Surrender the Schedule

If you’re anything like me, your life is used to being surrounded by routines and schedules. You may be a busy university student, like myself, maybe you run a solo business, or perhaps you just have lots to do each day. For us who are spending our days at home during the pandemic without a 9-5 job, or a family to care of yet, it may seem as if we have plenty of hours spare in a day, but we’re not getting much done. I’m one of those people.

My university course has only 4 contact hours a week, everything else consists of independent studies or pre-recorded lectures. This sounds like a dream to absolutely anyone I tell because all of the free time I have around that. The fact is, after spending x amounts of years in compulsory education, with a monotonous, rigid structure to my life, suddenly having all of this free time has left me unsure how I should spend it.

I’ve adapted a hack that any student (or people with this sort of lifestyle) can apply to their lives for them to get way more out of the day, week, month and year. But it starts with surrender the minute by minute schedules. Maybe these work for you. If they do, you can ignore this. But this is for those who are perhaps looking for an alternate method to plan out their day. It’s very simple.

List the things that you know you have to dedicate time to everyday – I prefer to write them but you can mentally list them if you can. That can be anything, from studying to self-care to developing your online business to exercise. List the things, all of them. Then, instead of committing to doing things in a certain order every single day, SWITCH IT UP. And choose each day (as you go along) what you want to do first, second, third and so on.

Some days you wake up and the last thing you want to do is a HIIT workout but because it’s first on your schedule, you end up beating yourself up if you don’t get it done one day. I may be stating the obvious here, and this may be the most basic way to plan out your day, but as a person who stresses about sticking to schedules and then gets bored when I have one, this method works perfectly for me. And maybe it will for you.

Stay Safe,

Love Always,

Shadz xo

We made it!

Happy New Year friends!!!! Last year was tough, I think we all can agree on that. Some may say that it was the worst year of their lifetime. Who would have though that it would be illegal to meet up with friends, hug people or to have people around your house. But before you write off the year 2020, remember this, if you’re reading this right now, you survived it, even if that’s all you did. You may not have reached your fitness goals. you weight goals, your financial goals or your educational goals but you’re here and I’m happy that you are.

I’m not even going to begin to bother set any particular new years resolutions, not out of demotivation, but I want to save myself the pressure. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing so. After the year we’ve all had, I think I can wait a few months before I start setting myself harsh targets. 2020 has affected every single person on this earth in some way shape or form, and for the first time in my lifetime, a year long ‘thing’ has happened that has impacted every life on this earth. That’s something we can tell our children and grandchildren in the future! But if I just set myself ONE new years resolution, it would be this, to not be so hard on myself.

I look forward to hopefully being able to see my love ones more this year, to new beginnings, to new eye opening experiences, to meeting new people, going new places and learning new things.

I thank God for bringing me through 2020. Stay safe my friends!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Netflix Review: Emily in Paris Season 1 (spoiler alerts)

I just finished watching Season 1 of Emily in Paris literally 5 minutes ago and I had a sudden urge to write a blog about it. Have any of you guys watched it? What did you think? This isn’t my normal motivational, deep, societal issue awareness kind of blog but I’ve been wanting to spice up my content and make it a little more casual for a while now. So here we go.

I think it started off quite slow, although it was only 10 episodes it took me and my other half a couple of episodes to actually get into it but once it gained momentum, we were hooked. Did anyone else feel really sorry for Emily at first? She moved to a foreign city to work last minute, was bullied by everyone, had pretty much no friends and no idea how Parisian culture worked. And suddenly she becomes the other woman in this extremely toxic cheating affair whilst pretending to be the cheated on woman’s best friend! I felt so sorry for Camille, the poor girl didn’t deserve it at all. My favourite characters had to be Luc and Julien. Oh my days they were so funny! They added so much character to the show especially in the office scenes, they were my favourites from the start.

Me and Bart screameddddd at the ending. We thought it was so ironic that after everything Gabriel had done, he had the AUDACITY to stay in Paris with none other than Antoine’s help… THE NERVE of these men. We were literally screaming “nahhhhhhh” down the phone over FaceTime (covid sucks) because of that.

I mean we understood the whole idea of the mysterious desire that Gabriel and Antoine had for Emily and Sylvie respectively, and I guess the novelty of trying something new but they had perfectly gorgeous, hardworking, respectable woman already who were literally the nicest, kindest, my pure-hearted people. We literally couldn’t stand either of their characters one bit. I guess Emily and Sylvie had more in common than they gave off.

