Sunday, November 27, 2011

Insecurities on show

This video gave me some food for thought:

So after watching this video, the first thing that came to mind wasn't how demeaning it was that all these girls were shaking their booties or anything like that. I'll be honest and say I felt a little bit jealous, I thought to myself: I wouldn't mind a bum like that!

Unfortunately I do not have a bum of that epic proportion. My lack of a derrière is something that gets to me sometimes. Coupled with the fact that I am black and there is some kind of unwritten rule that black girls are supposed to be blessed in that department and also the current preference for big bums in the media, I occasionally feel a little bit down. Where does my skinny ass fit into the picture? Does anyone really want to see bones instead of meat?

After battling with these questions, I decided to take a new stance: I don't care. And let me say this don't care attitude is something that I have been trying to develop for a while in regards to my physical insecurities but unfortunately hasn't been very successful.

I decided to try and take a new approach, that of acceptance. As part of this new tactic, I've bravely decided to list some of my insecurities in regards to my appearance, not because other people necessarily want to know but just to get them out in the open.

1. Lack of bottom.
2. An out of proportion body: this is not an easy insecurity to get over as it is such a pain. Being a size 10/12 on top but a 6/8 on bottom is really not helpful in terms of finding flattering clothes :(
3. A protruding Adam's apple( I've been told many times that only males have Adam's apples but I'm clearly the exception to the rule as mine is always ready to say hello whenever I look in the mirror)

So with those insecurities in black and white for all to see, I'm going to declare today that I am learning to accept me for me! All these things that I complain about help to make me and if I don't learn to love them, who else is?Whilst I'm no Nicki Minaj, I'm still gonna shake what my momma gave me (even though she didn't give me much in that department :D)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Each day is a gift, not a given right

This post is a reflection upon a recent incident that has been in the news. Two young students were crushed to death after a stampede at a packed nightclub.

See full story here

When I first heard about this incident, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. Obviously I know that people die and things happen. The new is rife with gun crime, knife crime, murders, rape etc. but this really hit home. The overriding thought I had was: what an awful way to die, such a waste of life. To think that earlier in that evening those girls were getting ready to go out, probably amongst friends with high expectations of the night, with no incline of what was yet to come.At 19 and 22 these girls were still in the prime of life. To think that their families will never see them graduate or get married or even just get to hug them again is hard to take in.

This story made me aware of how fleeting life is. We don't know what each day will bring. Whilst we can't predict the future, we can be grateful for every day that we walk this earth. Live each  day to the fullest and know that today is a gift and tomorrow is not promised.

My heart goes out to the families of these two beautiful young women and to all those who have lost people and are hurting.  I hope that they can find the strength to live their lives in tribute to those who are no longer with us.

"Dance like no one is watching, Love like you'll never be hurt, Sing like no one is listening, Live like it's heaven on earth."

Friday, November 4, 2011

The wrong kind of love

*disclaimer: I'm not sure where this post will go, I'm not even sure if I will finish this but I feel compelled to blog about this after a long while of hiding from it*

Love is a beautiful, amazing, wondrous thing. To know that I am loved; by God, by myself and by others is one of the driving forces in my life. But there's a dark side of love too. A destructive side. A love that wounds without intention or sometimes without knowledge.

I've known that kind of love and everything that came with it has shaped the person I am today. A couple of years ago I was in an 'abusive' relationship. A relationship that started off well but which could have destroyed me.

Let me start by saying that there are lots of opinions about abuse, domestic violence etc. (I know because I've heard a lot of them) but I'm not here to validate those opinions but just to give my account.

I fell in love. And in the beginning it was all I ever wanted in a relationship. Then things changed. What should have been meaningless arguments escalated to bouts of emotional and physical abuse. There were always tears and begs for forgiveness (on both parts) and over and over again the promise 'not to do it again'. But those promises were empty. The love between us was too needy and too involved to see the damage and so the cycle continued. I wasn't aware of it at the time but my identity started to slip away, I didn't think the same way or act the same as before. The more love I invested in him the less I invested in myself and with that I made myself even more vulnerable.

