Six Female Professionals Share the Advice that Shaped Them #IWD

8 Mar

To paraphrase one of the greats – Poet Laureate Maya Angelou – ‘women are phenomenal’, and on this International Women’s Day I want to radiate positivity and lift anyone up who needs it right now.

I’m lucky to have a broad network of women that I tap in to for a number of things: career advice, emotional support, proof-reading, drinks, yoga-ing, holidaying and everything in-between. They cover all manner of industries, roles and even countries. So I thought I’d do you a solid this IWD and pass on the gift of advice and support that they’ve shared with me.

Here’s what six of the women from my knowledge network had to say when I asked them what advice has helped to shape who they are today.

Women

Photo: Paul Proshin

The Poet

“Hard work beats talent”

For a long time I thought of things as good or bad: ‘Is this poem good enough? Was that set amazing? Did I kill it with the audience?’ A lecturer once told me about a band that cut their record deal and instead built a subscription with their fan base (made up of around 2K followers). The fan base would pay an annual fee and as a result get an album from the band. The band could create what they wanted, and the fans got the music they wanted. How powerful is that? All they needed were 2K people in THE WORLD who liked what they did in order to create something meaningful.

There are plenty of people who watch movies I think are awful, dance to music I don’t understand, or like YouTube videos I find offensive, for me to know art is subjective. We all have different tastes so it’s not about questioning ‘is this good enough?’ It’s about gaining integrity being the kind of artist I want to be. Curating the audience I want to gather, collaborating with the people I want to work with and grafting hard to get them on board.

“Growth is struggle”

There’s something called the ‘conscious competence matrix’. The concept states that in order to learn and grow we need to have experienced struggle and ignorance. This really helped me see moments where I fail, struggle or feel crap rather as moments of revelation and epiphany, and that these moments are as essential and important as smashing it/winning/succeeding.

“Train Physically”

Yoga, swim, skate, dance. Connecting with your body enables you to be present, neurologically speaking, and when you’re present it’s impossible to feel things like anxiety (I learnt this from Ruby Wax’s talks on mindfulness). I’ve also found the journey of building physical strength and flexibility a parallel metaphor for me as an artist. To build strength you need to make small breaks in the muscle for it to grow back stronger, but not reach for a weight so heavy you rip the muscle. You also need to breathe and stretch to maintain flexibility in that muscle. As with my art, it hurts to push myself further to write about my trauma, to integrate dance with poetry, to write grime lyrics. But every break, every pain, every deep breath represents progress.

The Brand Strategy Consultant

“A life isn’t measured by what you have, but by what you give”

This is a quote I remember my mum saying, but I’m sure she must heard it from someone. It literally sums up my mum and I will always associate this with her. Her whole life she has been about providing for people, contributing to society, creating things. She is the most generous person I’ve ever come across.

“Done is better than perfect”

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) said this, and it took me so long to truly learn its meaning. For me it’s about letting go of pride, and understanding that sometimes perfectionism can often hold you back. I repeat this to myself about five times a day!

“Always be a little kinder than necessary”

I saw this in an Instagram post from a friend and it’s so true. Especially in these troubled times, the world needs more kindness.

“The early bird catches the worm”

I love this one. So often in life you’re winning, if you only get there early and think ahead!

The Teacher

“Unconditional love means accepting someone for who they are now, not who you hope they will be one day”

I came across this in a book I read called ‘The Wait’, it’s stuck with me because I’ve spent so much time trying to change someone Continue reading

7 Smart People Share The Best Advice They Ever Received

27 Dec

As humans we’re always craving for something or someone else to take over the decisional power when things get tough. We’re always seeking ‘signs’ to show us whether we’re about to make the right or wrong decision.

However, what I’ve come to find is that instead of looking outwardly, we should look inwardly at honing our own decision-making abilities. That’s what transforms us in to resilient and wiser beings (as my mum says: “Getting older is mostly making less of the same mistakes and Googling shit”).

yjl7ob3sspodeiphhzhd_dsc_1929_1

Pic: Anna Dziubinska

We all need a little guidance along the path though right? So in the fashion of The Little Pocket Book of Wisdom, I’ve curated bite sized advice from some smart humans I interviewed over the last few months. They’re all still figuring out the answers too, but here’s the input that’s helped them thus far:

1. The PR

“Treat your enemies as teachers, be grateful you have them in your life.” 

This is from one of the ultimate teachers, the Dalai Lama. I read this at the time I needed to hear it. The ‘being grateful’ part has to do with considering the alternative, just imagine how vulnerable and sensitive we would all be if we were never tested. It’s the mantra that’s helped me flip my thought process when confronted with unkind people.

“No one’s going to love you exactly like you imagined.”

Advice from a good friend who’s also a life coach. The message being, love yourself enough so that any other love just adds more candles to the cake you’ve already iced.