Overall, I’m not disappointed at all and literally can’t wait until season two. Especially after that cliff-hanger! But what’s a series without a cliff-hanger? Would totally recommend it to anyone who’s into light hearted, slightly chick-flicky, American-French series!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Locked in…..Again

Did anyone else get really down when they first heard about this second lockdown? I definitely did! The first one was a novelty to everyone, something we had never seen or heard of before and with the help of Instagram memes and TikTok, we got through it. But at this point, it’s just boring. Who knew it would be November and things would still be the way that they are? I’m so grateful that I am a uni student and I am still allowed to attend seminars in person (socially distanced though) and in some way still have a sense of normality to life. But socially, things are extremely dull. For people who don’t even have the relief of going to school/university or work during this time I can’t even begin to understands what it feels like. But all is not lost, lockdown won’t last forever. You got through the first, you will get through the second.

Don’t be to hard on yourself to achieve your absolute best during this time. Everyone is struggling with something and everyone’s situations and feelings are valid. No day that you get through is a wasted day. It’s okay to sit and chill watching Netflix somedays. Productivity is not necessary 24/7. Look after your mental health, go for walks or runs, talk to family and friends, eat well, get enough sleep. Perhaps this is a great time to focus on you and your wellbeing?

And if you are a student at this point in time, the same applies. There’s no doubt that things will be different regarding how your days may be structured or how your courses/lessons are delivered and it’s okay to feel disorganised sometimes. I sometimes feel as if I’ve had no idea what’s been going on since I started again in September. But remember you are capable. You are where you are for a reason and you are capable to getting to the place that you want to be.

My heart and prayers go out to all those who are grieving at this time, those who are struggling to get by and those who are finding it hard to cope. You are strong, keep holding on, the sun will rise again.

Stay safe my friends.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Walking my way out

In my first year of university I hated, as in despised speaking out loud in lectures and seminars. Compared to the other people on my course, I felt like I had nothing valuable to add to debates and discussions, so I let that lie get to my head and it stopped me from speaking out when I sometimes did have ideas, whether or not they were relevant or useful. These lies followed me into other aspects of university such as my social life and fitness aspects. I didn’t feel like I belonged in certain places for reasons that were really irrational and didn’t actually exist.

I’ve walked into this year feeling more confident, more determined and more willing to shut those lies up and walk on out of my mindset of overthinking everything I do. And it’s working. I’m not afraid to speak out in seminar discussions, I’ve joined the gym despite fearing judgement from more experienced gym goers, I’ve been feeling so comfortable when out at social events with friends (the ones covid allows). The thing that keeps repeating in my head every single day is this; “you deserve to be there just as much as anybody else” and for me, that pretty much changed everything.

Every single day I’m become more self-aware, more confident and I’m on my way to becoming a better version of myself. Don’t let fear or comparison to others stop you from doing anything. I know it’s daunting and sometimes impossible to always think positively about yourself, believe me, I struggle too, but the moment you start believing for yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to, you will do it.

And don’t worry if you don’t always have it together. If you had a peak into my life you’d see that 85% of the time I haven’t got a clue about what I’m doing – and I quite like being organised. We’re all winging it, we’re all finding our way out of the things that once held us back and we’re all on our way to a better tomorrow. Set your goals and smash them!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Mental Health Matters

I went back to uni this week and it was probably the most stressful week of my year so far. Even more stressful than last terms exams. Although not that much happened, my mind has been filled with fear, panic and anxiety all week. It’s been my first time going back into uni in person since living under the safety net of my parents roof for the last 6 months. There’s something about hiding behind your laptop screen in your bedroom that you can’t quite get when sitting face to to face with lecturers that hold doctoral degrees in English Literature.

I tried to exercise, I’ve been eating and sleeping okay but mentally, it’s been on of the hardest weeks. I haven’t lost all hope though. I’m going to walk into this week with determination to smash all of my targets and to focus on my mental health. It gets better and the storms do pass.

I’m so sorry for the lack of content or formality with this blog, I can’t seem to put anything into words, but hopefully you understand and take something from this.

You’re amazing, never give up!

Love always,

Shadz xo

Let’s get real about: Body Image

It’s been a while since I’ve written – well I’ve written of course, but I haven’t posted anything for way too long. Between packing up the entire contents of my life in London and locating it to Surrey, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting myself together for the next academic year – Year 2.

I’ll obviously document my journey as I go along but I logged on today to talk about something that has been affecting me for a while. Body image. Something that is spoken about A LOT but with so many different points of view it’s sometimes difficult to know where you stand in it all. So I’m going to talk about my own body image, subjectively, because we’re all different, but maybe you can get something from this.

