Friday, January 09, 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

From the archives

I can't believe its already over 2 years since I wrote the article below wow!
Please re read from the archives while I try to shake a nasty cold.

Enjoy!
Link

Find your own Personal Style!

I attended a funeral service last week, with a high antecedence of black folk and just a spattering of whites and others. First of all, let me repeat the point I made in the past, about how black folks love black to the detriment of stylish presentation. As you can imagine, the black crowd appeared to be in their element with this all out licence to wear black!

I noticed a few folk who chose other sombre colors. I have mentioned that I myself am trying to move away from black but as old legacies die hard (that sturdy coat you bought in black or those pretty charcoal suede heels you adore), I still have black stuff I can freely access and so I was – without even especially planning it- in mostly black.

Anyway apart from a few black women who made the effort to look well turned out even in all black, I am afraid the long skirts and those Germanesque practical shoes and denier 100 black stockings, were in full display, of course teamed with all sorts of curious pentecostal hats and not to forget shapeless coats!
 
To be fair many of the women in these I-am-not-even-trying-to-look-good apparels where middle aged, but there is truly an issue in terms of how black women in Britain dress and their whole sense of style. I am not just pointing outward, I include myself in this critique. And yes there are a range of real reasons why black women might be experiencing lack of choice when it comes to style and dressing. Our particular comon shaping (bigger bust and hip area), can mean that we quite quickly develop a love affair with stretchy fabric so we are not wrestling with buttons and zips or a loose waisted skirt with a tight hip area. I personally know how frustrating it is to go into shops (even those that dress larger women), and try on dress after dress and still not find any to fit. I know that many of us with our body shapes are confined to shapeless clothes in dull colors by clothes companies who dont know what to do with our proportions or refuse to spend extra to tailor for larger women. I know the heartbreak of ordering clothes online only to have to return every single one of them for sizing issues.


Solution

These are some ideas of styling/dressing for black women

  • Don’t be too focussed on fashion trends, instead make it a life long journey to hunt for pieces that fit and compliment and attest to your unique style, then keep these staples around as long as possible. Be a collector so to say, of fine clothes – don't wear out good fitting clothes, and think of buying multiples of an item of clothing that works, even in other colors.If a pencil skirt of a particular style and make works for you for instance, why not go back and get a couple more. Think of buying two or three, even in different colors.
  • Every black woman should visit a stylist every couple of years and this is critical once you hit your thirties. There is even the option to go shopping with your stylists. Get your color wheel sorted out as well, so you know what colors and color tone work for your skin type even in terms of makeup.
  • Focus on building an individual style. Leave the crowd behind. Grow your own hair for instance (there are many methods available now to achieve this goal -watch this space), and put aside the weaves and wigs as a staple of your look. Look after your skin as it is the foundation of your look!
  • Every black woman needs a skin lightner (I kid you not and this isnt an invitation to self-hate so calm down!) Having melanin means on average, a greater tendency to have black spots and discolored patches. A little outbreak of pimples and you are left with black marks for the next couple of weeks! In effect if you have outbreaks once every month which could be termed mild, because of the black spots that result you are however never free from the signs of acne from month to month (acne then marks, then acne and marks and so on). I am noticing even more, black women with uneven tone, some have serious melasma where it looks like they have rubbed their faces in soot (and as dark black skin ages this soot-on-face look can become even more apparent). A good skin lightner/brightner or peel, to address discoloration and even skin tone can be of great service to black skin. The aim in this case is not to make you lighter but maintain what you have! 
  • Know what works and don’t forget it in this whole crazy rush to change clothes and update wardrobes every season! If you get a styling right, why not take a picture of your ensemble -preferably with you in the picture-and build a scrap book. This is so handy when you have to find an outfit for a party or an interview etc quickly. Why spend hours shopping for something, when you can flick through your scrap book and decide in minutes the best look for you and also discover that you already have pieces that work in your wardrobe! Scrap books also help you develop and discover a sense of your own style.
  • Support wear is a must. A good deal of my clothes budget goes on support wear. A smooth line and uplifted bust and butt, does wonders even under tent like clothes. That’s how effective shape wear is. For many of us, shape wear needs to be built into our everyday dressing, so you must have several girdles etc. I would suggest, go for a fitting. There are companies and tailors that can make individually fitting corsets and shape wear. I would pay the money to have this done. It is an investment that is well worth it (some of us end up with off the shelf shape wear that rides up or down etc as the day wears on and a tailor-made corset etc can be a good guard against this happening).
  • Loose weight and exercise for firmness. This goes without saying and enables you to have access to the best clothing on offer as opposed to being an after-thought of clothing companies. There is something about sizing of clothes that means that the bigger you get the more likely you are to experience acutely, a mismatch of sizes on your upper and lower parts. Rolls of fat accumulating in specific areas can also force you into sizes that end up being too big in fit in particular areas, because body disproportionality increases with size.
  • Spend good money where you need to, do not skimp (shape wear, bras, girdles, shoes, coats).
  • Try other colors than black (try navy, silver, grey, black green, forest, camel etc). See if you can go three days of the week without an item of black (even your bag!).
  • Remember people make a large part of assumptions about us by how we dress, use this to your advantage and take pride in creating an intriguing style and look. Speaking to the world through your sense of style and creating this style can be such fun. I am a creative person and nothing gives me more creative pleasure tha designing a look! 