“There’s no secret ingredient, it’s just you.”

Perhaps the scariest thought of all, but also freeing once you take charge and realise that when you work hard, you get to where you want to be. I see this quote every week on the wall at my yoga class. It’s actually from the character Po in Kung Fu Panda!

2. The BuzzFeed Writer

“It’s never going to be the perfect time. Just do it and see what happens, you will spend your whole life waiting for the perfect time.”

Not sure exactly who said this, but it’s always stuck with me.

“Not all fingers are equal.”

From my mum. It’s African as fuck, but it basically means don’t compare yourself to others, like people are not equal, so don’t spend your time checking for what other people are doing. Continue reading

Life in E2 taught me I’m enough, and to keep icing the cake

10 Aug
The cake being my catalogue of reasons for self-love and the additional icing being love I allow in from others.
Shoreditch has been home for the last 18+ months, London’s hub of culture, art, fashion and food. You can buy errrrythang from fresh fruit and flowers to furniture, pastries and antique collectibles. Sometimes known to others as that filthy Eastend patch full of top-knot adorned dickheads…
For me, my experience of living here gave me three awesome things: 1. Lots of incredible nights I can’t remember, 2. Immunity to bullshit (although this may have been innate), and 3. A rebuilt sense of self-worth at a time when it was a little shaky – otherwise known as ‘early twenty-dom’.

Moving time shoreditch view from my room

Thought patterns I used to have before moving here:
  • What makes me happy?
  • Am I enough?
  • Am I desirable?
  • Is this as good as things are going to get?
  • I’m unhappy in my job
Thought patterns I had after having lived in Shoreditch for some time:
  • I like the way I dress
  • I’ve met and welcomed some incredible strangers in to my life, now my friends
  • I’m fun
  • I’m attractive
  • I have great friends
  • I work damn hard
Some questions I’m still figuring out the answers to:

Continue reading

People watching, summer in Shoreditch

26 Mar

London’s my favourite city in the world, this comes with no bias because I live here, it genuinely is. There’s a rumble and a roar about London when summer hits. You can hear the audible stampede of workers darting out the door to spend the maximum amount of time outside. Pretending just for the length of time it takes to guzzle a pint that life is carefree.

Summer in London’s also the best time to people watch, but if you don’t have the art down, you risk going from the peeper to the peep-ee. Lucky for me I was able to pap from my balcony on a ‘light jacket weather’ kind of day in Shoreditch 2015. Here are some of the more interesting scenes and people I captured…

Where’s your favourite people watching spot?

Borneo, Malaysia: Going it alone (kinda)

23 Nov

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2, Sunday 19 October, 2014. Oh god, this is a heavy backpack. Crane my neck up to check the board. Hugs and kisses goodbye to the family and boyfriend, and I’m off.

Heathrow Terminal 2

I’ll skip through the boring flight bits, lalala Dubai, zip, BOOM! 13hrs later, we land on the island of Borneo. Oh no wait, it was Singapore first. Right, yes, Singapore then Kuching, Borneo, BAM! I’ve landed.

Brain: “Fuck sake, there’s only a bloody Starbucks! My god it’s humid here.” *Eyes desperately scan around for a ‘Matang Wildlife Centre’ or ‘Project Orang-utan’ t-shirt*

Brain: “There she is!”

Natasha Beckerson, General Manager, Matang Wildlife Centre is there to meet me. I’m one of the last to arrive, we head to a lodge in central Kuching to meet the other 10 or so volunteers (who are also spending two weeks at the Matang Wildlife Centre) we share some drinks, get to know each other, then it’s off the next morning to the jungle (around 2,200 hectares of it.)

Skipping any other boring anecdotal observations, I’m cutting straight to my top five picks from my time there:

  1. ALL THE FOOD!
    I love soy, and in Borneo it’s a common ingredient in most dishes. There was this unrefined tofu dish that I forget the name of that basically changed my life. Also, what Borneans can do with plantain and breadcrumbs is magical. Just trust me on this one, it’s all delicious. Malaysian Borneo also reawakened my passion for coconut water, so now every time I find myself drinking that Vita Coco stuff, I’m instantly transported back to a Bornean beach with sand in my hair, laughing my lungs out, just intensely happy.
    SONY DSC

    SONY DSC

    Yes this is a real place. Damai Beach.

     

  2. The people
    A real mix of people were drawn to the volunteer experience at Matang: Americans, Canadians, Brits, Aussies, Germans, they were all bloody brilliant fellow journeymen.
    However, I really enjoyed meeting the locals, who were always extreme in everything they did; whether it was the abundance of knowledge they had to share about local plant life and indigenous animals (like orang-utan, sunbears, crocodiles, gibbons, frogs, snakes etc…) or in their insistence of sharing local rice whisky with you (many a good night was had.We’ll say no more.)

