My Paris/Travel Blog

So initially I never had any plans to travel in 2019. I had spent a lot of time, effort and money last year in Toronto, that I said this year I’ll just kick back and enjoy the goodness of the UK. However, when my good friend Yelena invited me on a girl’s trip to Paris in January, I just couldn’t resist! I said yes and we instantly started planning. I was in Paris for a total of 5 days and 4 nights, and it was a packed, fun-filled trip. Here’s some of the activities that I got up to, it was really a lovely trip and I would recommend everyone to do!

Day 1: CHAMPS ELYSEES, EIFFEL TOWER, ARC DE TRIOMPHE

So, on day 1, we went straight into the city and tackled the biggest landmarks possible. Since we had a limited time in Paris, we thought it would be best to tackle the most important things first and then go for other activities later. The good thing about these places is that they are in close proximity to each other, either by walking or by metro, so it was fairly easy to do these landmarks in one day. I must say- the internet does not do these justice, its truly a sight to see by the naked eye, the amount of intricate detail that goes into each design makes each building spectacular in its own way. I never appreciated architecture that much until I saw these buildings, no shade but London’s skyscrapers can kind of be off putting in terms of design in comparison to France, it really makes you value the amount of time and detail that went into the creation of these buildings.
When you go to these places, they can be quite busy, especially during days of clear blue skies, so patience is needed when trying to get a good camera shot! However, it is so worth the time and energy of looking at these lovely landmarks- it truly is a sight to see.

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Day 2: DISNEY VILLAGE, VAL D’EUROPE.

Day 2 was spent releasing my inner kid at heart- at Disney village. I swear no matter how old you get, a part of you will always jump at excitement once seeing the castle or the numerous Mickey Mouse signs. That day was a bright and sunny day, causing us to take great photos around the garden areas and release our inner silly selves! The village consists of numerous amounts of shops to buy souvenirs; however, I would recommend buying it at stands at the Eiffel tower, due to a cheaper price and variety.

After this, we enjoyed some lovely Chinese at the Val D’Europe shopping centre near our apartment. To me, it was similar to Brent Cross or Wood Green- many shops and many places to eat for a cheap price, therefore saving us loads of money.

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Day 3. LOUVRE, PALAIS DE VERSAILLES, NOTRE DAME, FOIRE DU TRONE

This day was jumbo packed with activities to do – so by the end of it we were so knackered ! firstly we set off for the Louvre museum, this was the place I was most excited about as of course the Mona Lisa was going to be seen, however my friends and I were just excited that we got to breathe the same air as Beyoncé and Jay Z did. I must say the museum is so beautiful- I know I keep repeating this word but it’s honestly the only word I can use- I was just so in awe by its beauty.
So, my mission was accomplished, and I got to see the Mona Lisa. Guys, it’s tiny. Like tiny…
It has a whole room dedicated to her as she is protected by glass that is most likely bulletproof, two wooden blocks and not 1 but 4 security guards by her side. I took my picture and then I left lool, the crowds were ridiculous !

I would recommend going to see other artworks apart from her, the museum holds thousands of beautiful paintings full of loads of history to learn. You can ponder over statues such as Venus de Milo, St John the Baptist and the Sphinx. Those places are less crowded, and you can really see the beauty of each artwork that is present. Most importantly the museum is free! (gotta love a bargain)

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So, we did end up seeing the Notre Dame in all its goodness and glory. I wish I could go into what happened, but I wouldn’t want this post to be too long. First of all, it truly is a spectacular building. We didn’t get to go inside due to the long queue wait, but simply gazing into the exterior of the church was breath-taking. I thank God for two things- one for his protection as we didn’t go on the day of the fire and two because I got to set my eyes on this building beforehand, not many people got the chance to view the real thing- and although they are rebuilding it, it will never be the same as the original, therefore I remain grateful. However, once billions of dollars were raised within weeks of the fire, it leads you to question where the world’s morality really lies. After all, we know there are people dying and in poverty due to war and conflict, and to this day we choose a building over innocent lives… I guess I may go into this in another post, but it’s just food for thought.

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Lastly, we went to this amazing funfair called Foire Du Trone- and it really put the UK’s funfairs to shame. Forgot what you see at Winter Wonderland or Brent Cross, France has the best funfairs hands down! although it was freezing cold, we didn’t let that stop us from enjoying delicious churros and crepes, as well as all the amazing rides!

Day 4: VAN GOGH EXHIBITION, SACRE COEUR

On the last day we decided to indulge ourselves in our artistic splendour and spend the day at the Van Gogh exhibition, this was held at the Atelier des Lumieres and was honestly one of the best exhibitions I had been to. The exhibit consisted of a warehouse transformed into a digital viewing of all his works. No matter what position you were sitting in, his artworks were projected across all walls, making the atmosphere almost terrestrial. It was a great experience.

Lastly, we made the journey to the Sacre Coeur cathedral. It was so peaceful not only because you weren’t allowed to talk but because of the high ceilings, candles being lit and the stained-glass windows. My friend Yelena and I actually took a moment to pray, and it was so relaxing because everyone in the church was so peaceful and posed. Definitely added to the calm atmosphere. It makes you reflect on all the opportunities you get to travel and enjoy with your friends, so a few minutes to demonstrate some gratitude to God was the least we could do!

And that concludes the post, Paris was an awesome trip and will definitely be seeing me in the near future again! Watch out for my next post where I share tips on travel and travelling with friends. 

Stay blessed! x

 

#ESSENCEINTERVIEWS 3

Welcome back to another Essence Interview!

Today’s post consists of me speaking with the lovely Laila, also known as FusionofCultures on YouTube. Her videos range from showing lovely tutorials of rich and bold hairstyles to sharing useful tips on managing all types of hair, whilst bringing positivity and female empowerment to her channel. In addition, she has recently become a business owner, launching her brand Wild Seed Botanicals in 2018, a skincare brand that focuses on vegan products, bringing benefits to the skin, hair and most importantly spiritual wellbeing. Since I haven’t spoken about my hair journey for a while here, I thought it would be great to bring Laila on here to share some tips, and also share her experience with her brand, for any young entrepreneurs who would like some start up advice!