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BWE is about Balance and Focus on the major thing - you

This is my last post of the year in which I wish us all a Happy Christmas and a very special New Year of dreams fulfilled and more dreams.

I missed my planned post for the 15th of Dec. It just got suddenly crazy busy. It amazes me that we go through this time each year but I never quite gauge how busy it gets so I say I will do things that I never get round to ha! I get better at some bit of the planning and preparations for Christmas however I guess because of the shorter days it does feel like there are not enough hours. I still overspend, forget to send a card on time, over buy alcohol etc etc but I am still working at it.

Today in light of the recent happenings/killing of black men and the spark riots, counter killings that have happened recently I would like to say something about the position of BWE in all this.


If you ask me what the most salient difference between a left and right world view is, I will summarize by saying that there is the position of the left that we should not put up with the world as it is but change it for the better. On the right the view often is that there is a way the world works and those it favors and we should all get in with these ways and methods of winning and the sad truth is that people will get left behind and even crushed by the system in place. On the left there seems to be virtue and on the right there seems to be uncaring self interest. The truth however is that things are not exactly as they appear, for one all the change we think we have made in our society might not work out as progress in the final analysis. Humans have moved far but we might end up in a place that is very unhealthy for the planet and for humanity. The ability to be selfish is also inbuilt into all of us or else we wouldn't do things that improve our individual lives on a daily basis, we wouldn't care for ourselves, eat right, exercise etc.

In all this it appears the key is balance. Even as a black woman you get pulled in different directions, you want to contribute to creating a better society but you must always keep in front of you your personal ambitions, your personal well being. If you forget your self in all this you will end up being used by others to push forward an agenda and then get cast aside. We all have one life to live and we need to look into that. Money and wealth makes life better. No left winger can convince me otherwise especially since they often continue to keep their personal or family wealth intact while preaching for a better world whether it be Naomi Kline, Russell Brand etc etc. Even if they are not massively wealthy they keep intact the net works and positions that keep them in lucrative deals so they are never living in poverty while speaking against it. To me the test of walking the talk is as Jesus put it, "sell you goods and give it to the poor'. If they are not doing this then we all need to focus on our own comfort and well being.

Poverty is a horrible thing. As I have written in Lessons from the Neighborhood it can be so mentally destructive and soul destroying to be trapped in a situation you cant change because you lack the finances.

The world set up that responds to money and wealth and favors those who have these will not change in the near future so you have to be at work trying to elevate your self and your situation so that you have a level of independence to react and respond in ways that safeguards not just your life but your well being mental and physical. Indeed if you came down with a bad disease today would you have the money to opt into some positive experimental treatments. What about your family members? There are treatments, diets etc that can go a long way in improving the lives of your loved ones but for the lack of resources.

So have a happy time of year and see you in the New year pumped up and ready to take on great new challenges to take us further and farther.