I know that my body is strong and beautiful. Sometimes I have a hard time accepting it, but I know the facts. As a young woman who has undergone A LOT of body changes in the past few years, it becomes hard to understand how the body I had when I was 15 years old has been completely transformed into something that I don’t recognise. It’s a normal part of growing up, your body changes to meet different needs that you may have not needed when you were younger. Believe it or not most of my body confidence issues came after I finished puberty. Besides having acne and being incredibly tall in lower secondary school, I wasn’t constantly obsessed over the way my body looked like I am now.

Despite visiting a doctor and being told that I’m perfectly healthy, I can’t help that I sometimes over-analyse every minor change that happens to my body and let it ruin my day. Example: The other day I bought some new jeans from a shop that I have never bought from before. I bought my regular size that I usually wear in EVERY OTHER SHOP and guess what? Yep, they didn’t fit. So I got so worked up about it, started thinking I was too big and that I had gained weight from the last time I wore jeans, which was like 2 days before. I didn’t even consider the fact that since I had never bought jeans from that shop before, they may have sized the clothes differently which is why they didn’t fit me.

After I accepted this, I returned the jeans and got another size and it was all fine. I know it sounds superficial, there is way more important things in this world than a pair of jeans but it’s things like this that can spiral out of control and create havoc in someone’s mind. We all go through body image issues at some point in our lives. The end goal isn’t having a perfect body, because that doesn’t exist in real life, what is perfect? But we’re aiming for acceptance, acceptance of ourselves, accepting what we may need to change, accepting what we can’t change and accepting what will change inevitably.

You’re all beautiful!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Quarantine Update: What’s Next?

What’s lockdown looking like for you at the moment? Have you got back into swing of a normal life or are you still feeling really cautious?

I’m sort of in the middle. Of course I’m still cautious and careful but yet I am thankful that I have been able to get back to normal living in some ways. The start of quarantine started off very slow. Family walks, endless Netflix, university assignments, blogging and filming at every possible chance. Things are looking a bit different now. I’ve been to see friends, I’ve completed the majority of my driving lessons, I’ve finished first year and passed with a 2.i!

During lockdown, one on the things I had time to give a lot of time and attention to was my relationship with God. After the ups and downs of first year, I felt very distant from God. Delving deep into His word, spending time in prayer, finding guidance in older mentors and sharing struggles with my Christian friends that a lot of young adults can relate to has really given me the push in my Christian life that I need. When a lot of people prophesied “2020” vision, I didn’t think this was what was meant, but now I understand. My eyes have been opened.

I am relatively excited about moving into a house next year. There will be challenges, I am sure of it, but I am confident that I will overcome them because of my reignited faith and not be overcome by them. I believe the next year will fly pass and I am excited to get stuck into some new books on my course as well as some personal reads.

In terms of my blog, expect to see posts, same with my videos, maybe not so frequent as you’ve been used to, as I would prefer to take my time to write genuine, honest blogs and create videos that will actually have some lasting impact.

Overall, I’m doing well, I can’t complain and I hope you all are making the most of your time right now!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Managing money as a university student

Are you good at handling money? Do you know when to spend and when to just…. you know…. not spend? Since becoming a university I’ve had to learn how to handle my money more. I have a part-time job since I was about 16, so I started to pay my own phone contract, buy my own bits and pieces and save since then. But it didn’t compare to the financial independence that I experienced in uni. Obviously everyone is in a different position, some have their lifestyle paid for by their parents, some work extra jobs and run businesses to earn a bit of extra money, and some are just naturally better off because they have stacks of savings from the years leading up to uni. However, most uni students are on some form of budget. Here I’m going to give you a few tips of how you can make your money stretch throughout uni – take it or leave it.

LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS – You know what this means, right? Maybe at home you were accustomed to a certain lifestyle that you just can’t afford anymore on a student budget. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having less expensive things. Maybe the things that made you feel fancy or boujee in the past have to be replaced until you are no longer on the same kind of budget. I know this can be hard for some people, but easier and more convenient for others and either is okay. Change is okay.

PRIORITIES – My priorities go like so: rent, essential shopping, direct debits, everything else. Yours may be the same, or different. What you don’t want to do is blow a ton of cash on a great night out, a new pair of Air Forces or a fancy meal and then have absolutely nothing left for milk and bread the next day. That’s not to say don’t do and have these nice things, but just make sure money for the essential things is put to the side. Maybe this doesn’t bother you, maybe you don’t mind living of 30p for a week but if it does, I suggest you make some form of priority list.