  1. What made you want to be a part of an online platform such as YouTube?

    For me, it’s slightly different to what it is now. When I originally joined YouTube, it was just a video hosting platform and people used it to upload content and videos for their family members to see. It wasn’t necessarily a destination or a search engine as it has become now. For me I initially joined so I could do just that- to have the link to share with other people. I used to be part of an online community called Keep It Simple Sister (KISS), and this was a platform for black women to come from all around the world and share their hair tips, or healthy hair journeys. I was relaxed back then and when I decided to transition, a lot of people were asking me how you are achieving your hairstyles? you should make videos! That is exactly what I did, I would make videos just so I could share the link within that platform and then overtime it started to grow and then I decided to turn it into a channel, just a destination where everyone could come and see the content that I had been uploading.
  2. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from YouTube?

    YouTube has definitely instilled a mentality of – there is nothing you can’t achieve or can’t have if you put your mind to it. It has made me bold in my approach to life in my career path that I took initially and my career path that I am on now. It has installed that mentality of being entrepreneurial. I don’t think I would have been that if I hadn’t started a YouTube channel.
  3. In 2019, it’s fair to say a lot of women have made the choice to go natural, do you think it’s due to women like you who can educate on haircare or has it become a trend to do so, so people just follow?I’ve had conversations in the past as to whether being natural has become a trend, and for us to be here now in 2019 still asking that question, it’s already been dispelled. It cannot be a trend as it is still happening. Even if it started out as just a trend, trends do start awareness and awareness creates change. So, something that may have been in the beginning a trendy thing to do, has now created long lasting impact within our community which was very much needed. Not that going natural defines your blackness, or defines you as a black women or man, however it does feed into changing the narrative of self-hate. As much as we try and deny it and as much as we don’t want to admit it, for a very long time, our natural hair or the way it grows on our head was seen as something to be ashamed of. Something that needed to be changed, something that was ugly and wasn’t beautiful and now that narrative has changed. I’ve witnessed people that I started out this journey with, being relaxed and changing to become natural and now their children have become natural,, it’s changing generationally and we talk about generational wealth a lot- and it’s not necessarily always about money, but it’s about building economies, building communities and shifting paradigms and I feel like the natural movement has done and surpassed that at this point.
  4. 4. Do you think women who aren’t relaxed feel a certain pressure from the natural hair community? 

    It could be that they do, within any community online, especially, it could be that there are certain agendas perpetuated and pushed in that natural hair community which we can’t hide from. There are people that do have a certain notion about what it means to be natural and they push that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a certain pressure from non-naturals by naturals. If you dissect within the natural hair community, there are hierarchies even within the natural hair community unfortunately and certain types of naturals even feel that their type of hair isn’t good enough, and they may feel a certain type of pressure to have their hair look a certain way or be a certain way. I think with any other community, there are so many issues internally, that effect those in it and those around it and those who have a certain proximity to it.Coco Oat Bath Milk - Wild Seed Botanicals

How has the journey been with Wild Seed Botanicals so far?

It’s been amazing! it’s been fulfilling, eye-opening and also very difficult. I think that’s the one thing we fail to talk about on the journey, or on anything. If you start something new, or anything that is not intrinsic to you, something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to you, it can be difficult. On the same side it’s slightly like a dichotomy as although it has been difficult it has been one of the most fulfilling things, I have decided to do in my life to date. I am very proud of it, to turn 30 and to lookback and see the idea that I had, something that wouldn’t of even been confident to move forward with, I took a leap and I did it and I couldn’t be more prouder. And if the business was to fail tomorrow, I would still feel extremely proud of myself that I did it. There are so many people whose dreams remain nothing but dreams. To know that I have actually tried it and gave it everything, makes me proud of where I am and who I’ve become.

Do you feel pressure to compete against other online brands from influencers e.g. hairlines, clothing lines, cosmetic lines etc?

Not necessarily. I believe we have started to move into an age, where I like to participate in a new age of collaborative effort. For me when I see for example other black women that are now entrepreneurial or starting their own business- I never see that as competition I see that as progress. For me, if they win then I also win. If they are able to break through glass ceilings, that means there is a possibility that I could do the same and vice versa. So, in that sense I don’t see anyone as competition, and I don’t feel pressure to compete with other people that have opened their own businesses or anything like that, however as a business, you have to have a certain level of strategy moving forward. One thing that I say to my current intern, when we are online and following brands within the same industry or niche as us, you see these brands as competition only because they are aspirational, following people that are aspirational allows you to strive to be your best, move forward and see something or understand the processes of how the industry works. So, we do have competition – it is business and that is how competition works, but in a broader sense and overarching sense I am more open to seeing a collaborative effort then I am about individuality.

What would be some tips you would give to a young person in starting their own business?

First tip- you need to have a vision that is extremely strong- something you can literally feel tangibly in your mind. You see it, you know what it feels like once you achieve it and you need to visualise every single one of these things because the journey is never easy. Being able to see that vision clearly will keep you moving forward and will stop you from throwing in the towel.

Secondly, unless you feel passionate about it, don’t do it. The passion is the other element that will keep you going and will help you to wake up in the morning, it will fuel and motivate you. There are things in the world that can inspire us but only you can motivate yourself, if you are not passionate about something, it is very hard for you to achieve it.

Finally enjoy the journey, at each stage that you achieve something, you always have to acknowledge it and celebrate every single win, and celebrating the small wins is what will make the times that seem difficult, easier as it would remind you- if I could overcome this, then I could do the next thing! 

CHECK OUT: 

IG: wildseedbotanicals, neffyfrofro
W: wildseedbotanicals.com

Thanks for reading, stay blessed!

