To the broken and downtrodden

To those who feel ignored or forgotten

I write this as 2020 is now in full flow.

Some people entered the New Year not filled with the same hope and optimism as those around them.

Perhaps as the fireworks launched on New Year’s the emptiness within you burned just a strong.

Or maybe you enjoyed the night but couldn’t ignore the feeling that someone who could no longer be there should have been by your side sharing the moment.

Maybe you’re entering the New Year jobless; having fallen far from the benchmark of success you set yourself the year before.

Perhaps you look at the New Year ahead and something won’t let you be happy; the uncertainty that the next 12 months may hold fills you with dread.

Just know that you have not been forgotten. You’re in my thoughts. And things will change; it may be a slow-burning change but it will come.

Your Difference is your Power

A few months ago I was standing on my doorstep one night rooting through my bag for my keys in order to open the door. As I looked up, I saw (what I assume to be) a white stray cat strolling across the street. I remember weirdly standing for a minute to admire it; stray cats I see are not usually white so it was a rare sight. It’s white stood out beautifully against the darkness of the London night.

Like that cat maybe we should start wearing what makes us different more proudly on our sleeves. I say this as someone who recently feels like they’ve been in a lot of spaces where they’ve felt so…different and out of place. Sometimes it was because I was black, sometimes it was because of my faith, other times it was simply because I felt like an introvert surrounded by larger-than-life extroverts. At times like that, it can be tempting to either shrink back to try to survive the situation by suppressing your difference so you can camouflage into your environment.

It’s definitely true that differences can be isolating. But differences can be empowering once fully owned and the beauty of them is fully understood. Admittedly, it is a learning process- and not an easy one; one that Is part of the wider journey of learning about and loving yourself. Don’t be someone who holds their differences tightly to their chest scared they might be noticed or zoomed in on. Instead, if like me, you often find yourself feeling such a way in certain social environments I want to challenge you to be a bold different from now on. 

Turning T&Cs into TLC

I walked passed a store recently which had a sign saying ‘free goody bags’; a sign which of course piqued my curiosity as someone who is a shameless lover of free goods. But when I paused to read further I saw that it only applied to those who spent a certain amount in the store- £60 or more.

I perceive life to be like that too; with terms and conditions (T&Cs) attached to every decision we make. Will the decision cause our financial hardship? Will it cause us mental or physical harm? The problem is- we don’t always know what those terms and conditions are until we living with the decision we have made.

This is something I’ve come to accept recently since I tend to be overly cautious with decision making. Simply because, I don’t want to live with easily avoidable regrets (but then again, who does?) But something occurred to me recently- there’s something to be learnt in every regret we have- or rather, every instance that caused a regret. Seeing regrets as learning curves changes things dramatically; for one it helps shift our perspective. Wade through the shame, embarrassment and self-resentment that your regrets have burdened you with and find a learning point you can take away from it. Maybe the lesson is to appreciate those in your life more, to leave fewer words unsaid, or maybe it’s to make more time for the things you love.

That learning curve will hopefully prepare you for a future situation and when the time comes; you will be thankful you went through that regretful situation.

 

An Honest Review: American Son

Hey Guys,

I decided to mix it up a bit and write a film review today.

American Son poster
Image source: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/81024100

Quick Synopsis: At the start of the film we meet a concerned mother (Kerry Washington, best known from the show Scandal) who is waiting at the police station to enquire about her child. Later on, the father (Steven Pasquale) joins the picture and together they wait to find out the mystery of where their child is. It’s worth noting before I start my review that race matters in this film. Kerry’s character is a black psychology lecturer married to a white FBI officer, and together they have a mixed-race child.

My Thoughts:

A lot of ground is covered- but beautifully so in this film. It’s easy at first to think of it as a 3D case study of police brutality. But more lurks beneath the surface; through the husband and wife interactions more is explored regarding the intricacies of interracial relationships, being mixed race/ black in America, discrimination and parenthood.

What makes this film quite unique is that it doesn’t have a big cast (only around 4 actors) and the location is the same throughout. So from a distance, it would be easy to assume not much is going on. However, we learn an awful lot about the characters as time goes on and it’s those revelations that shape the film and (fairly slow-moving) plotline. Ultimately, whilst distracting us from the hanging question ‘what happened to the son?!’.

I was in awe of the acting, you could feel Kerry’s character’s pain which helped to amplify the tension. It might sound dramatic but your heart does hurt several times throughout the film for her. Also, the push- and pull nature displayed between the spouses throughout the film, made an intriguing watch.