STUDENT DISCOUNTS – You’ve heard of Student Beans, UNIDAYS, TOTUM right? – Use them like your life depends on it. Thank me later.

LEARN TO SAY NO – You might have F.O.M.O or maybe you have J.O.M.O. One thing that I have found to be important in university is to be okay with saying no thank you. Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to everything people invite you to, especially if you really don’t want to go. Personally for me, I have no issue with staying cosy in my room watching a film or staying up chatting with flatmates instead of going out and spending money that I don’t have. I do love to go out and socialise, do new fun things and meet new people, don’t get me wrong, but I’m also okay with not doing that all the time. If you have the funds and the want to do it, go ahead, but if you really don’t fancy something one day, no real friends will think bad of you for hanging back. Just make sure you’re prepared for some of the negative reactions you may get for saying no.

SAVE – This one might be tough for those who are on a realllyyyy tight budget. But even if it’s £5 a week, even if it’s £2.50 a week, it all adds up eventually.

BUDGET! BUDGET! BUDGET! – Whether you get one of those fancy finance books, an app or a scrap piece of paper, lay out your budget as often as your student loan, money from parents or wages come in. I tend to budget out my rent, direct debits for the month, and other essential expenses as soon as my money comes in. An d then I can see what I’m working with.

PART-TIME JOB – You may not want to have a part-time job, especially if you have a packed schedule from a demanding degree such as medicine, vet-med or engineering. However, for those with less demanding, more independent learning degrees a part-time job is a great way to earn a bit of extra cash. Try not to take on too many hours though and remember your studies come first.

Hope this helps!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Complacent Christian – Part 3 – To this day

Fast forward many years and many ups and downs that I will cover another time, we get to the present day. I am very much walking with Christ. Sometimes I’m vigorously sprinting, sometimes I’m reluctantly crawling. Sometimes I’m so hungry for the Word of God, sometimes I’m merely peckish, sometimes I feel like I am full. This is what this three part blog series is actually about. Feeling full. The truth is I can never be too full with God. When God is in it, there is no limit – ever. That’s even for those who know the Bible back to front and can quote scripture faster than I can quote Drake lyrics. I’m definitely nowhere even near to being that kind of person in my journey with Christ yet. I’ve fallen into laziness, relying on the fact that I have years of church experience and years of being in a church environment to get me through this Christian life. And it is not enough.

Here I speak with complete honesty. I have met someone who is an example of being absolutely hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. Someone who has not had the same positive life and church experiences as me. I love this person very much. I can honestly say that in the beginning, when I started sharing my journey to faith with him, and he shared his journey to faith with me, I thought it was me that had the passion and hunger for Christ all the time. Plot twist, it most certainly wasn’t!!!!

God has humbled me so much and allowed me to realise that me intensely studying the Bible, praying, fasting and living according to grace and the Word of God in one breath whilst relying on my upbringing and prior experience in another breath, when I perhaps feel down and deflated spiritually is not enough. This is not the way I’m suppose to live! Maybe this is perhaps where I fall into temptation?

I want to understand Christ more, I want to live in the truth of the gospel day by day, to glorify His Name and to live a life according the purpose that He has given to me, but the battle between spirit and flesh is ongoing and rather intense. This is not an excuse, but a reality. Fellow Christians, can you relate? Of course you can. This battle is written about in the Bible so many times – read Paul’s letters in the New Testament, it is a battle that is not and will not be hidden from us because it is so real to our very existence. But Christians are also called not to be of the flesh, but of the Spirit. In fact, we are told that we are not of the flesh, but of the Spirit (Romans 8:9). This indicates to me that is a choice, a choice that I will live to make everyday of my life, everyday of my life. I refuse to define myself as being a complacent Christian as I seek everyday to be more like Jesus.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Complacent Christian – Part 2 – Back to Christ

Growing up as a teen was difficult. I won’t lie, I can’t lie but during a lot of secondary school I didn’t connect with God, I was too concerned with friends – who weren’t actually friends, cute boys *eye roll*, my appearance, popularity, gossip and all the other things teen me indulged in. I used to be the kind of person to mumble something that mildly resembled a prayer before I went to bed each night, as some sort of recognition of God’s presence but during the day, it was all about me. I thought all the excitement of school and teenage life would be all I needed to live a cosy life. I’d keep going to church on side, because mum and dad wouldn’t just leave us home alone every Sunday, but I wasn’t really exercising my faith. My Bible had collected more dust particles than an old doll in an antique shop and I was pretty sure my prayers were as genuine as some reality TV shows I watched. I watched the relationship I had with God crumble right before my eyes, because I was too concerned with what everyone on the outside thought of me. I became so distant with my parents and my older brother because of my selfishness, my self-absorption and outright denial of having an issue in the first place. By the grace of God alone have those relationships now been fully restored to above and beyond what I could have imagined.