Essence Talks 4

Mo Money, Mo Problems !

puff daddy dancing GIF

Hey guys,

So, after a long-needed hiatus (blame uni of course *rolls eyes*) I’m back with a new essence talk- this is where I discuss my views on a topic that has normally been chosen by my followers on IG- so keep a watchful eye on my stories where I announce when the next essence talk is coming up!

Today I am talking about teens and finances- the handling, the spending, the saving, the preparation, the cash losses, and the numerous, numerous amounts of L’s taken (slowly reminisces on those struggle times lool)

I guess my talk begins with growing up. I always questioned why in the UK, young children are not educated on the processes of taxes, credit scores and mortgages. I mean unless you’re going into a career such as engineering or construction, or anything lab based- I don’t necessarily see the need in me learning how to find the value of X or how to do simultaneous equations in math lessons.

Secondary school times consisted of me spending away my weekly allowance as if I was Bill Gates himself lool- back then, something like a tenner was a lot guys, it was a lot. Little did I know the importance of spending in moderation and saving and investing. I remember watching a video from Debbie Crown, as she is quite fond of spending and handling business. She said something that really stuck with me- imagine from young if she had saved at least £20 a month up until the age she is now (let’s say she’s like 24-25) she would actually have a lot right now to indulge in any investments, start up businesses or simply the ability to treat herself whenever she worked hard. Man! – I thought to myself “why didn’t I have that same mentality of money preservation when I was younger!”

It wasn’t until my late teen years on this earth, that I started to realise the importance of money management. Since having a personal accountant or banker to guide you through your finances is not available (they also cost money) I decided it was high time that I focused on my finances and took control of how I was utilising it. Now you may be wondering- you’re not married, looking for a mortgage, or own a business, so why are you so fascinated with handling your money? I believe starting or getting into the habit of doing so will lead me into setting myself up for success by the time it is time for me to go into all of those requirements that need me to spend. (God willing)

Teens and Money Today.

What I must say is, I feel empowered. Almost everyone around me is “hustling” or trying to find their path to earn an income. This is what makes me proud of my generation, and majority of it is done through talents- whether it be hair, makeup, fashion or simply having a part-time job on the side (which is very hard to do when you are enrolled as a full-time student) everyone is trying to take on a hustle that would allow them to be financially independent and that’s what I respect.

Unfortunately there is the negative side to this-the pressure to aspire to be a part of this rich percentile that fits into the brackets of designer shoes, diamond chains and luxurious accessories- now I’m not judging and I’m definitely not throwing any shade, but I guess teenagers today live in a world where social media presents itself as a platform to display your luxurious items all over, for the world to see. The thing is, many of these things don’t come through from legitimate means, and that isn’t shown on social media, so these “luxurious” items act as a disguise to the reality of things- the realities of how these items were bought in the first place. Well that is a different topic for a whole different new day.

Financial Education.

If I had the power to change the current syllabuses of Maths in the UK, believe me I would. I don’t believe it takes a university fee of 9 grand and over for young adults to realise that handling their finances takes priority and should be done with serious consideration. I believe that if we were taught with the ability of handling our finances appropriately, we would be able to make smart decisions. My parents have always been advisable when it comes to managing your money, none of them work within finance, but of course they have had years of experience of surviving in this Britain to know the ins and outs of utilising your cash, therefore I think I’ve been alright so far. Of course, I get out of control sometimes with the occasional unnecessary purchase (usually make-up) but I’ve learnt that yes, whilst money comes and goes, it should be wise of you to slow down on the spending and save up for future investments.

Tips:

1. Control your spending:
Whenever I go on my shopping trips, I play the value game. I literally ask myself if this is valuable to me? do I really need it? And what benefit is it going to give to me? If I can’t answer these things, then it’s probably not worth me tapping my card of the machine for it. It’s imperative that the money leaving your account is worth the time you spent to earn that in the first place.

2. Get a savings app
Now I’m probably playing myself as I am yet to invest in a savings app (don’t worry it will be done after this post is uploaded lool) but there are some good apps out there such as YOLT or MONZO that help set you weekly or monthly budgets and help you to track when you are overspending. I think this is great as everything we need is normally stored on our phones, so we can track our daily spending. Alternatively, we can have someone accountable for your spending e.g. a parent or close friend who can monitor when you are going over budgets

3.Have a savings account
Now this can cause a love hate relationship- but I love it more than hate it. Having a savings account is great as it allows you to store money away into another account which can help contribute to things like Christmas or holidays. Also, most banks give interest on savings, therefore you will get more money accumulated over time. However, I’m guilty of transferring between accounts most of the time as it’s so easy to do so (literally done through a phone app) so it can get tempting to pass over money to the current account- I guess you have to be really strict on yourself to avoid doing so.

Thanks for reading !

 

 

 

 

The Fast.

Hey! How are you!

From the 11th to the 15th of Feb I decided to fast. This was my first official time doing this under my own controlled settings and terms. I must say it has changed me and transformed my outlook on my Christian life and journey, so I decided to write about my experience of it. Also providing some tips on how to go about it especially if it’s your first time- don’t worry I’m a foodian just like you guys and fasting is nothing to be scared about.

night court eating GIF by Laff

So, for those of you who don’t know what fasting is, it is basically when you remove a common thing from your life in substitution of getting closer to God. Now this is mainly associated with food as it is a common thing you need daily; however, I did a social media fast in addition, removing my accessibility to both during this time of my fast. Instead a person fasting would substitute time spent making or preparing food or time on social media and decide to pray, read a chapter of the Bible or just serenade themselves in worship music.

My strategy for doing so was to fast from the moment I would wake up until 6pm on that same day for a period of 5 days. This meant no food was to enter my mouth until 6pm when I would break it. All social media apps were to be logged out of, however I wished I had just deleted them as I was tempted to check my Snap or Insta stories from time to time. The only app I allowed access to was WhatsApp as I have university commitments which uses that app as a means of communication.