However I was fortunate. There came a time when enough was enough and the destruction had to be over for good. I'm blessed with the most amazing network of family and friends who made sure I never went back to him and who supported me in my darkest days. I often wonder what would've happened if I didn't leave. To be honest I could've been dead.

I would love to say. We broke up, I got over it and life is all good now. But the truth is: that kind of love scars. Sometimes I feel angry with myself for still thinking or feeling sad about it. The product of that love was a lot of fear and anxieties. I get anxious when I see couples arguing, I get agitated when people even mention the words domestic violence.

Despite this, I can hold onto the fact that I'm alive and I'm breathing. And everyday I give God thanks for that. I've been blessed with a wealth of opportunities and I'm proud of the person I am today. Sometimes you have to be broken to be healed; its all a part of growing and I know I've got much more growing to do. I've learnt some valuable lessons. I've still got some healing left to do but I've come to accept that sometimes it's okay not to be okay. I'm only human after all. Even after seeing the damage love can do I haven't given up on love just yet. I still live in hope that one day I will share a beautiful, pure and enduring love with someone. (P.S that guy will be very lucky because I am one hot mama!)

There it is. I did it. And surprisingly I don't feel sad, I feel empowered. For every negative, there's a dozen positives. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reading between, through, across, around, above and below the lines....

I have a problem. (I have many,but lets just start with this one) I read into things far too much. This post is on a similar vein to my last post, as this problem often leads to worrying.

I don't know how to just take things at face value, I always over analyse things in my head. Whilst I'm sure in some instances this is a good thing, more recently it's driving me crazy. This reminds me of childhood/adolescent romances, you know the ones where if he texts back with a kiss he likes you if there's no kiss there's no hope. Exactly the same now but on a wider scale, not just reading into text messages but phone conversations, body language the lot! Why can't I just be happy with what I hear straight from the horses mouth? No consequences, no implications, nothing.

What good is it trying to read into something ,especially when 9 times out of 10 no one is going to validate the theory I come up with?

So on this note, I'm trying to figure out what the best course of action is. Should I continue to read between every single line or just be straight up and voice my concerns/opinions at every opportunity? Or maybe a bit of both?

Guess I've still got a little more thinking to do on this one.....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't worry....Be Happy

I worry about absolutely everything; the past, the future, my family, my friends, my degree, my job. To be honest I even worry about how much I worry. To be fair the energy I invest in worrying could probably be better used for something else.

The trouble is that I think too much, I tend to ruminate and look at things from all possible angles and from this the worry stems. Alot of the time I worry about things that I have no control over. The things that have happened already cannot be changed; I can't take back any words I have said or any actions I've done. Tomorrow is also not promised so what good is it worrying about things that haven't happened yet.

On paper, I am able to rationalise my thoughts but in real life it's a different story. Whilst I often tell other people  "Don't worry", I hardly ever heed these instructions myself.

I'm sure I'm not alone in my plight. Don't stress my fellow worriers, I feel your pain and together we shall overcome. This passage has become a real comfort to me in recent times.

"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done" Philippians 4:6

Sometimes we have to let go and let God. Invest the worrying energy into something more positive; give it to God and let him do some glorious work!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Call me a Yardie one more time!!!

Hello boys and girls, today we will be looking at the issues of heritage, labels and stereotypes...FUN FUN FUN!!

Today's post is a reflection upon a recent encounter I had with a friend. Although the tone of this encounter was not malicious and could probably be described as 'banter' I was a little offended by a label placed on me. As you may have guessed by the title; the label I was given was that of a 'yardie'. *Hangs head in shame*

Urban dictionary has several definitions of the word yardie:

- A Jamaican (usually from trenchtown... the 'yard'). Also derogatory referring to how they work in the yards of wealthy land owners in the West Indies.

- A person whom is a native of Jamaica or his/her off spring

-The term 'Yardie' refers to Jamaican criminals. Many operate in London,dealing drugs and acquiring illicit money.Frequently seen driving BMW's (with) darkened windows, they like to visually display their status;expensive gold jewellery, designer suits and sunglasses! They will administer very quickly violence and (death) to those who show 'disrespect'.Life expectancy low as their deeds sooner or later catch up with them..