Around about the age of 14, I experienced the lowest point in my life so far. Call it a teenage meltdown, hormones, teen anxiety or whatever you like, I was low, and I was very unhappy. I’m not going to go into details about it, maybe another day, in another blog, but just know, I was in a very dark place. I didn’t call out to God in this time, I didn’t think He was there, and if He was, that He would be interested or that He could change my situation. I looked for healing in people and their approval, which could have never in a million years fill the void that was in the middle of my being. I went to a church festival at the age of 15 with the church my family had recently relocated to. It was not long after I had the complete breakdown, I think it may have been 2 or 3 days after it, but I went anyways, feeling broken and completely helpless.

I’m confident in the fact that I did not leave that place in the state that I had come. I felt the Spirit of God moving in me, literally, I didn’t know what it was then, but looking back in hindsight, I can confirm it was God. I was led to speak to this lady, to this day I cannot remember her name, but she led me into a prayer that allowed me to allow God in to change my life. I remember I was shaking heavily, I had never asked for prayer over my situation, I hardly spoke about it in full with anyone to be completely honest. Apparently I didn’t need to tell her everything either. She asked me straight away whether I had anxiety and whether I wanted prayer. I told her yes and yes please. So she prayed and I responded. From that moment, I stopped shaking and felt this inner peace that I only remember feeling at the age of seven when I came to Christ and was baptised. I felt like a child again, His child again.

I went back to school a different person, a new creation as the apostle Paul refers to it in 2 Corinthians 5:17. People noticed the change in me, some rejoiced with me, some weren’t too keen on it, which did discourage me and some were open to understanding why and how everything had happened. I had highs and lows throughout my journey as a re-committed Christian, lots of highs and lows. I still don’t always make the right choices – I have often made very wrong ones, to say the least. But I can honestly say that since that day, I never felt completely separated from God like I once had.

Part 3 is out now!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Complacent Christian: Part 1 – Growing up “Christian”

These two words shouldn’t really co-exist. A Christian really shouldn’t be complacent. However, I can be very complacent….. and I’m a Christian. I grew up in the church, different church assemblies, but I was always in church. I know that doesn’t equate to me being a Christian. It doesn’t matter if I spent every spare minute I had in church. Standing in a church doesn’t equate to my salvation, nor does spending time in church equate to me actually being the person that God has called me. The fact that I was brought up in church does, however, add to the reason why I, personally, have become quite complacent. Here’s why:

Being in the church environment literally from my first days even breathing independently from my mother meant that I was always surrounded by the Word of God. As in always. My parents are both committed Christians with incredible testimonies of their own. Without a doubt this became the foundation for my understanding of the Bible and of God himself. Thankfully, being a Christian was never forced on me, or my three siblings. In contrary to many claims about kids raised in church being “brainwashed”, I can wholeheartedly confirm, that we were not! We were always taught that we were to make our own decisions regarding our faith as in the end it was going to be our choice. Believe me, we all have our own personal journeys and all four of us has made both a personal declaration and public declaration (through baptism) of our faith in Jesus.

I chose, as in actually chose to be baptised at the age of seven. Yes, I was young, I’ve been told that so many times, but I vividly remember when I first believed in God. I asked my parents if I could get baptised, assuming they’d say no, because I was young and inexperienced (my older brother was actually younger than me when he chose to get baptised!), but they didn’t say no. Instead they ensured that I knew what I was declaring and understood my personal reason for becoming a Christian. I was a bright kid, some would say I was years above my age, so I could honestly say I was ready.

Part 2 is published now – didn’t want to make the blog too long!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Strong Black Woman

This one may be less informative, less powerful, less valuable to you, and to the cause. But this is what is on my heart. And this is what I want to share.

I cannot speak for the whole of the black community but I can speak for myself. I am a black woman, and like many other black women (and men too), I have endured both overt and covert racism. I won’t get into every single incident, it’s painful to repeat, we’ll be here all day, and I don’t think I need to relive it all to make a point on my blog. It happened, to a lot of us, full stop.