My day started off with worship and a reading from the Bible plan ‘Fasting with A Purpose’ which was perfect as it was 5 days, so it could keep me going and I never missed a day. I would then set off to uni, but even through that I tried to incorporate God in everything that I did, so as I walked, I listened to a worship playlist- Tasha Cobbs was really doing it for me lool, or I would just take time to reflect on God whole heartedly. After uni, I would do any work needed then watch a sermon- Michael Todd’s sermons really captivated me, specifically his ‘Charged Up’ series and his ‘Church Sucks’ series. Then by 6pm, I would say a final prayer and break the fast!

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Why I did it ? 

So, the main reason why I did it was to prepare myself. That weekend I went to a retreat in Wales, and I knew I wanted to prep myself for a weekend which I knew was going to be hectic and transforming. But truly it was social media. I WAS ADDICTED! . When I say addicted I think I was truly at my worst, although I was not active by posting messages or pictures, I would be on my phone from morning till night, so badly that my mind was bursting to read a book or prepare for my week at uni, but I physically could not shut my phone off, as if it there was a sprit controlling my hand and glueing it to my phone- weird right ?

I just knew I couldn’t continue so a social media fast was needed in order to free my mind for a while.

Let me just say- IT WAS HARD. I refuse to sit here and type, boasting about how easy it was to not eat or use my phone until 6 pm. Especially with a hectic and demanding university schedule. I was drained and miserable, and had low energy all the time, so concentrating on a lecture was very difficult to do. I guess with the social media fast, I should have had a build up to it- as going from being my phone’s best friend to completely neglecting it for a period of 8+ hours became very difficult to do. I believe on one of the days I had to break my fast in the middle as I was on campus for 9 hours, so energy levels were seriously dropping, but I didn’t let that deter me from continuing.

What I learnt : 

I learnt so much about myself during this time of fasting. One thing that you’re not meant to do is to boast and let others see that you are in this time of fast:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father” Matthew 6:16-18

And yes, I did just that. Everywhere I went I uttered the words “yeah I’m tired as I haven’t eaten for like 5 hours” and I was waiting for their “Pele’s” in return. I realised this was not the correct way to go about it, we shouldn’t boast about being in this state and we definitely shouldn’t show it in our body language, no matter how weak you may feel. Instead, I learnt just how much reflection I could do, and how Jesus himself must have dealt with the 40 day fast, we are really not like the highest, in a sense of power I guess, our bodies physically can’t go 40 days without food or water, so I guess this shows just how powerful and might Jesus is as he could endure it.

Why you should do it:

– It surrenders yourself to God
– It draws you nearer to him, as the things we spend most of our time doing e.g. scrolling through timelines is spent reading the word or watching a sermon
– Brings humility, you now reflect on your positioning and your priorities, one week was enough for me to realise that I spend an excessive amount of my time on unnecessary things.
-Detoxes your mind: There is more to apps! Walking, chatting with friends, sitting in a park- anything that will allow you to be removed from your phone is great for your spirit and mind.

So I end my post here, my first fast wasn’t the easiest to be consistent at but I must say it has taught me many lessons, I hope to repeat this act of fasting throughout the year and pray that it strengthens my intimacy with my Father.

Remain Blessed x

Growing Up As The Only Girl.

Oh. So … we’re really going down memory lane huh?

Okay no problem.

It was so random when I thought of the idea of writing about my experiences growing up being the only girl. So yes if you didn’t know I’m one with three brothers all older than me, one residing in Ghana and the oldest being in his late 20’s. Whilst this may not seem like a big deal, there are probably girls in my position with 5 or 6 brothers, I still thought it was great as I could reminisce on the good old days of begging my brother to play Barbie and watch Bratz on TV with me. This will also include my perspective of being an ‘African’ only girl as I believe so well that this will differ from let’s say the… British perspective.

Oh yeah, you can have the chance of gazing into the pictures of my early childhood as a treat, I guess!

Phase 1: Adolescence

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I always wonder how a girl who grew up with brothers who loved football, Power Rangers and colours of dark greens and blue hues, could end up being a girl who is a lover of beauty, hair and female empowerment. Basically, how I didn’t end up being a tomboy. As a young girl I loved playing with my brothers, and I guess I could say the same about them. Let’s just say at this age I was prone to receiving the palms of my mother’s hand against my thighs in quick motion if she caught me playing with her Fashion Fair foundation or caught me walking in her red pair of heels across the flat. Goes to show that from a young age I was never drawn to those things my brothers loved. Every Christmas I would still crave the longing of a Barbie doll whilst my brothers ran around the other Toys R Us isle for the latest action figure of Spider-man and Ben 10.

Additionally, I had a neighbour who lived 5 steps away from me (literally) who I played with almost every single day. We’re still close to this very day and I must say she was my style icon when I was younger. From teaching me to gel up my hair, to what clothes I should wear for that summer fun fair to applying my first set of individual eyelashes for a party I went to in year 9. So most of my after school evenings were spent at hers. So, around this time, I guess it wasn’t such as big deal that I was the only girl. Yes, I longed for that same Sister-Sister style relationship I had with another girl, but simply I enjoyed being around my bros. There were definitely some hilarious memories that I will never forget- just not the same if I grew up with girls I would presume.

Phase 2: The Awkward Stage.

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Ah who can forget the joyous days of secondary school? The times where you would go in and laugh till tears came out of your eyes, the times where hormones are raging and you’re going through mixed emotions- emotions that only a fellow female would relate to.  See it’s quite difficult to adjust to bodily changes around the female region (you know what I mean, I’m not going into detail, everyone should have done GCSE Biology) and not having anyone to talk to about it besides my mother was not easy. I guess this is the stage where I needed the ‘sister’ I so longed for the most. By the time I joined secondary, my older brother had endured at least 2 years of school, whereas the oldest had already progressed towards college days. It still baffles me how I managed to organise and do my prom all by myself with the help of my mother of course. But even that- the age difference is a bit you know somtin somtin -from time she said I should do pin curls or geri curls to prom I knew yeah “Mum you are really not familiar with our time period are you?”  I must say I have a lot of female cousins, and just like my old neighbour, my summer holidays and half-terms were spent at theirs. Whenever I had an occasion to go to, be it wedding, birthday or any party they were always at my beck and call. For hair and makeup- I guess my personal beauty team, only we were related and I loved them very much lool.

