Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another month, another book. I was sent a digital copy of 'Losing Heart' by the author, Donna Brown, to read and review. This is a gripping novel about Helen, who having waited months for a heart transplant, is given a second chance at life. Her gratitude following the successful surgery sees her reach out to the mother of the donor heart in what starts as a promising friendship, but soon turns into one plagued with lies, secrets and deceit. She soon discovers that "Mother [doesn't always] know best" Chapter 11.
Tartan Shirt : Motel Rocks | Skirt : ZARA | Sandals : TJ Maxx
I was a bit apprehensive at first, picking up a book with such a gory cover, but all initial doubts were soon dispelled as I quenched its contents. As tension mounts, I was challenged to dig deep into my psyche and question my own moral values, the choices I'd make in Helen's shoes, and my definition of love and the cost I was willing to pay for it. That was one of the overriding themes; the price paid for something you love. Whether it be a spouse, spawn or survival...all was called to question when someone dangled a threat to it on the line. 
Portobello Road, Camden
Tipping Point is defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. When one has endured a near-death experience, has kept up a sham marriage, and is in the creative industry? It's no surprise that the culmination of all these factors would cause one to question one's current existence. I think we've all been there at one point or other in our lives where we feel we can no longer endure "another evening of biting [your] tongue until it might as well bleed" Chapter 1. The trick is not to let a recurring thought become your mantra, as that will drive you crazy and "guilt never had a deadline" Chapter 1. Love and life aren't "a Hallmark movie" Chapter 1; it's ridden with flaws and failure, but that's not to rule it out as any less lived. If you are truly displeased with a current situation, then make the right informed choice that isn't selfish and takes all factors into consideration, and make your peace with it. The protagonist, Helen, does that right at the end and although I had my qualms with the process, I believe it was the best choice for her and all concerned in light of the circumstances.
Watch : Guess | Sandals : TK Maxx
"Stay scared because it's the only way you'll stay safe" Chapter 10. As a Christian, I am learning the hard lesson that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and that's truly the basis on which I stand firm in my faith (although it's wavered of late). It's often misunderstood that to live in fear robs you of the passion and authenticity necessary to truly drive you to the peak of success and self-actualisation. I argue instead that to err on the side of caution grants you the unrivalled benefit of making objective decisions on the basis of the better weighted factor. What I mean is, to live in fear of a higher power allows you to displace responsibility on a bigger source and act within your capacity alone. Helen does that; controlling and navigating what she can, but relinquishing control of her daughter, husband, nemesis and lover as truly the best way of being "forewarned is forearmed" Chapter 7. The best way of achieving this is  demonstrated perfectly by Helen; stepping back, doing your adequate research and all you reasonably can, and leaving all aside.
"We're all entitled to a second chance" Chapter 11