Overall, I would give this film an 8.5/10. A tense watch (not sure I would handle seeing it on the big screen) so perfect for Netflix, which it is available to watch on.

 

 

Pressure makes diamonds…eventually

 

food healthy yellow broken
Some eggs make it, some don’t. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

I remember when I was younger I used to whack ice cube trays on any kitchen surface I could find in order to get some ice cubes out. I did that more recently with (what proved to be) a less sturdy ice cube tray and it broke, much to my surprise. Similarly, a popular science experiment kids do in school is to wrap an egg in newspaper etc. and drop it from a window to see if it breaks. Sometimes they survive the fall, sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes I feel like we’re like that unfortunate ice cube tray or a smashed egg. We seem sturdy and strong – and believe we are so – but when faced with a high-pressure situation we suddenly find ourselves crumbling under the intensity of it all.

It’s worth evaluating once in that situation, a ‘storm’ of sorts, how we can we find a way to navigate the waters much more easily. For me, prayer is key for guidance but another thing that helps is self-reflection; how can I channel this feeling of pressure into productivity? What assistance do I need? And most importantly; what is my mindset and how is it feeding into my current situation? For example, I can unknowingly be quite negative at times, so literally forcing myself whilst working to think ‘I can do this‘, works more wonders than we give it credit for.

Listen, listen carefully

I remember a while back I called a friend of mine to catch up. As we spoke it became apparent she was having a tough time in many ways. After hearing her speak I resorted to giving her advice (from the top of my head) and some tips on how I thought she could deal with her issues moving forward. She then got angry stating to me that my tips were things she had already considered/tried and that she wasn’t seeking my advice. I quickly apologised after and we shortly ended the call, with confusion still hanging in the air on my side.

woman in teal dress shirt sits near wall
What does true listening look like? (Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com)

Although my initial emotion reflex was to get angry and annoyed I later realised my friend had unknowingly taught me a valuable lesson through that interaction. Sometimes, when people pour their hearts out to you, they aren’t looking for resolve or an immediate solution, they just want you to listen. It’s a simple observation and one that feels oh so obvious but yet, something even I have much room for improvement in.

Nowadays in my interactions with people, I find myself wondering what true listening is/ looks like. There’s one thing I can tell you in regards to this.

It involves empathy and seeking to understand the feelings being shared with you. Depending on whether the situation calls for it it may involve; giving advice or rather it may involve a simple hug or show of affection. Following up with questions is always good; it shows you are listening,  interested and have a grasp on what is being relayed to you. ‘How did that make you feel?‘, ‘What can I do to help?‘ or sometimes a ‘thank you for sharing that with me‘ may be called for in the aftermath of the most difficult of confessions.

The first line I write with consideration because there are times when you may not relate to the nature of the problems people you listen to are going through and that’s okay. The worst it means for you is that you can’t say ‘I know what you’re going through, [insert personal story of how you relate here]’. I say this particularly when you come from a different world from the person you talk to.

For example, if a person of colour (POC) meets a white person and the former starts talking about racial discrimination they have faced; as white person from a working-class background it is not suddenly called for you to go ‘I can relate because as someone who grew up on an estate blah blah blah…’ Such things can be done with the sincerest of intentions but are, in my opinion, the wrong course of action to take. Rather, take the opportunity to properly listen to the POC and understand their experience. Use it, if you like, as a learning experience. This applies in regards to numerous oppressed or minority groups you may ever encounter; from travellers to the LGBT+ community. Only when such things are taken into account can dialogue between groups and/ or individuals be effectively done.

 

 

Identity

‘Friendships turn into comparison games.’

This a quote from a line in a book I’m reading which explores identity and I think there’s more truth in it then we all think- I can say this as a fact from personal experience. All my life I’ve been constantly comparing and in envy of others, wishing I was as skinny as them, or smart and as popular as them. 

This sort of jealousy and mindset plagues friendships and can eventually break them if the feelings are strong enough. Which is sad, but undeniably a fact.

So because of all this, I think this summer will be about self-discovery. Finding out who I am accepting, embracing and changing for good (If i need to, of course).

Films I’ve watched  recently? The Paperboy, Compliance (highly recommended), Identity Thief (quite funny and amusing but MUCH longer than it needed to be), The place beyond the pines (technically I slept after a bit (It got boring after Ryan Gosling died), so I have to finish that) and yesterday I watched Match Point.

Sorry I haven’t been blogging frequently I’ve been quite busy- for real this time 🙂

 

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I found this really funny for some reason

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Image from http://sebreg.deviantart.com/art/Identity-Crisis-Cat-328116670