So, with this growing adolescent stage came the time where you may hear the frequent statement of “You are now the woman of the house” “You have to cook for your brothers” etc bellowing from your mother’s mouth. My fellow Africans, why is it that the women is automatically seen as the lady of the house in terms of cooking and cleaning whereas the men are ushered into their careers of money-making, high-position corporate places? It is 2019, and we have come along way for the female. And that’s why I love empowerment so much, but I must say during this time those words began to remain forever in my memory. It is then that I wouldn’t say I gained a bit of envy, but I soon realised my ‘place’ in the household in comparison to my brothers. I don’t know if this was a way my mum used to prepare me for adulthood and motherhood as in reality you do have a duty of providing for your family, maybe a better method could have been used, which could have stopped me comparing myself to how my brothers got treated in the house.

Phase 3: Present

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So here is 19-year-old me, currently typing away right now amongst other things I have to do. I guess the big question is- did I struggle growing up as the only girl, and the answer is no, I haven’t struggled. It’s been a crazy journey and being the only girl has impacted the way I think till this day. Yes, having a sister would have been nice and eventually I will get one once they get married, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that being an only girl has taught me so much about the male mindset. How they think, develop and mature. It’s actually quite funny.

And besides, a sister is so much more than having somebody who shared the same womb as your mother, I consider my friends from school, from church and my relatives all to be my sisters.  I wouldn’t change any arm wrestle, any playfight and any moments of struggling to hold the Xbox controller for anything. It’s the memories that matter to me the most.

So, if by chance you are reading this and you are an only girl in the midst of pulling your hair out of your scalp to help cope with the stress- don’t worry, it’s okay. Years after, you will look back and be grateful for these memories that will never you, and it is with this that I end my post.

(waits for applauds)

Too cringe? Lool

Stay Blessed x

#ESSENCEINTERVIEWS 2

Hey, Hey!

I’m back with another Essence Interview, and this is where I sit down and discuss tips and tricks with people, I find motivational, inspirational and people who have a different outlook on how they live their life. It’s been a while since I sat down with my good family friend Desiree, an Olympic athlete who so happened to be staying at my uni at the time (see how God works ey?) and it was such a great interview, if you haven’t already you can read it here.

So, for today’s post, I have sat down with former blogger Tisha, founder and editor of blog behindtheschmile.com. A blog filled with amazing and relatable posts to do with lifestyle, top tips about friendships and life, and of course her personal experiences that keep us intrigued with joy as we realise, we all go through similar paths in life, isn’t it weird that social media reminds us that we are all the same, like really, really similar in person. Food for thought…

Funny story is, I didn’t realise I had known Tisha from way back, like secondary school times, until a fateful day at a church we both attended during my first year at Uni, and then I saw her, a face too familiar to forget, so I had to approach her, and my assumptions were correct, we had attended the same secondary school and ended up at the same university ! (Really is such a small world) I instantly had to ask her to feature on my blog!

So, Tisha, thank you for taking time out to talk about blogging, so I guess I’ll start with the blog itself, the backstory; why did you start and what made you decide on the name?

So, I started blogging in Year 13; wasn’t anything too exciting and honestly, I didn’t have anything to put on my UCAS lool, so I thought, why not do something that no one else is doing? People have been blogging for a while, but at that time it wasn’t really a big thing. I got with a group of friends and we decided that we should all blog together, covering a range of things from fashion, beauty, makeup etc. At the time I used to get a Glossy Box which was a monthly beauty subscription box, so that was my section I covered every month. So that was how it started, the blog was called ‘Our Thoughts, Your Eyes’ however I never understood the name lool, out of 8 of us, I was the only one that didn’t like the name, but we just went with it.

As you can imagine, trying to get 8 people to run 1 blog- it wasn’t working out well! So, after 3 months, it was only me and one other girl that was writing. By the time I got to Uni, I decided that it was my blog and I was going to handle it on my own. So, I did a series about packing for uni, budgeting, settling into uni. And then I did a post about freshers; because my freshers was a bad experience and it was about relationships during freshers, although I didn’t have one, a lot of older guys were trying to take advantage, so I wrote a post about it- and it did really well. Then I thought, okay why don’t I write about relationships in general. I spoke about networking and being insecure and friendships, which turned into a whole series and did really well- so I thought maybe I can write about something that’s not a Glossy Box, so that is when I started to write more lifestyle/development posts. I then went on a placement year and I had this blog- which technically at this point was only mine, but I still hated the name, I just didn’t understand it, so I decided I can’t keep writing under a name that I didn’t understand, and ‘Schmile’ was something I’d been saying for a long time, when I was in school everyone just wanted to take an ordinary word and make it sound interesting, additionally people were always telling me to smile because I frown a lot, so I turned the word smile into something more interesting- Schmile

At the time, the blog was completely anonymous- I wasn’t associated with it at all, therefore I named it ‘behindtheschmile’ as I was the person behind it writing- so that’s how I came up with the name!

Why blogging, why not YouTube or Instagram, and giving how popular it is today would you have changed it to these platforms if you never started blogging?

Funny story- I actually had YouTube, I’ve never been one to do things by myself and after year 11 had finished that was the longest summer that we had, so me and a friend began a YouTube channel, and she was really into fashion and style, not so much me, but I still wanted to be a part of it, however collaborating with friends isn’t always the best option, so I set out myself and bought a camera and got my siblings to record me doing skincare videos, hauls, OOTD’s when they used to be popular , D.I.Y videos, as these were the most popular videos to film-they would get like 5000 views, and that was a lot back then!