All of these are very different representations of the word Yardie, some more negative than others.  For me a 'yardie' is not something I would like to be. In fact it encompasses some things that I am slightly disgusted and a bit afraid of . For me the 'yardies' are the people who congregate outside my local Caribbean takeaway, whom I generally cross the road to avoid. Those having  unnecessarily loud conversations, in which the phrases 'Rass', 'Bloodclart' and ' Eeee Heee' are frequently used.In essence,the word yardie has never had any positive connotations for me, representing a lack of class and decorum.

However I have now come to see that my interpretation of this word may not be entirely valid and the previous paragraph does include some stark stereotypes. What may be a derogatory term for me may actually be an empowering or positive term for another.There may be societal, cultural and racial differences in the associations of labels such as 'yardie'.

My heritage forms a integral part of who I am. I relish in my half jamaican/ half guyanese ness. Being of Caribbean decent, being influenced by Caribbean culture and values has enabled me to be the person I am today and for that I am eternally grateful. I know this is something felt by many, regardless of their heritage or background. For me it is essential to know your history in order to know yourself. However I'm learning that issues of heritage and background can be a complicated affair.

Let's return to the issue of the term 'yardie'. In discussion with two friends regarding this mis-labelling I was exposed to contrasting views.

"I didn't think a yardie was something bad, I just thought yardies were just like those jokes Jamaican men in Brixton. I didn't know it was something offensive", one friend of Polish/Austrian descent.

"Nah, he called you a yardie! That's out of order. Does he even know what a yardie is, your so far away from a yardie it's a joke", the other friend of Caribbean descent.

It was these two different statements that made me consider things in depth. It's not really about what labels are given to you, it's about how you interpret those labels and whether they are applicable to you.

Let's take the issue of the word 'nigger'. A commonly used example of a label that has changed over time. As we all know it was essentially a negative term used to describe black people but now a days it is word commonly featured in the vocabulary of some black people. Whilst some still recoil in horror at the use of the word and it's demeaning origins, there are others who are not phased and may even see it as a term of endearment. With contrasting feelings such as these, it is often difficult to take a stance of right or wrong within the context of labels.

To conclude I have learnt that there will always be labels and stereotypes and people will continue to use and misuse these for centuries to come. Should this stop us from identifying with our culture or discovering our roots? Should this hinder our progress in the world? Definitely not. It's a matter of identification and acceptance. You can choose to accept or reject various labels attributed to you. For me I reject the label of a 'yardie' because I don't think it is a valid representation of who I am. However I am more aware of the variability in the way labels are given on a personal and subjective level. Like many things labels, names and stereotypes have two sides: positive and negative. That is just the way life is.

The important thing that I would like to take away is a sense of knowledge and pride. I know where I came from, I am aware of the plight of my forefathers, I have a cultural awareness and a respect for my heritage and I also have a longing to discover more and go deeper into these issues of heritage. And that in itself is a beautiful and exciting concept. It doesn't matter what label I am given, or which I give myself as long as I retain an identity that is true for me. So go ahead, call me a yardie one more time......

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Soul Searching for Dummies

At the ripe old age of 21 I have come to question : Who am I? What is it that makes Lauren, Lauren? Concepts of identity that I felt were so stable seem to have flitted away and I've been left with a yearning to get to the heart of me. Fair enough I can probably adhere to certain labels: a daughter, a sister, a student, a friend, a sex bomb (I joke) but how well do these labels tell the story of me? More recently I have felt like I'm in a stage of transititon almost as if I have emerged from my cocoon ready to flap my wings. Whilst I'm sure that the old caterpillar traits and ways of thinking no longer apply, I'm still working out what it will take for this butterfly to fly high.

Whilst my insect analogies might not be everyone's cup of tea I thought it may be interesting to let others join me in my journey of self discovery. Hopefully this blog will address some important and moreover interesting issues but who knows it may be something that the wider world can relate to. (Fingers crossed.)

So welcome to the start of my quest.

Soul Searching for Dummies -  fitting together those little pieces of me :D

L x