rite of passage by critics (I may not completely agree with the colour scheme, but I see its purpose) The Pink Parcel can perhaps normalise and remove the stigma young girls feel towards menstruation. One need not run a marathon with blood soaked gear to prove that point.
Cancer isn't a rite of passage, but perhaps instead of shaming women into living as you desire, more should be done by the profession to accomodate our needs and normalise the process. Not to knock the profession, but shouldn't we urge more females to go into medicine and STEM subjects in general, because they can better understand their patients? Enough is enough with this subpar treatment of grand ailments. If it's not about my bra, its about the cosmetic external choices I make. You don't see men being advised to wear boxers over briefs in GQ! 
The only person that can save you is you" Sheryl Crow (post - breast cancer diagnosis)