However, I realised, I wasn’t doing the videos out of interest, I was just doing it as those were the videos I had seen. But with blogging, I didn’t see or read any other blogs like the ones that I had written, so it was different.

I stopped the channel because everything felt forced- I would literally make videos on how to bendy roll your hair- meanwhile I’m questioning myself like am I even a hair stylist? So, these things weren’t of any interest to me.

Instagram was never a platform for me to be honest- I took pictures but I never thought of me being someone big on Instagram- so I guess blogging was for me as I like writing posts. Also, I feel like blogging is easy in not becoming famous. With YouTube, if nobody watches your videos- everyone else can see that, same for Instagram. With blogging as I first started, nobody knew I was doing it, and nobody could tell whether it was doing well or not. If I wrote something and it went really well then, I was excited. If I wrote something and it did really badly- oh well nobody needs to know! I think that’s the main reason I stuck with it, if it did badly then nobody knew, but most of the time it did really well.

What did you love and hate the most about blogging?

Love- so many things. When I started blogging and writing things that I cared about, I loved that I was able to articulate my feelings, I felt like I was going through a lot of things and I felt as if people didn’t understand what I was going through, so when I wrote things down it became a lot clearer and complete strangers were able to relate to what I was saying for a long time. Until 2016, I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it, so all the views that I had were from random people on the internet that I had never met, and God bless them all as they made me so happy. I was able to connect with people that understood what I was dealing with and could offer advice to. That was really encouraging as I went through a lot personally, I guess from year 13 to Christmas of last year.

Now hate is a strong word, and it’s the word I’m going to use as when I revealed my identity and was no longer anonymous, a lot of people started to make judgements. People that I know and didn’t know, a lot of people had the need to tell me what I should and shouldn’t write and what not to expose about myself, a lot of people were very judgemental as I like to write in a style that was very informative- so I say what I had been through then how I dealt with it, almost as if I was teaching and I knew better than everyone else, so a lot of my personal relationships became very tense, as all of a sudden they had a lot to say about this girl who 5 months ago never even knew was writing this blog. The reason why this was so challenging was because I started this blog when I was figuring out who I was and while I was figuring that out a lot of people had things to say, so I’ve decided to still write things, but keep it to myself.

How did you balance blogging alongside your personal life e.g friends, university, work etc?

When I first started blogging, it was just for UCAS, so I saw it as another homework assignment to write about, I guess I’m not a social person, so when I got to Uni, freshers wasn’t that fun, I wasn’t involved. So, whilst everyone was out, I was writing blog posts, I guess it was something to fill up the time. Whilst I was on my placement year, I was so isolated, in the middle of nowhere, didn’t know anyone, I was the only person that looked like me ( I worked in engineering), so blogging gave me something to look forward to, so instead of binging on Netflix, I would spend 6 hours a day writing blog posts- and I had like 50 blog posts to go and I was just rolling them out and rolling them out. So, I had a lot of posts backed up that were ready to go each week. In terms of balancing it wasn’t a struggle as it was the only thing that I was doing outside of school/work. The blog became my life. The only thing that was difficult to balance was relationships, as if I would write something and somebody would read it, they could take it the wrong way- and that that didn’t end too well.

What would be your top tips for someone considering starting a blog/website?

  • Write about something you enjoy- don’t do it because everyone else is doing it, if you have something passionate that you want to write about then write.

  • Be able to write about something you enjoy so much, you don’t care if nobody reads it. Love it to the point that you couldn’t care if anybody else noticed it

  • Be consistent on your niche. If your niche is makeup, keep up with the latest beauty trends and products so people are updated, if it’s music keep up with the latest songs being released. However, if you are writing a self-development/lifestyle blog then take your time, making sure to take regular breaks.

 

  • Always put out good quality work- never rush anything. There are posts that I’ve looked at and after I’ve thought to myself- why did you upload this? Just because I had rushed it. It got to the point that I was writing just to upload something every week It’s nice to see improvement though after a while, so its optional if you want to keep those posts up
  • Do your homework, blogging is not as easy as people may think it is. Before you write something, you have to do your research, after you write a post you have to edit it and decide on a good structure. You then have to promote your blog, not just your Instagram page, this includes responding to emails and comments left after each post – it can be a full-time job, similar to a social-media marketing job.
  • If you are self-hosted, you have to learn how to run a website securely, this includes protecting it from viruses and hackers, sometimes you have to invest good time, and well time is money

Any last comments?

Starting the blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, I’ve met a lot of really nice people and learnt a lot about myself by gaining these new skills. So even if you start a blog and it doesn’t come out as successful, make sure you find something you can learn from it, as there is always something that you can learn.

Thank you for reading !

ESSENCETALKS 3

Hey readers, and Happy New Year !

I’m glad to start off the new year with an ESSENCE TALK, and you can find these posted on my Instagram where I state on my stories that I’m about to write one, and you can send your questions in !

So today’s question to open up the year is:

“Can Religious people listen to secular music ?”

Quite frankly, you can write a whole dissertation, book, journal on this topic alone, but for the purpose of this post I won’t keep you guys reading for ages! So the question states “Religious” and I interpret that as all religions, however I only follow one which is Christianity, so I will be basing it off of that, but I’m sure the points I make can be applied to other religions too.

So to answer the question – YES.
I am a firm believer that you can listen to all types of music, whether it be gospel, grime, RNB, hey even the latest drill songs can be enjoyed if you really want to. Now I understand where the controversy and the confusion may arise as how can you be listening to “Great are you lord” on Sunday and then listen to “Gun lean on the beat as well” on the following Monday- some would say you are just contradicting yourself on your beliefs and what your singing during your gospel music sessions

However I believe that the fundamental difference between the two are the words/lyrics to songs. I’m no music expert, but we can all agree that songs have lyrics and then a beat to it. Now some secular songs may have explicit or demeaning lyrics to it, and even I may find it too offensive, so I simply don’t listen to it- BUT, I must say I do love a good beat anything with a good vibe and a cool production of sounds has me hooked instantly- hence why Afrobeats can be considered one of, if not my favourite genres of music to listen to.