It’s not something that’s “over there”, far away, unreachable to you. It’s something very real to the people around you in this world, and to the person who is writing this. I’m not an “aNgRy BLack wOmAN”, I’m hurting, I’m hurting for the black community. Every time I think about it, I want to cry, but I can’t, because we (black women) are told to hold our head up high, and not let things bother us. I’m meant to be a “strong black woman”.

We don’t have to fake it. I don’t have to fake it. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be angry and it’s okay to acknowledge the pain that you feel. Did you know that the current Black Lives Matter movement is the largest civil rights movement in the history of forever?! It’s okay if this is the first time you’ve sat and actually allowed yourself to feel anything in forever. Everything you’re feeling is valid, whether that be pain from trauma you have been through or empathy for those who have experienced it.

Let’s continue to work together, support each other and keep pushing forward.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Introducing Black

Black is not a personality type.

Black is not a music genre.

Black is not food.

Black is not a shooting target.

Black is not a threat.

Black is not an enemy.

Black is just like you.

Black is beautiful.

Black is capable.

Black wants to achieve.

Black wants to flourish.

Black want to live.

Black Lives Matter.

You’ve posted a black square…. now what?

Tuesday 2nd June saw thousands of Instagram users posting a black square. Thousands of people standing up for Black Lives Matter, refraining from posting personal pictures, videos and stories, hashtags reading “#blackouttuesday” and “#theshowmustbepaused”. If you didn’t have a feed filled with loads of black squares, I’m convinced you’re living under a rock!

Although this was a powerful gesture, it is still not enough. You can’t just post a black square and say “yep my jobs done”, because it’s not. The fight for black rights must go beyond a singular day of posting a black square and a few quotes on your story. It has to be something you live out every single day.

I am flooded with joy when I see the amount of people supporting the movement, big companies and businesses, churches, schools, individuals all coming together to fight for equality.

Don’t be a person who posts something to jump on the trend – this movement is not a tiktok dance challenge, it’s people’s lives. Don’t remain silent when it’s time for you to speak up.

Keep posting, keep spreading awareness, keep defending, keep moving forward!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

For the next generation

I’m sure most of you have seen the news recently with the racial injustice that is happening in this world that we all live in. If you haven’t, and have somehow managed to miss it, I suggest you remove your blindfold, get on the internet and do a bit of research on it.

Although we may have progressed from the time of slavery and forced segregation, it is so obvious that the fundamental ideologies of certain individuals have not changed. This is causing the loss of lives. It is no longer enough to say “I have black friends” or to say “I’m not a racist”. Don’t get me wrong, I believe them, I believe that a lot of this generation are not racist, and that’s great, but we need to raise an anti-racist generation. People who will be proactive in speaking out and rebuking racial injustice rather than sitting and allowing it to happen because “it doesn’t affect them”. This goes for all races, not just white people, not just black people, this is not a black versus white issue, this is a social issue and we are all a part of society.

It hurts me to see that things like this happen and as a result, black people get labelled as being “angry” or just having “a chip on their shoulder” for protesting against it. No, it’s not just anger, it’s not just a cold heart, it’s living with the knowledge that this blatant brutality against black men could be against a brother, a cousin, a father, an uncle, a fellow black friend, our future children. If we don’t care enough to sort this out for ourselves, at least let’s sort it out for our children, and their children, and their children. We should not be fighting the same battles as the generation before us, nor should our babies be fighting the battles that were meant to be ours.

I’m not saying that we should use violence against anybody in a form of protest, we can’t fight hate with hate, or else it just becomes an endless cycle. I’m not even saying we all need to participate in mass marches or protests – I understand that that’s not everyone’s calling, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s just speaking out and saying “no, that’s not okay” instead of remaining silent to avoid confrontation. Sometimes it’s challenging your family members and friends when they say something stereotypical. Sometimes it’s standing up for the stranger on the street when they are too tired to stand up for themselves. Use your position in life to make a difference!! Whether that be one that has been subject to racism or one who has been of privilege, whether you have a huge platform to speak on or simply just your mouth – use it. When EVERYONE as a society begin to work together to break down the walls of racism, bit by bit, then, and only then will we see the change that our great-grandparents, grandparents and our parents have been striving to see.

I’ll leave you with this. The apostle Peter says in the New Testament,

“Above ALL things, be EARNEST in your LOVE among yourselves, for LOVE covers a MULTITUDE of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8.

This truth remains today & forevermore.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Late Night Shenanigans: When you’re not the best at the party.

