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

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

My Books of the Year 2019/2020:

In case it wasn’t obvious from my blog, I like to read, so here are four of my top books of the year – both course and leisure related:

1) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I have to start with the book that I am currently reading. If you’re into young adult fiction, a tad of romance and a bucket full of tears, this one is for you.

#CommissionsEarned

2) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens – As an English student, it was a bit embarrassing that I hadn’t already read Oliver Twist. I ended up doing my coursework assignment on it after finding out how many themes were packed into it. If you like a bit of Victorian culture, this is a great read.

#CommissionsEarned

3) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – I could have not have done this blog without adding in my absolute favourite author of all time. John Green. I could write so much on how much his novels influenced me as a younger reader and writer. I believe I even wrote about him in my Personal Statement for university! This book is great for teen readers – but us young adults can enjoy it just as much.

#CommissionsEarned

4) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Another young adult fiction novel. Again, might need to keep the tissues near – I certainly did!! This novel was the first novel of Nicola Yoon that I had come across and I am glad I did! P.s. The novel has a film adaptation on Netflix!!!!!

#CommissionsEarned

I would love to hear your favourite books of the year!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

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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

A New Found Fitness?!?!

During university, I put on a load of weight. Beforehand I wasn’t necessarily a gym fanatic but I certainly did a lot more than I did once I begun my new chapter at uni. It got to the point that I hate looking at the group pictures I took on my 19th birthday. My diet changed, obviously cooking for myself and only myself I naturally ate more and without having anyone to stop me I ordered a lot more takeaways.

This affected me a lot because I have always been an active person. I danced for many years both at school and at an academy. From the age of 8 until about 14, I participated in both football and athletics competing at a borough level on school teams. I took GCSE PE in year 9 and completed it in year 10 so that was two years of intense gym and various training in various sports. Even after that was over I continued dancing until year 13. I was always quite healthy and I never really had body confidence issues regarding my weight.

After seeing the pictures on my birthday I was absolutely horrified but still didn’t feel motivated enough to anything about it. I wasn’t incredibly or overtly massive but because of how fit and active I was used to being, it was hard to look at myself and not be happy with what I saw. I spent weeks being upset about it, comparing myself to all the beautiful people around me and even shutting off opportunities of talking to people and going to social events at university because it begun to affect me mentally. One day, before I came home I decided it was time to change and I started working out in my room a couple times a week.

Coming home from university has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve established a workout routine using videos from YouTube and go on runs (only once a day maximum and maintaining social distancing) on some days. Check out Rebecca Louise’s fitness videos btw! I’m eating healthier, drinking lots of water and I’m beginning to feel stronger and a lot happier mentally.

Some people want to gain weight, and some want to lose it. Some people are bigger than me and are happy and some are smaller than me and are happy. What’s important is that you’re healthy and that you are confident in your body and how you look and more importantly how you feel. It’s a journey for me. I love working out now. I love the sensation in my muscles the next day. I love seeing the progress! You’re all beautiful the way you are but sometimes a few lifestyle changes can have you feeling that little bit more amazing!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

The Art of Pursuit

First things first, I am incredibly sorry for the extremely late post. I was meant to post yesterday but life took over – you know how it is.

What I want to talk about today is pursuit, the beauty of it, the art of it. Throughout my life I have pursued so many things. People, business ideas and new experiences. Some of them succeeded, some didn’t – but that’s because I gave up. The beauty of pursuit is that it never has to stop. There’s always more to learn, more to find, more to build.

Whether it’s a new business venture, a new career or a new friendship/relationship, the trick is to never stop pursuing, never stop striving and never stop growing.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

Take a breath….

Does it ever feel as if you are running a constant race? As if even if you lay completely still, you’re still exhausted? Me too. Someone asked me that about two years ago, when they saw I was stuck in a constant cycle of overthinking and never getting the results I want to. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I know it can be difficult to make your mind stop going. And thoughts aren’t always that bad. It has been estimated by experts that the average human being has around  60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. That’s a whole lot – our brains are incredible! It is without a doubt that everyone worries about something a few times a day. But I know for me, and for a lot of you too it is sometimes just pure worrying a large majority of the day, most of the week. It’s easy for someone to come along and tell you to “slow down, “chill out” or “stop worrying”, but a lot harder putting it into action.

The best and most practical way, for me, to calm my brain and stop so many anxious thoughts passing through is to fill my day doing things that occupies my brain capacity. Yes, that may mean taking random trips to places, doing extra studying, reading, writing, drawing, exercising, getting a brain-stimulating job, cutting up fresh fruit (that has helped me!) or planning exciting things to do with friends. I had anxiety for a long time and every now and then it tries to rear its head but I am so concious of not leaving too many long empty gaps in my day because I know that it’s within those times, my anxiety creeps up on me.

Writing lists also helps me structure both my day and my mind. I would previously get stressed if I didn’t complete everything on my list or if my day took a U-turn. I’ve learnt now that it’s okay to crumple the list up at the end of the day, even if it’s not completed, and start another one the next day. (Though I would suggest you meet that homework/coursework deadline!)

This last tip that I have, and probably most hardest on the days you just want to be alone with your thoughts, is that when feeling stressed or thinking too much is to do things that completely oppose what you’re feeling. It’s so typical to go to your cringy break-up songs or sad songs playlist when you’re feeling terrible – I know you have one! Or even watching a really sad movie, like Titanic, might be the first thing you go to. Although these songs and movies are really good, they’re probably not the best thing to feed your mind with in this state. Give yourself a bit of time to collect your thoughts and slap on a comedy or some cringe worthy, cheesy and overtly happy songs. It might help more than you think!

