Friday, 19 April 2019

SPRING STYLE AND MENTAL HEALTH


Jeans/Zara
Sunglasses/Freepeople
Boots/Office
Clutch/Vintage/Etsy(Similar)
Suede jacket/Pop Boutique




STYLE 

Now that Spring has finally sprung, I wanted to kick this seasons style edit off by sharing this bold and fresh yellow blouse with you. When I first spotted this gorgeous stand out shade, hidden amongst the vintage glory on a rail in the covent garden Rokit store. I knew I had to quickly try it on and nab it. Today's look has been completely styled around the fabulous blouse with a pair of wide leg high waisted frayed comfy jeans, a pointy black leather statement boot (that I've been living in and finally found! See here for reference), banging seventies inspired super frames and mums (Flora Maria) old beautiful vintage detailed brown snakeskin clutch. Finishing the effortless look with a loose fitting suede vintage jacket, which I've had for years and is so perfect for throwing on for laying if it gets cold. You can see how everything pieced together really subtly compliments each other. And you can also get a lot of wear out of each individual piece mixed with other fabulous pieces in your wardrobe as well. Like styling the booties with a fun summer vintage dress, or pop a retro t-shirt on with the bargain jeans or piece some vintage denim shorts and white mules against the colourful blouse. Yellow is the ultimate shade for spring this year and I can't wait to style more of it.

Photography/Zoe Griffin


MENTAL HEATH 

Okay so it does seem a little odd to jump from talking about colourful style to mental health but if you've been reading my blogs from the start, you’ll know I don't really do the norm. I've been wanting to talk more on mental health with you for a while. Especially with the sudden sadden loss of Mike Thalassitis. I remember watching the show (Love Island), with Mikes entrance and thinking who the heck is this very handsome confident guy. Mike immediately grabbed the attention of viewers and made a strong mark on the series. So to hear about the news of his passing was such a huge shock. Of course I didn't know Mike and never met him but I really did feel affected by the news. Then it got me debating whether, was it only a real shock because he was in the public eye. And how so many people that are suffering from mental health go unnoticed every single day. 

Including myself in the past being one of them......Now I do want to say before I carry on with this post, that I am no way a doctor, therapist or anyone trained to address the psychological factors and thinking behind mental health. So all I can do is be honest with you and just share a snippet of my own personal experience with it. You may also be wondering why share about a topic which is so difficult to know where to start and talk about. But the main reason for this post is for you - that maybe going through difficulties with mental health yourself. For you - who wants to understand possibly for someone you care about struggling with mental health, and for you - who wants a clearer insight and understanding on a topic that is increasingly so complex and rising. 

From being someone who has felt depression derived from immediate grief (I lost my mum at 26), I would constantly receive offers of help. People I knew would say I'm here for you and your grief, and even people that I wasn't remotely close to would offer help. But in my worse state of depression I didn't want their help. In fact the thought of anyone thinking that I needed help angered and triggered my depression even more. Even though deep down I knew that what I was feeling wasn't like me and wasn't right. I didn't want help because I didn't want to help myself. I had lost the main focus of my life. A woman who I looked up to and knew would always be there no matter what, had vanished. So in my mind back then in a way my whole purpose for life had vanished too. I couldn't see the point of my existence and had nothing left to live for, and the feeling as I remember was very overwhelming and isolating. It's such a predicament to want to help someone you care about that quite obviously hasn't truly identified that they need help. But even at that lowest point I was still going to work, seeing people putting on a front and in their eyes out of closed doors ‘I was pulling through and carrying on'. So what I'm trying to say is 1. Mental health isn't always as obvious as you think, the happiest person who looks the most out there together can be suffering. And 2. Until I was ready to get help myself no one or nothing anyone said or did could help me. It was something I had to finally acknowledge and address myself. I had to tell myself that I was strong, I was kind, I was beautiful, I was caring, I was intelligent, I was wild, I was giving, I was talented, I was respectful, I was funny, I was down to earth, I was loving and I can see the positives in life. I had to build myself up again. I started to do yoga which really helped the bad thoughts trickling in my head. Exercising by running also made me physically feel fit and strong too.