I’ve been thinking recently about the things that I am grateful for. The list is vast, but sometimes I pause to give God thanks for the beautiful and amazing things that I have been blessed with, it always seems as if my mind wanders into dangerous territories. I start dwelling on the things that haven’t made me happy, the people who have said things to hurt me and the awful things that I’ve seen, heard and experienced. Suddenly my intention of acknowledging the many great things in life turns into an internal rant about the challenges I face. Anyone relate?!

Whether or not you look the best at the party, whether or not you aced a first or an A in your assessment, whether or not you have the latest, most fashionable clothing doesn’t compare to the things that actually matter. Sometimes I go to parties and feel like the most unattractive person in the room regardless of what anyone says – it happens sometimes. But when I compare that to the wonderful gift of family that I have, my hairstyle and makeup failure at one singular party doesn’t matter anymore. There have been times where I’ve felt like the outsider within friendship groups, but when I think about the people who feel they can lean on me when things are going downhill in their life, whether or not they post memories of me on their story becomes so very small.

Don’t let the little things (that without a doubt seem big at the time) get in the way of all the incredible things you have to be thankful for. Show gratitude always, keep your head up and don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Stop putting them on trial!

In the last few weeks or so I’ve seen so many posts on Instagram and Twitter that say something along the lines of:

“If you haven’t bothered to check up me during this pandemic, I don’t class you as a friend”.

Or something of a similar flavour. Have seen them too? Gratefully all of these posts have been met with backlash which explains that at this time, EVERYONE is struggling and it is quite selfish to cast friends aside only because they haven’t put you above whatever they have going on. Times are tough, and it’s probably a nicer gesture for you to go out of your way to see if someone is okay rather than expecting it from them.

These posts has led me into thinking deeper about what true and honest friendship is. I’ve realised a lot of this generation are constantly putting people on trial. Their friends, their significant others and even their families. Always checking people’s behaviour to make sure that it always works out to be in their favour. I’m not saying to let people treat you like rubbish and walk all over you, of course not. But I feel like we should really examine ourselves, our patience and our tolerance with the people we love and who love us before criticising them for not treating you in a way that benefits you or for not acting the way you want them to act. Should we show more love and attention to the people we care about? Absolutely! Should we be putting our friends on trial and threaten to end the friendship if they don’t check up on us as much? No way! Pride and self-absorption is a killer to relationships, so aim to give more than you wish to receive.

Check up on a loved one that you haven’t heard from for a while today, believe me, you’ll feel better for it.

Stay safe!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Late Night Shenanigans: Rated Cringe Worthy

I’m not entirely sure who this is aimed at or why I am writing it but here it goes. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

I’ve finally found a platform that I can share what I love doing with other people. A lot of people who have known me on a surface level in real life, such as peers and acquaintances, probably see me as the girl who gets decent enough grades and is friendly to people without actually knowing too much about me. There is so much more to me and my life than my grades and my people’s persona. I have a story – a short one – but still a story, I have a life outside of education contrary to popular belief (shock horror), experiences, both good and bad, my own opinion, beliefs – strong ones and I finally have a medium to share it on.

This may come as a shock to people who know me properly but I feel like I have spent my life living in the lie of the perception that I think others have of me. Let me break it down. Anything that anyone has said to me, whether good or bad has formed the way I perceive myself. It’s been that way from ever since I could remember. From primary school when I used to be called “goody-two shoes” to secondary school when I would be called “not black enough” to sixth form where I’d simply just be called “different to the rest”. Now, the goody-two shoes thing was true, mostly in year six when I suddenly became quite shy and introverted for reasons I honestly cannot remember. I definitely lost the goody-two shoes label over the years though, not that I’m complaining. The “not black enough” label has sort have stuck in my conscience but I’m old enough now to know it’s absolute nonsense. But during secondary school it consumed me. My post titled “melanin” explains a bit more what I mean by that – so definitely check it out! What matters now is I know that my race is my race and I will never let anyone, including myself define me based solely on the colour of my skin. I’ve learnt to be me, simply because I’m me. But it still gets me down sometimes. I don’t want to be confined to the racial stereotypes that modern society has created – I wasn’t made to be put into a box. At the same time I want to embrace my race, my roots, my heritage freely and encourage others to do the same. It’s something that I’m honestly still figuring out.