    SONY DSC

    Faye, Dom

    SONY DSC

    Richard, Emma

     

  3. Wildlife
    Matang Wildlife Centre near Kuching rescue orang-utans, macaques, sunbears and various other beasties. Most have come from the pet trade where people have surrendered them because they’ve become too big and dangerous to keep as pets. The staff here do the best they can with what they have. They make every effort to rehabilitate animals and give them a good quality of life. Major props to all who give up their time and salary to work here!
    SONY DSC

    SONY DSC

  4. Wellington boots
    A strange pick I’ll admit, but this was the last item you’d put on before you trudged off on a day’s work up the farm, mucking out animal cages or just general manual labour, and I loved every moment of it! OK, not the time I got a leech on my leg in the middle of the jungle, or that time I scraped the back of my leg with a scythe and thought I was going to develop septicaemia and die. But all those other times were immense!
    SONY DSC
    leech, borneo, matang, matang wildlife centre, kuching, lundu,
  5. Treks
    From night hikes spent discovering the wonders of phosphorescent moss, day hikes to waterfalls strong enough to blast your pants off (literally) and mountain journeys to fairy caves.

    Oh…and one final thing:
  6. Education
    I learnt more about animal cruelty-free tourism by actually taking a trip than any ‘share and vent’ Facebook article could tell me. Let’s just say, I won’t be riding any elephants, visiting tiger temples or holding wild animals any time soon. Oh and I’ll be doing my best to avoid buying products that contain unsustainable palm oil as best I can.

If you’re curious about other cultures, exotic animals and landscapes. Go to Borneo. Here’s a link to the oran-gutan project I went to if you’d like to read more about it.

Your special ‘talisman’ – feather hair comb

7 Oct

‘Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane in our own lives.’ William Dement

Everyone has a symbol, shape or smell that stirs something intrinsically personal to them. For some people it brings them power, for others it may be a nostalgic moment in time, a loved one or perhaps even a religious idol.

For me feathers signify peace, a pillar of my grandparents’ beliefs, and this Etsy sourced feather hair comb reminds me of them each time I wear it.

Gold Feather Hair Comb_Etsy_The River is Everywhere gold feather hair comb, etsy, hair comb, haircomb

What special talismans, symbols or smells mean more to you than they appear? Use the comment box below to share!

Three tips for surviving Christmas with your family

4 Jan

To be quite clear, this post does not come from a place of resentment but love. Anyone who knows me knows exactly how much I adore my family and friends. However, never more than at Christmas is the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ so pertinent. Whether it be hitting the cheese board a little too hard or spending an extended amount of time with your nearest and not so dearest.

Follow these three simple guidelines and all will be well…

Christmas, surviving christmas, family christmas, awkward photo, awkward family photo

1. The simple games are the best

When you open up a new board game and have a whole new set of rules to get accustomed to, it splits the family unit down the middle, and you find out very quickly which half each person falls in to. It separates those who are board game rule Nazi’s from those who couldn’t give two @$$*’s and just want to get on with the G%$ D*$% game.

Our favourite game to play at family gatherings is a variation of charades. All family members note down around 10-15 names of celebrities or well-known people on scraps of paper throw them in to a big bowl, pick small teams and commence ‘three round charades’. Teams get one minute each time and the bowl must be empty for you to move on to the next round. The most correct answers at the end of all three rounds wins the game.

Round one: You must describe the individual

Round two: You must silently act out the individual

Round three: You may just use one word to describe the individual

Super simple and loads of fun when everyone’s fuelled by a tonne of libations. I’m not going to promise that things won’t get ‘lively’ and someone won’t accidentally throw something or call their boyfriend an idiot (this has never happened) but it’s great fun.

2. You can NEVER have too much food and drink

Besides the fact that Christmas somehow turns off our natural ability to say no, to ANYTHING, regardless of matter how much you love your family and friends, when celebrating the festive season in the UK the inevitability of atrocious weather means that you’ll be confined to one room for an extended amount of time.
If it helps, visualise it as some kind of solitary confinement sentence or an awful disaster where you’re trapped in a lift with tinsel and flashing lights. Now wouldn’t you find it much more bearable plied with lashings of cheese* [*replace with your festive culinary vice] and alcohol? No! So stock up!

3. Foolishness must be unanimous

By foolishness, I’m talking ugly festive headwear (inclusive of headbands, deely boppers, santa hats and paper crowns) offensive jumpers and flashing earrings that at any other time of year would be considered an eyesore.

Make it known to any friends you invite along that your family enjoy, encourage and demand that all attendees must be willing to ‘ugly up’. Start as you mean to go on and set the tone for foolish behaviour, jokes and music.

You’re welcome! Please remember these three key things next time Christmas is fast approaching in order to enjoy quality time with your loved ones to the maximum.

Got any family rituals or essential components that make the festive season all the more bearable for you? Add your own contribution to the comment box below and help others in a time of need…