I'm not sure what I wanted to achieve by sharing a perspective with you, but I do know I don't want to hear that the rate of suicide is rising, especially in men. I do also think that accountability has to be spoken more about and addressed. I can't truly place all blame onto social media but I do believe it can play a part. We as instagrammers, bloggers, readers, writers and social media phone lovers have to be mindful of what we portray. I've always been honest that I'm literally a 30's something fabulous hot mess. But try and pick and delete who you follow if you have to, take time away from social media and the intensity of your phone by giving yourself little phone breaks. I like inspiring people whether that’s through style or the acting projects I do. But I'll always be and stay 100% true X


(For support and help on mental health issues raised please do contact the wonderful charity Mind. I want to continue to talk about mental health because I would of loved to of read a blog like this to help me through some tougher times. Mental health doesn't have to be and shouldn't be shoved under the carpet and not a discussed 'thing' if we don't want it to. Thanks for reading xXx)














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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

LOVE, DEATH AND CHRISTMAS




As the year is quickly coming to an end (late Christmas Eve as I write this) and the official holiday time has approached us. I feel like it's that time of the year where you can truly reflect on the year you’ve just had. You work out and summarise if you've had a sh** year or not. And for some that can lead to this festive period, feeling like a real emotional time. Christmas is about love, joy, cheer, merriment, pulling crackers, celebrations, sprouts, long walks, mulled wine, family and everything in between.....So why on earth am I about to talk to you about Death.

This year has been incredible work wise. I toured a no.1 hit show, working with the no.1 theatre company in the world. Travelled across America, lived in New York and worked with the most talented, hard working bunch of people that I have ever had the pleasure to work with (epic but true). I also got to celebrate my best friend getting married (with an epic hen in Las Vegas), travelled to the south of France with an amazing group of friends to watch a magical open air amphitheater performance of Jamiroquai (With my friend Sola Akinbola drumming). I also got cast in a TV bbc drama 'Gold Digger', playing a younger Nikki Amuka Bird (inspired me for years), which will be on your screens next year. Also recorded an gripping political radio play for bbc, filmed a commercial, performed and worked on a new musical with a stella cast. But what I never ever shared with you is that I lost one of my closest friends to cancer earlier in the year. 

I was in NY at the time and Vikki deteriorated quite suddenly. I literally got a call and she was passing the next day. I was up searching for flights to come back on the Sunday to see her to say goodbye, but it was too late. At the time I was told she had gone, I acted like everything was normal. I got on the subway, travelled to work and then completely broke down. There were discussions of me not going on (to perform in King Lear at Bam Theatre, Brooklyn) but I somehow thought of Vikki and managed it. I had a convo with her in March, she was having chemo again and wasn’t feeling fit enough to watch my show which was at the Hackney Empire, London at the time. She kept apologising, and I just thought she was poorly from the chemo (unaware that that would be the last conversation I'd have with her). Even being at her funeral I didn’t actually fully register that she was gone (felt surreal). It’s only really this last week that I think I've felt ready to open up and accept that she’s no longer with us. I’ve had time to think about her husband Mike's first Christmas without her. I want her to text me to let me know when to drop off the boys gifts (she has two adorable sons), I want her to call me to tell me how her treatments are going.....And I want her to reflect the question back to me (as she always did) and ask how I’m doing. When Dag (Vikki who I've written about before here) first told me she had breast cancer in late 2015, I knew the angels would need her but I didn’t realise she’d be needed so quickly. As my mum had cancer I always felt like Dag could be really frank and honest with her illness with me. I would ask the questions that needed asking and she knew that I didn't need to hear only the good. In New York I wanted her selfishly not to pass whilst my mind and body was so wrapped up and distracted in acting work. All of my friends at the time rallied around her bedside in Queens hospital, Essex and were with her till the utter end....apart from me.

Also whilst being in New York I was told that my grandad was really ill and in hospital again. At 87, I’ve slowly seen him get frail and more poorly over the years. Then on a what’s app family group by my aunt (oddly not on my grandads side), I was casually informed that he had passed. My aunt thought everyone on the whats app group knew and was passing on her condolences (I didn't know because of the US time difference). My dad wanted to tell me at the right time. I immediately phoned my dad once reading the whats app message, and he said he was planning to tell me once back, as he didn't want me to worry (But I was worried, worried about how he was feeling after just losing his dad)

So after Vikki and my grandads funeral, which I didn’t attend because my dad said there’s no point flying back from NYC as grandad wouldn’t want that. He wanted to see you in Eastenders! (grandad would literally always ask me 'when am I going to see you in eastenders'. Every single time I saw him). I didn’t go to my grandads funeral as my family assured me that in grandad's heart, he’d would rather watch me on stage, doing what I know he loved, that he knew I only dreamed of doing (it just made sense to us).