Losing Heart

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 has been the year of interest in politics and current affairs. From the Goodluck Jonathan vs. Buhari showdown Nigerian elections, to the Labour vs. Conservative battle just last week in the UK. It seems all conversations lately have centred around the economy, social mobility and maintaining a fair justice system, among other manifesto headlines. It might stun some of you, in light of the fact I'm often praised for my intellect in the comments below, but I grew up overstating my loathing for politics and current affairs. Growing up in Nigeria, politics seemed like a hobby for overworked business men, hacked up on liquor with tobacco'd puff-clouds swarming above their heads as they discussed issues they would never take active steps to rectify, or people they'd never vocalise such disdain towards if met face-to-face. I found their droning about problems mind-numbing, and thought of nothing worse than submerging myself in that clear blame culture. 
Coat : River Island | Shirt : TK Maxx | Dress : H&M
However, something happened in University. Not just the broadening of mindsets that inevitably occurred when you chucked a loadful of individuals of different backgrounds but similar ages together, but...FEES! Tuition fees. Conservatives proposed increasing fees to mirror their foreign competitors, while their political counterparts argued otherwise. Students would riot while said politicians remained bigots, and the results saw the lower classes effectively pushed out of higher education aspirations in the last 5 years. That experience opened my eyes to social injustice, pressure groups, effect of lobbying for change, and most importantly, honouring my civic duty and voting in line with my views on particular issues. 
Parish, City, State: Hogarth & Government (Hogarth House)
There's a common misconception that politics is for men, or reserved for the ugly, but that's not true. Politics is just a term, as every other profession or interest has its jargon, so does leadership of a nation and its governing policy. Your interests are affected by politics in one way or another, whether it be fashion & makeup (the price of products is affected by the markup/down of VAT decided by the ruling party), travel (from airport tax duty charges to free movement laws, politics has a lot of say over our right to liberty), or sports (financing leisure initiatives nationwide)...all that is at the whim and control of the governing political party we vote in. That penny-dropping eureka moment is when it struck me that I was inadvertently interested in politics for YEARS, as have all of you. So it irked me greatly when on election day, people were proclaiming their disinterest in politics based on an ill-conceived notion that it did not affect them or their daily lives, because as illustrated above, it clearly does.
Choker : Gift from South Korea c/o LolliHearts | Watch : Guess | Loafers : NewLook
I have found myself engaging in more political debates lately, and not just because I sound more intellectually enlightened substituting Cameron Diaz's affairs for that of David Cameron in conversation, but because I can see the bigger picture now. Politics isn't a topic set aside for adults alone either, or a subject matter only to be discussed by the nouveaux-riche, but one that's all encompassing in its reach. Tall, short, black, white, rich, poor. We are all fortunate enough to live in a society that affords us the liberty to debate, deliberate and eventually decide who governs us. That's not a right to be taken lightly, and putting my personal political policies aside, I am proud of the outcome of the elections mentioned above. It demonstrates the masses' engagement with their civic rights by voting in who they thought would uphold those rights for another term.
Riddle me this - "More people vote in 'American Idol' than in any US election" Rush Limbaugh  

Politic'd Off

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I was lucky enough to win free tickets to a private pre-screening of Spooks before it hits cinemas this week, courtesy of O2. I was a bit apprehensive, having never watched the series before, but thankfully it was a "walk in blind" plot & what a stellar plot it was. Luckily for you all (as it means no spoilers) what I found most interesting was actually in the title itself; leaders working for the greater good. As a Christian, this theme is not alien to me as I believe Jesus committed the ultimate sacrifice upon the cross. Somehow, it sounds unreal, somewhat idealistic; leadership through servanthood, but people in positions of authority have to make such decisions each and every day! Spooks encouraged me to dissect the thought-process of a good leader, and the characteristics that set such individuals apart from their peers.
 "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way" John C. Maxwell
Duster Trench Coat : Thrifted | Bodysuit : H&M | Trousers : Wallis
"A good leader is not a searcher...but a moulder of consensus" Dr. MLK Jr. 
What struck me were the different characteristics of the leaders showcased; manipulative, selfish, acting without self-doubt...the list was endless, but multidimensional. Good leaders and bad leaders could be told apart by the motive behind their actions (i.e. Selfish vs Selfless), but more interestingly, the best leader steered clear of the spotlight, allowing others to shine in his place.
O2 Greenwich
"A good leader takes a little more than his/her share of the blame, a little less than his/her share of the credit" Arnold H. Glasow  
Deflecting praise/ spotlight need not be self-deprecating, but a means of encouraging others to step up to responsibility (and perhaps even lightening your own workload in the process?). As a Sunday school teacher, what I've found enlightening of late (in my effort to instil a sense of leadership in the younger generation) is those who thirst for the limelight often find themselves knocked down at the earliest hurdle. Taking a step back allows you to better assess the situation, and act in the best interest of all concerned, not just oneself. Thus making you a better leader than the megalomaniac emperor in new clothes.
Bag : Warehouse | Watch : Guess (Bicester Village) | Sneakers : River Island 
"A leader's job is not to do the work of others, it's to help others figure out how to do it themselves" Simin Sinek
What I loved most was the last 10-15mins of the movie; the climax. Aside from the action & general ghen-ghe'ness of the shooting & what have you, the lesson was that we all have leadership innately built within us! It's up to you whether you choose to seize that quality or not...and how you choose to use it also. The good leader taught a man to fish & sent him on his merry way to fend for himself with invaluable skills that won't steer him wrong, and the bad leader ended up jeopardising lives, their's being no exception. Take heed.
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists" Lao Tzu