I’m not a doctor, a therapist or a counsellor and none of these methods are in any way scientifically tested or proven, but rather they are my own ways of dealing with my overthinking.; I believe entirely that mental health is so so so so important and you should seek professional help if stress, worry and anxiety consumes your life completely. However, if it’s a mild thing that you can deal with but still gets you down, I would totally recommend trying these tips. They may not all work but hopefully you find something that helps you! Contact me if you have any great tips you can share!

Love Always,

Shadz xo

So who’s going to break the cycle?

Nowadays everyone’s got a lot to say about social media. Snapchat. Instagram. Twitter. YouTube. A lot of the younger generation, myself included can’t go a day without scrolling through our feed, flicking through stories, liking, commenting and reposting. But is it really all that bad?

It without a doubt that social media is used to do a lot of bad. There is a vast number of people, particularly teens and young adults who develop increasing bad self-esteem issues and mental health problems due to an over-indulgence on social media platforms. This is as a result of not being able to meet the standards that some influencers insinuate. But this is only a limited view.

Amongst ourselves, we peer in on each others lives, relationships, homes, meals, businesses, lifestyles and compare ourselves to our followers and the people we follow, including our real life friends. Without even realising sometimes we fall into the toxicity of comparison. And comparison can kill.

However, there is so much positivity that comes with getting stuck into social media, it’s not all that bad. And we need to teach this to not only our generation and the generations to come but also to the generations before us who are certain “our stupid phones” are the cause of all the worlds problems (metaphorically of course). Promoting hobbies, spreading encouragement and making people laugh are only some of the ways in which social media is pushing this generation forward. We need more of this. Let’s be mind changers. Let’s be cycle breakers.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

How do I juggle life as a sixth form student?

There are many aspects to my life currently as a sixth form student. Many of these exist within the realms of academia but there are other parts of my life that happen outside of school. Everyone’s experience with sixth form/college differs, depending on how they have chosen to navigate life. But here’s how I do it!

School Work

Week upon week I spend around 30 hours in school and I dedicate a decent amount of time (usually :/) per week to revision. For someone so engrossed in their studies like me, stress is inevitable, especially when the desirable outcomes aren’t produced. I try to balance all three of my subjects evenly but it’s difficult when perhaps I favour one subject (obviously English Literature) more so naturally, out of pure interest, I put more effort in or become so concerned with falling behind in a weaker subject (Maths) that it compromises the amount of time I get to put into the remaining subjects. I somehow managed to dedicate the right amount of time to each subject by assessing my strengths and areas of improvement and revise according to my weaknesses rather than constantly revisiting topics that I already have mastered.

Part time job

When I begun sixth form I promised myself (and my parents) that I would get a job. It was only then that I realised the value of money and could truly appreciate how hard both of my parents work for us. The cliche that “money doesn’t grow on trees” suddenly made sense. Being in charge and responsible for my own money prevented me from spending unnecessarily. Although it can be hard sometimes to juggle full time education and a job but it’s good preparation for real life – it doesn’t hold me back. I enjoy my job, I enjoy the company of the people I work with and I feel blessed to be in the position that I am in.

Family and Social Life

My family are my best friends, my favourite people ever. However, in the midst of life, between work and study, it’s easy to neglect, yes neglect, those close to you. Upon realising that I couldn’t constantly use my education and exams as an excuse to not spend time with my family, I switched up my priorities. And guess what? My grades didn’t suffer. In fact, I believe that the positivity of my family actually benefitted my study. As for my social life – personally, is not a big aspect of my life. I love my friends to bits but most of them are from my sixth form or other sixth forms with similar targets and aspirations. We’re not the biggest party animals so prefer to sit at home together and eat pizza but we have the best time. Everyone’s social life is different and balance doesn’t always mean 50/50. Although studies may take out a fair chunk of your time, always give some time to your loved ones.

There are other parts specific to my own life e.g being head girl, driving lessons etc but I think I covered most of the main general points. Feel free to comment if you want advice on any more aspects of life.

Love Always,

Shadz xo

What do I want to do within the next 365 days?

2018 has been a rollercoaster of a year. Some elements were amazing, others I have learnt valuable lessons from. Nevertheless I am blessed that I have made it successfully through another year. I have strengthened relationships in all aspects of my life, grown on a personal level and developed a whole new skill set that I never even knew existed. I still have a long way to go to reach the person I want to be but I believe that will be an everlasting journey through life.

So what do I want to achieve this year? Many set new years resolutions, and some do achieve every single one of them, and I can’t wait for the day that I meet every single person who has completely smashed those resolutions. In all honesty, I told myself last year that I would be exercising everyday, eating healthy, reading constantly and looking after my mindset everyday. In short, I haven’t done any of those to the max. Luckily for me, I recognised that those targets were perhaps a little to overboard, and not very SMART. So this year I have made targets more reachable and hopefully more relatable to what I am physically and mentally able to achieve. Here we go!

1) Pass A-Levels (with flying colours)

2) Start University!!!!!

3) Write and read more

4) Practice gratitude and general mindfulness

5) Give more

6) Save money

7) Learn to drive

8) Best to last: Spend more time with loved ones

Some of my goals are pretty personal, but others are quite general, so I hope you all can relate to them!

Happy New Year and bring on 2019!!!

Love Always,

Shadz xo