But what I was also not sharing with you recently on instagram (because this definitely isn’t living 'the best life' content) or here. Is that seven weeks ago and five days after her 91st birthday, I lost my gran Claris Anastasia.....Now this is very hard to write....I just wasn’t prepared for that to happen. Gran lived a long story telling life (I loved hearing her stories) and still is such a remarkable women who I don’t think they make like her anymore. She had time and love for absolutely everyone and anyone. She didn’t care who you were, because she would invite you into her home. Gran didn’t have any old fashioned stale values (even at 91). Her heart was enormous and probably why she had over 400 people attend her funeral. I also don’t know how she was able to have such a giving relationship with her eight children (one including my mum) and many grand and great gran children (over 30 of us on her side of my family). Claris was strong and fierce. Fought through a lot invited here to the UK, coming over from the caribbean in the 1960's. Highly religious but never in a preachy over bearing judgemental way. She was just so special and loyal to so many people. Gave the best advice and was always someone you knew you could immediately turn to. Seeing her deteriorate over the last few months, and hearing her trying to mouth
I love you back at me a day before she passed still breaks my heart.

And just the notion of watching her and other people you love suffer is what pains the most at this sensitive time of year. So with Christmas slap bang in your face and with no chance of escaping it (unless you find a sunny beach somewhere).....It’s okay to say you want to give Christmas a nice big
punch in the face this year. We have to stop this way of never ever talking about grief. It's okay to say you're hurting, that you feel a huge measure of saddened pain. 

You can hopefully see that after the year I've had that writing about fashion just didn't feel right. But I still have the time to smile and you can too. We would not grieve if we did not love, so remember there isn't a set guide on how you're supposed to feel and deal with death. I've been in shock for a while but writing this honest post has therapeutically already helped mentally. Hopefully in time you'll feel open to continue to love and see how beautiful this thing called life is (If writing can help you, do jot down your daily thoughts). And what really helps me is knowing that Vikki, Grandad and Gran would never ever want to see their friends and family cry or upset. They'd all be saying get out there love! dance and shine! Spend every day grateful for what you have and make every single moment count.......If you’re alone or feeling lonely this year, you're not alone because I’m sending you all my love and warm wishes  xxx Wishing you a Glorious Holiday Season and A Happy New Year xxx

(You also maybe reading this having never had an illness such as cancer immediately effect you or never felt the loss of missing a love one. So I really do thank you for clicking this post and reading a topic that I know is highly sensitive to discuss. But by putting into words hopefully you have a clearer understanding (as you may have someone you care about suffering from a loss). If you or anyone you love is effected please try not to deal with your difficulties alone. Macmillan is an amazing charity that are here for you to talk, especially during this festive season)
. X

*All vintage prints available to purchase framed and selected by Free Mile Style.


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Monday, 8 October 2018

NEW YORK GUIDE: TOP PLACES TO EAT

Dekalb Markethall Brooklyn
Clinton Hall NY Downtown

Travelling and living in NYC was a third time visit for me this year. And after having done the real tourist places of pizza, bagels, doughnuts, cupcakes and famous cheesecakes previously. I thought I'd share with you a few non-tourist places that probably do go under the Manhattan/Brooklyn beaming travel guide radar. Places that are fairly discreet and only real new yorkers living in the big city eat at. So if you're planning a little trip to the big apple soon, adore your secret gems like me, these places will hopefully be right up your street.......Ps. Can you please take me with you?! 

More Places
Petees Pie - Best apple pie I've tasted that I couldn't not eat to take a picture of. Open til late. You must check out their insta
National - A cast lunch between show favourite two minutes from Bam Theatre. Authentic Thai with a Brooklyn vibe. Honestly absolutely delicious food. 
Steve's Pizza - The cast and I came here most nights after the show, traveling from Brooklyn as they do the best slices of pizza and cream cheese bagels. I badly miss this little place.  
The Press Lounge - For sensational views and gorgeous cocktails. We went at night and forgot my flash to take snaps (Take a flash camera and fabulous outfit!).  

x

All images taken on the Olympus Pen 8.