Spooks: The Greater Good

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I am yet to draft the dreaded #25Plan post I've been planning for literally half a decade now. Perhaps because I'm as far from the plan as Moses was from the promised land, and I find that ugly truth daunting. Considering this the prelude, I will start by broad-brushing through the cultural connotations that underpin my thoughts, motives and actions with regard to the ticking clock. Upon leaving for Nigeria last year, I was relieved to leave behind endless conversations about 'The One', life plans, ticking biological clocks etc. My peers an I were obsessed with fine tuning each topic down to the minutest of bolts, and I'd grown jaded with it.
"Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning" Winston Churchill
Denim Shirt : Topshop | Skirt & Sunglasses : H&M | Heels : Red Herring (Debenhams)
Discussions between millennial females centre around finding your compatible counterpart. It becomes deafeningly so when you're in your mid-twenties and your peers are getting married and giving birth in stable relationships. Side eyes become a lot less subtle, and spotlights hone in on the intricate details of your life. What an African mother once guilted you to feel contrite over, is now teasingly questioned during numerous cross-examining sessions about your social life. At 25, you've peaked. Attention isn't so much on your academic achievements or career aspirations anymore, but your surrounding life. Males do not experience the same, but that's a societal double-standard that we are yet to eradicate.
"Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24 hour days" Zig Ziglar
Stila Beauty Event : Selfridges, London
Time don' knack! I have finally woken up to the fact I am 25, which to some is young, but to me is the cusp of my prime years. Fortunately for me, I push myself to maintain a well-rounded view (whether I achieve it or not is another matter entirely), so I envision achievements in all arenas from social to familial to otherwise. I say this because a sole focus on one above the other, while keeping a firm eye on the ticking time bomb, has cost me the other. I share this not to incite a pity party on my behalf, but to illustrate the subconscious sacrifice of some we epitomise. I've seen some industrious women give up their entrepreneurial ventures to support their int'l business other-halves as they trot the globe at their expense. I've seen naturally maternal females sacrifice their familial aspirations for the sake of the coin. All because they reached the point I've expressed, where they've caught sight of time running against them and panicked.
"Love isn't something you find. Love finds you" Loretta Young
Love, unlike so many other arenas of our life cannot be committed to time. As discussed in previous posts concerning goals and career challenges, love just happens. I say that not to indulge young women to lower their expectations, but maintain a certain standard at all times. Watching the clock can only lead to the demise of a relationship (even those yet to be started), as you will inevitably (as we are innately programmed to do) start timetabling key points to be achieved by particular dates e.g. say 'i love you' by 6 months or propose by 2 years or be in a committed relationship by 25. Yes, face time and set achievable goals but be aware that life and love are uncontrollable, and to pin each to the clock is futile.
"Life is a game, and true love is a trophy" Rufus Wainwright