Back to the point I was making (I always seem to digress off topic *rolls eyes* lool) I believe as religious people we shouldn’t let words influence the way we act or our lifestyle. Therefore I try not to take lyrics to heart or literally, especially if they don’t go with the word of God.

It’s quite difficult this topic, because I would be lying to you if I said that I listen to gospel music and worship music 24/7 because in reality, I don’t. But that shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing or a downer on your faith, after all I believe in the verse “So whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of god.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Therefore if you are following a secular song, I suggest if you feel in your heart that you cannot honour God by listening then simply stop. However I don’t feel it’s necessary to cut all secular music out of your life, God wants us to enjoy, as well as enabled us with the freewill to choose what we indulge ourselves in, so I see it as harmless if you do listen to secular music, I guarantee you I will always be having a Wizkid or Maleek Berry song playing in the background if you’re around me , it never leaves me feeling less religious.

I can’t speak so much on other religions, and if I do, I definitely need to go back and do research before I write anything on here- just so my facts are accurate, but I have the feeling that some religions may be a bit stricter and may prohibit access to

So I end it here, by saying that I believe religious people can listen to secular music, however it’s important to note that some music may have profanities that might disagree with one’s religion, so I guess its subjective and it sole relies on the person to make their judgement on what music to listen to.

Thanks for reading !

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Confessions Of An Insecure Girl

Hey Readers…

So I remember writing this post back in April of what was 2018 , however something prevented me from posting this , but i thought its’s a new year and why let things get in the way of posting your great work and effort … so it’s not an easy post but it i’m sure it would motivate someone who may read this :

So, let’s take a trip down to memory lane… maybe around secondary school times. The early stages of puberty have just kicked in and you see yourself developing in various ways. Ways that maybe you didn’t quite understand. As unsolicited cushions of fatty tissue, unattractive blemishes and wild pubic hair begin to invade your body.

Then the social construct of insecurities comes along, and you start to realise that as your body changes, the images you’re faced with in a daily basis don’t. The covers of Vogue, Grazia and even page 3 of the Sun, look nothing like you. And before you know it, you’re out of the game. You tick none of the boxes when it comes to the world’s perspective of conventional beauty.

When it comes to insecurities, the thought of the body comes to mind, doesn’t it ? Don’t get me wrong, body image- the major player that men and women of all ages have to battle, even as we mature and emotional uncertainties about our bodies tend to remain forever young. This can range from height and weight, right down to awkward physical assets such as boobs or maybe deeper issues such as skin tone. It has been stated that by as young as 13, at least 50% of girls are significantly unhappy about their physical appearance. Upon reading this admittedly, I fell into the 50%.

University intensified this for me. Stepping into a new place where you barely know anyone and first impressions are imperative to making your mark. The first nights out are always the great ones meeting people and making close friends. However, it stood out to me that I was insecure about my appearance when I wouldn’ even wear certain clothes because it exposed certain things about my body . E.g weight gain. I feel like this was the case for many young men who aspire to be extremely built #Gains and women who want the cole bottle curves.

I guess it became quite serious when I was at the point if virtually starving myself, just to get the look that I wanted. The look that “society” deemed to be perfect. Now dieting is completely fine, and it is considered healthy- only when you are doing it the right way and for the right reasons though. Now, I can admit that I was doing it for my appearance and definitely doing the most unadvisable way. I would have frequent periods of simply not eating ; describing it as my way of “fasting” and adding my ideal body weight to my short lost of prayer points.

I fell deep into the dark side of social media and created a new goal for my weight gain.

Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape which is mostly influenced by social media. I mean amazing bodies are literally glorified all over timelines and explore pages, and while this virtual fit-fam may seem motivating to one individual, it is a detrimental reminder of a constant insecurity to the other.

With around 800 million people using Instagram daily, it is inevitable to be influenced by the photos posted on the platform and not develop insecurities about it. Especially for a young adult in this generation, you are more or less likely to have at least one type of social media platform you use, whether it be Instagram, Snapchat or even Facebook. So you are bound to have encounters of public figures or celebrities with ideal body types which can be discouraging at times to the viewer.

I really got hit with anxiety with my self when it came to social media. I was constantly checking my weight, my appearance in the mirror, how my makeup looked whenever I was out and constantly reapplying that Fenty glow believing it would magically mask how I truly felt. I was so bothered by how others perceived me and would review old selfies to remind myself of the times I felt I was THE actual sauce. It took me a while to realise that it was in this constant cycle of feeling unfulfilled about myself and how uncomfortable I was to be in my own body. I knew I had to control this urge of wanting to improve something with my appearance, even when there was nothing to work on.

So here are some thing i’ve started to note to ease this feeling of not appreciating myself:

Written affirmations : I would write down my best assets and things that I value about myself and read them over and over again until I started to appreciate these things for their true worth.

My Faith: Being a Christian, I turned to God for help and I found out that Psalm 193:14 really aided me in struggling times, but after a while I started to overcome my insecurities with his help! I started to be honest with him about my insecurities and I started to realise that God has definitely made me the way he is for a reason.

So to end it here , I hope this motivated you to accept yourself for the way you are. This was a long one so thanks if you made it to the end 😂,

Thanks for reading and see you on my next post !

What I’m Leaving Behind In 2018

Hey Readers !

So I’m back with a new post today, and I just had to squeeze this in before the year ends, otherwise the title of this post would be completely pointless.