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Monday, 17 September 2018

WHY I'M NOT WEARING WEAVES ANYMORE

You've probably got the gist of today's post from the title, and I just want to say a wee disclaimer. That this talk isn't ever to shame or hold any judgement towards anyone, on how you choose to style your hair on your own head. This is just an account of how I've personally been feeling since I decided to stop adding extensions and weave to my hair....And go fabulously afro natural. X

THE BEGINNING......So growing up as a teenager my hair was often braided as a student in school. It was so easy for my mum to do and didn't require too much fuss, apart from sitting in a chair for six hours to get it 'done'. I think as I started college I really began to experiment and play with different hair styles, to eventually go on to relax my hair. I also began adding a few tracks of extension into my relaxed straight hair for added volume. The weaved extensions were threaded and sown directly into my cornrowed hair, or I would actually glue tracks onto my scalp. Which I remember over time was very damaging and actually left me with serious bald patches (don't glue extensions to your head people). So after a while from adding tracks I went on to having a full head of weave done (fixed straight extensions permanently sown into your full head of cornrowed natural hair. I hope this is making sense to you). With the weaved hair style I really liked how I immediately felt more grown up as a teenager, and that I could simply just get up and go in the mornings (no faff). 

ROUTINE......Over the years into my twenties I carried on having different weaves done. Mainly changing in hair lengths from bobs to shoulder length to long 18 inches, but always sticking to a 1b dark brown shade (matching my natural hair colour). I would usually plait my straight weaved hair over night to create that tussled haven't brushed my hair morning look, or as I would say 'I want my hair to look like I've stuck my head in a bush', random but true. I was just never ever keen on the  sleek fresh 'just been done look', the more messier the better for me (I mean there definitely were days when I 100% definitely didn't brush my hair!). Every night I'd wear a head scarf over my weave just to keep my hair looking clean and to stop any over hair fraying. 



GROWING UP......I never really thought too much about the actual hair process. It was just a routine of getting my hair re-done by my amazing hairdresser to feel good, roughly every three months (the extensions I used was natural straight hair that you could wash. Again I hope this makes sense to you). Looking back it felt more like a habit that I didn't need to think twice about. My hairdresser (aka hair god) is super amazing, and I think because he did my hair so natural looking. I had so many people from the community asking me who did my hair, or they'd say they didn't know it was a weave. I even remember being complimented on my hair and me immediately replying with 'It's not my real hair' and the lovely lady saying "Girl, its on your head, so its your hair". At the time I just felt super comfortable. Although I think at the age of twenty seven-ish I completely stopped relaxing my hair, and started texturising instead, which was a lot safer to use with less enhanced harsh chemicals.  

WORK.....Then for an acting job a couple of years ago I was asked to have braids for the character I was playing. Which I initially loved once done (after eight long hours). But after a while I did start to feel very different about myself. I looked more caribbean in the mirror, which of course I am...but I guess my facial features appeared different and I really loved rocking this new braided, dare I say it (because I actually can't stand the term) - 'edgier look'. But after the job finished I immediately went back to my routine of wearing a long weave again. 

NOW.......Pushing on to this year (2018) and after finalising on another acting job. I naturally had this real urge to not want to wear weaves on my head anymore. I don't know why, i just didn't like the feeling of it on my head. My hairdresser for years had been telling me to have my gorgeous natural hair (his actual words), also had my boyfriend for years and even my sister has beautiful naturally afro hair. But it wasn't till I'd say, July time this year that I was really craving the change of look style wise. 

YOU.........Like I've mentioned I have nothing against a woman or man feeling truly themselves by wearing extensions. I just didn't feel like that look was truly me anymore. Not sure if it's part of me growing up but I'd look at pictures and hate my fake hair. So I decided on my next routine hair appointment to not go spend a ton on hair extensions in the shop. And to actually have my own hair out. So you can imagine my hairdresser who actually makes more money from me as a client (now a close friend) to have weave instead of treatments, was delighted with my decision of a natural hair style. He said trust me we can treat your hair (special professional products used to keep afro hair naturally soft and deeply moisturised, so it doesn't dry and break) every two weeks and get your real hair looking amazing. And I haven't looked back since. I just honestly feel more me now and it actually doesn't take too much time to style in the mornings. I do need to do more research and get a few more natural hair styles going, but I'm loving every second of my new hair so far. I just like how funky it looks and I love my natural colour. 


REVOLUTION......So now what I'm noticing, is more women with natural hair like me that I didn't really notice as much before. I do believe as a society growing up, we as women are deeply conditioned to think that our hair isn't beautiful enough, if it doesn't appear exactly how hair looks on the women in the glossy magazines (that I haven't read for years). But it really doesn't have to be that way. You or me should never ever have to feel lesser than anyone  because we don't have naturally long flowing commercially straight hair. We are all uniquely pretty and beautiful naturally as we are. So that's my current hair journey and Happy World Afro Day which is now every day for me. xX
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