The whole “different from the rest” perception is the honest reason why I’m up writing so late. I have always known I was a bit different. Not in a cool edgy, American teen rebel movie sort of way, not even in being extremely good at something or creating something incredible. I was just different. I felt distant from most of my peers in every stage of school life. As if they were experiencing a different world to them, that’s how it felt like. I wasn’t heavily restricted from doing anything, my parents were protective but I had freedom, maybe more than a lot of my peers did. But I never felt like I was in the group, nor did I feel particularly left out, but rather on the circumference of the circle (#GCSE maths). I spoke to everyone, got along with mostly everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I had great friends, no one purposefully or intentionally did anything to me but I felt this way pretty much all the time. I wasn’t happy being me because I felt people would judge the real me. I felt so pressured to conform to a standard that no one even expected of me while they were simply busy just being themselves. I put myself on the outside, I discluded myself because of fear of not being loved no matter how many compliments people showered me with. And even if I felt I wasn’t loved by the crowds I often ignored and disregarded my first love, Jesus.

I put the views and opinions of others above God’s view of me. And that is without a doubt what kept me in that dark place. If I had dwelled on my identity in Christ than on my identity in the eyes of the world my teenage years would have been different. I’ve obviously finished beating myself up about it now, and I know I have been forgiven for that 100 times over but sometimes I do look back and think what if. What if I spent my time resting in his presence than I did resting in other people’s satisfaction. What if I listened to His voice rather than the world’s voice. What if I spent my time in worship rather than drowning in sorrow. But then I remember, if it wasn’t for my mistake, I couldn’t be sitting here right now, writing this for you guys to read. I know everything I write and say won’t be relatable to everyone. After all, this is my story, not a projection of the whole world’s story. You may not believe what I believe or you may not be passionate about what I’m passionate about. But if I could ease the stress off of one area of one person’s life then I would write this blog one thousand times over (do you get the reason for my title yet?). You have to forgive me though, ahaha, it’s 3:38am on a Saturday and I am quite possibly in need of my bed right about now. So I’m going to wrap this up here with this:

I think I’m finally fine with being a bit different 🙂

Sweet Dreams and Love Always,

Shadz xo

Quarantine Talks: Reading, Writing and Watching Netflix

How have you been spending your lockdown? It’s become the new norm for me, I sometimes even forget I’m in lockdown until I get the daily news bullentine on the BBC News app. I’ve had a lot of astonishingly productive days so far where I’ve met personal targets and deadlines. And I wouldnt’ say I’ve completely gone mad (maybe a little) but I’ve honestly had days where I haven’t even wanted to get out of bed or do anything remotely productive. One of things that I was certain about when creating this blog is that I was going to be completely and utterly honest with my readers.

As you probably already know, I am far form perfect. I don’t have my whole entire life sorted. I don’t have all the answers to what I want to do in the future. I just don’t have it all together. Seeing as all the priorities that I have at the moment are inside jobs i.e. this blog, video making, attending online lectures and writing essay, lockdown hasn’t actually restricted my life as much as it has other people. But I’m not getting as much done as I thought I would.

I would say I’m a very driven and ambitious person – on one side. I have things that I want to do, improve in and complete. The other side of me is sluggish, demotivated and often too nervous to push the boat out just that little bit further. I’ve started making videos on my Instagram, but as soon as I post them I start worrying who will see them and what they will think. Will they think I’m boring, too serious? Or maybe over excitable and not sophisticated enough. Not so long ago this would have stopped me completely from posting anything! Including things on my PRIVATE snapchat story. Anxiety about what other people might think has been my biggest struggle throughout my whole life. It starts off as a little tickly feeling in my mind and suddenly it overcomes me like a big dark cloud. I’ve worked on it over the years especially in the weeks leading up into university and I am still working on it.

What I’m trying to get at is I’m not exactly where I want to be in most aspects of my life – in my creative passion, in my confidence, in my fitness, in my relationships, in my finances or in my mental wellbeing – but I am certainly not where I used to be. Reaching the end goal or target doesn’t matter as much as the progress or the journey. At the start of quarentine I had started none of my full-term essays written, I was slacking on instagram and blog posts and I hadn’t even made a video yet. Now, I have consistently been writing blogs, I’ve produced two mediocre videos and worked on all of my full-term essays, with one completely finished. It’s not a lot for 7 or 8 weeks of lockdown, but it’s something. I’m learning to trust that God is the one who hold the plans for my future. All I can do is rest in His strength and follow where He leads me to go. This has brought me great peace in all of the uncertainty. He promises His children rest. Even when anxiety is closing in on me, even when I want to reach something that seems untangible, even when I feel I’ve failed, I have learnt to rest in His presence. And it’s okay to stop, to scrunch up your schedule and press reset for tomorrow. It’s okay to switch off and binge watch Netflix series for hours and it’s okay to not quite reach your standards of perfection. What is meant for you is already yours.

Love Always,

Shadz xo