I’m sure if you’ve been on YouTube lately then you’ve seen the “Things We Need To Leave In 2018” videos piling up on your watchlist. For those of you who remain oblivious to it, it’s just a video of people’s gathered thoughts and opinions of what they believe shouldn’t be carried into 2019. You know, AirPods, bad frontal wigs, Fraud Bae… the list goes on and on and on.

But on some recent self-reflection, I decided to come up with my own version of things that I am not taking into 2019. Now these aren’t materialistic things like wigs or whatever, they are more characteristic and behavioural traits that I think should stay in the year of 2018. So here I present to you some things that I plan to leave here, and hopefully you can relate to these and follow me into it as well !

 

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1. Not sharing my blog enough.
So, I’ve realised that I’ve been holding myself back when exposing this blog. Truth of the matter is, to this day many people don’t realise I blog or that I own one. They may have seen it on my Instagram page that I post pictures and often use the popular phrase “Link In Bio” on almost every caption. However I still feel scared, yes scared, to share my blog. Currently I only share my blog on Instagram as I feel that other bloggers are around, so sharing my blog will be the norm, just how someone shares their hair page, or their music page. HOWEVER, when it comes to other apps such as SnapChat or simply through word of mouth, I never managed to accomplish the act of sharing my posts there. I guess because I know the people on my Snap, therefore I was scared of what they would think of me doing so, and a part of me doubted if they would even read my posts.

In this day and age where everyone is starting up their channels, and gaining follows on all social media apps, little me with a blog on the side must admit it can be hard to compete with others, but what I guess is my New Years revolution is to definitely share my post on all my social media platforms and to actually tell people about it. I mean, it’s not compulsory to read my posts, but if I can bless/inspire/motivate one person by my blog then I think I have achieved my purpose of the blog.

2. Comparing myself to others.
We have all heard the saying, “comparison is the thief of joy” and that is the harsh truth. I’ve realised this year that I have been comparing myself to other people’s success and gains, and that has had en effect on my self-esteem. Not only comparing my blog, but other things regarding education, self-development and also personal life goals. This is a big one for me in the upcoming year, as I have learned that everyone is walking their own paths and is going at their own pace, therefore if I cam slower or quicker than anyone in achieving something, it wouldn’t really matter, we are all chasing our goals individually!

3. Contradicting myself.
Another phrase you have all hear is definitely “PRACTISE WHAT YOU PREACH” and I can admit that hasn’t always been the case for me. Numerous amount of times, whenever I am writing a motivational post, I plan exactly what I am going to tell my readers, things they should cut out of their lives and things they should bring into their lives. But me being me, I fail to state my failures and my trials. Things like praying to God and reading the Bible, chasing your dreams, not letting anxiety get to you, The reality is even after I finish writing my posts, am I strict in doing so myself? I can’t come on here and talk about all the things that would solve a problem or situation for somebody reading, without incorporating these things myself. Everything is easier said than it is done, however I would be contradicting myself, or just simply being a hypocrite if I don’t practise the things that I preach on here- It simply gotta go in 2019 !

So to end here, I don’t see tis post as just a negative rant of myself, but rather an acknowledgment of my wrongdoings in the year. As I go ahead to change these things in my life for the new year, I also urge my readers to evaluate their own selves in preparation for the new year. So this is it for me in 2018, and I can’t wait to be back writing with you guys in 2019.

Have a lovely, prosperous and blessed new year !

It’s December: What are you waiting for ?

Hey Readers !

Funnily enough, I remember writing this post back in November, so initially this post was meant to be entitled ” It’s November: What are you waiting for?” but I thought to myself- Hmm, before I type another word, why don’t you apply this to yourself first before you start writing and directing people to make choices with their life you haven’t even done yourself ( slowly whispers “Efe you really tied it” to herself)

Background story over- the purpose of this post this week is exactly written in the title. We have successfully made it to December 2019. Now I know not all my readers are religious, but I would like to say personally that God has been very good. When you realise it, going out and making it back home safely is a blessing and that has occur for every day of the year, and God definitely deserves all the glory for that !

But at this time of the year, you see the various tweets, Instagram memes and our dear famous sister reappear on our various social media pages. I don’t know her name- but she looks like a Beatrice… So we are … going to call her Beatrice I guess…

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This time of year, we are always talking about the things we intend to do for the next year. Whether it is to start that new diet, or to start that new business plan, page or YouTube channel. Whether it is to start on a new project or to start saving towards that dream car of yours. It is always projected over into the new year. Yes of course, it is good to have visions and dreams for the new year, after all a new year presents that start for everyone. But really, what’s the harm of starting that new thing in December? after all we do have 31 days to start ahead, so why not just – start ?

My friend always used to say “life is too short”, and I’m sure we are all familiar with the phrase YOLO as well, and I certainly have applied that to my life. This very blog that you are reading this post on is a perfect example. I had been contemplating starting this blog for God knows how long and I was also adding all the worries of life on top of it- so it seemed as if this blog was never going to come into existence.

But I revisited the phrase, and simply thought- Life is really too short ! Not to scare you or anything- but our days here are numbered on earth, and wouldn’t you want to have a peace of mind that that thing that has been your long lasting passion was developed into a great idea ?

For a long time, I had suffered from what is known as the “what will people think of this” syndrome. I thought to myself, I can’t do this and expect people to actually pay attention to this, its pathetic. I do want to write a post about my initial thoughts about this blog- but that’s another topic for another day.

Let me not digress any further. The point is, I think we need to just start whatever is bugging us to do, and this doesn’t have to be massive things such as buying a house, because obviously it takes some time and preparation. But whether it is investing in that book, or starting your own website. Even calling that friend you have been planning on speaking to ever since September- NOW IS THE TIME.

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Don’t let December and this Christmas atmosphere deter you from getting head start on that dream you have been thinking of every day since the year started. Even if it’s a brief plan or blueprint of how it would plan out to be, there’s no harm on starting a bit early, to ensure that it all works out successfully.

Thanks for reading and Stay Blessed x