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I religiously watched the Kardashian empire expand and I'm sadly watching its demise...all under the bracket of reality TV. I watched young Kylie grow from the youngest of endless siblings, to a confident teen...and then came the rebellion against structured education & I knew the end was nigh. Without spending too much time dissecting her life (because quite honestly I know nothing about it other than what's broadcast for our entertainment), I wanted to shed light on the mystery that is "The Kylie Jenner lip".
Dress : Topshop | Shirt : H&M | Heels : Dorothy Perkins | Hat : ASOS
Anyone remember MTV Celebrity Deathmatch? The playdo caricatures of celebs were pitted against one another in a wrestling ring to the death. I dug this up because I remember the Angelina Jolie match, where she used her oversized lips to battle her opponent. Back then, it was comical to see a non-BME lady with such voluptuous puckers! Fast forward a few years, and she's the envy of her peers...yet no beauty endorsement or makeup line was tossed her way. Why? Because her looks were uncharacteristic to her ethnic origin, and there's no space on the beauty scene for a unique look. This is evidenced to this day with the likes of Nicole Scherzinger's asian themed Herbal Essences ads (apart from JaiHo, she's never declared any such Asian decent) to Yonce's controversial L'oreal ads with the distinctly chiselled European features to appeal to a wider market thanks to that ever confusing platinum barnet of hers.  
Exclusive beauty event at Debenhams, Oxford Street c/o The Telegraph and Elizabeth Arden
Contemporary beauty picks aspects of each race to create this unattainable end product. From the golden Mediterranean  skin, the full voluptuous African lips and hips, the feline Central Asian eyes, to the chiselled European bone structure. A culmination of all these looks would make for an image destined for "Botched", as its undeniably impossible to have it all. Yet, here we are, watching from the sidelines as Caucasian impressionable individuals vie for thick lips and hips the "natural way" via suction cups and OTT squat challenges. As I scrolled past endless oversized duck lips (red-rimmed with the pain of post-suction of a glass cup or other unimaginable implement) on my Instagram feed #KylieJennerChallenge, my heart numbed at the reality of the overly image conscious society we live in. This lip evolution process is clearly dangerous as I've observed some 'victims' (as thats how I see them) sustained severe bruising (which required layers of makeup to conceal), and complained about the discomfort they felt making full use of their lips for hours after. Numerous Doctors have already weighed in on the possible permanent disfigurement caused by DIY lip-plumping, yet the #KylieJennerChallenge persists.
Bag : Michael Kors | Goodie Bag : Elizabeth Arden (Prevage)
I've seen some disturbing images of young teens in the plight to look like their favourite reality TV star, use shot glasses to achieve her plump lips, and watched it crack under pressure causing severe injuries and requiring medical attention. All in the sake of a beauty trend? I find the idea of early image modification disturbing, but its being propagated on all social platforms from numerous youtubers choosing to go under the knife to mainstream media figures opting for plastic surgery after years of declaring body confidence. I am against the inevitable effect this is having on the younger generation who are blindly following their idols, making uninformed decisions that could negatively alter their looks forever. This has to stop!
"There in imperfection" Conrad Hall


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I couldn't help chiming As Told By Ginger's theme tune by Macy Gray while writing this; "Someone once told me the grass was much greener on the other side. Well, I paid a visit, though its possible I missed it, it felt different, yet exactly the same." Is that the truth or what?
Blazer : ZARA | Dress : Boohoo | Loafers : H! by Henry Holland
We live in the age of comparison; its subconscious. Scrolling through your timeline/feed, you can't help but covet thy neighbour's X or pine after your peer's Y. You want it so bad. Yearn for it for so long. Want turns to need. And soon, you can't envision what live would be without it, so you begin its hot pursuit. Well, I'm here to discuss what occurs once it's been attained; the anti-climax. The "now what?" moment I've spoken about in the past. 
Geffrye Museum, Museum of the Home
I've abandoned some and basked in others, yet the feeling remains exactly the same. Much like the Macy Gray lyrics, I found that yes, I've felt accomplished for a nanosecond and somewhat smug about that particular achievement...all before reality set in. You see, no matter what, there's always a con to every pro. That's the beauty of life; it is perfectly imperfect. Nobody or their life is perfect. Third world relatives look to first world underclass relishing their constant electricity and Liberty, yet the same can be said vice versa of the exotic climate and liberal lifestyles. 
Maturity dawns at the realisation that green grass is relative. Shades can be misinterpreted, and texture can be acclimatised to. What am I driving at? Success is what you make it. The mind is a powerful tool; what you visualise comes to pass in your actions. So learn to live in the moment and relish every second as a blessing. Training my mind to alter my outlook rather than bask in my circumstance is what I believe keeps me accomplishing achievements beyond my heart's desires because I'm focused on pleasing a higher power (God), rather than pitting myself against X or Y (earthly desires/ vanity). I feel like this is the umpteenth time of me drumming in this message, but it still hasn't hit home for me yet, and I'm guessing someone else reading this feels the same. 
"Every great thing starts with an idea, followed by doubt, and finally a resolve to abandon or pursue" Dane Cook


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