Next post available 5th January 2015

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Innovation is the name of the Game

Look at all the amazing things we enjoy because humans are essentially animals of innovation.  Having just been to the dentist for some major dental work, I am thankful that certain fields of endeavor don't stagnated but move on and innovate sometimes at a fascinating speed. Trust me, you want medicine and dentistry to evolve especially as you grow older and depend on these services more. Years ago when I visited dentists with my kind of problem, the dentist would simply look at his x-tray shake his head and schedule an extraction. Today as my dentist said, they work with 'tooth on the edge'.

Animals don't innovate at least not as a general pronounced aspect of their lives. If too many animals die as a result of a situation, predator or condition, a few of them will evolve past the weakness and their genes will pass on this 'innovation' to the next generation.

As for humans, we innovate on everything, even the most simplest of ideas and implements.

Needles seem to have been one prehistoric tool that enabled man to leap forward in his evolution. By being able to sew and make clothes, tents and etc, man (and woman) was able to keep warm from the elements and spread into territories were winter months lasted and lasted which would have served to keep out human populations. I just opened a catalogue and found an innovation on needless, that most prehistoric of inventions!  Made for people with sight and desterity problems (like older persons) apparently you don't need to squint and carefully thread this needle.All you need do is insert your thread from a top opening. Easy Peasy!

Innovation is the name of the Game. You as an individual need to be innovating. The way you did something yesterday, need not be the way you do it today especially if yesterdays method took up much time and resources. Sometimes its not just about new implements and discovering new patented tools and inventions. Organizing by studying a situation so that you can schedule it better is an area of innovation. Can you combine elements of your house work for instance to make them easier and more efficient. I am one of the great snoozers of all time who likes to stay in bed that extra 10 mins. It occurred to me and I decided that since I like the comfort of my bed and the feel of the warm sheets just after I have woken, I will do 15mins of reading in bed each morning. It works for me because I can do some essential reading at a point where it would have been simply wasteful lolling. I am just about to finish my first book using this morning reading method and it is a book I have been carrying about unfinished for months now. So yes 'life hack' (as they are called) tricks are another area of amazing innovation.

I warn that if you are not innovating in your life, at work and school, you might well be paying a price for it. The world increasingly belongs to the innovator (and I don't mean only major innovators like computer programmers and etc). At work, people expect you to take things forward and you pay a high price socially and economically if you are a person who just does it as it has always been done, and never finds even slight ways of improving efficiency or quality. Learn new skills, time management procedures etc to take your work and life practice to another level where innovating the tired and stale is your watchword.

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My Place in the Sun

Next post available 20 December 2014

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

How well do you know your own Psychology

and how well do you know your own body.?
After many years of observing (or simply after experiencing it year in year out it became obvious) I realize that during the cold periods I am more or less in a constant state of colds and flus. I now realize that I can have infection after infection after infection. It means I have now adapted my daily strategy to recognizing this reality for me. Previously I would be less careful about catching a cold after I had had a bout of it believing myself to be somewhat immune, now I simply make sure I am constantly defending against another infection. 

What are the little things you have discovered about the way your body works or your mind thinks that you can compile and read over again and again. I do my best mental work in the early mornings, I guess like most of humanity however it bears noting now that I am attempting to pursue some IT studies.

One of the positives of having some years behind you is that you have an understanding of yourself and of the world around you that can be converted into an advantage in how you organize and manage yourself or compete for resources with others that have less of this understanding. In a world that worships youth this advantage can sometimes be forgotten.

Tracy Ellis Ross and Father Robert Silberstein

As women we also learn to accommodate for or control our up and down moods throughout the month. As a teenage episodic sadness almost seemed like the end of the world or that there was something not right with us. I am indeed a sensitive soul but I have learnt to make peace with that reality of my personality instead of wondering why I tear up for the silliest things!

Here is a list I have recently come up with. See if you can begin to observe and note for yourself things that will help you in making yourself more efficient, saving time and preventing waste:

  • If I wash my hair with Sulfur products I get an extra frizz free day
  • Taking my folder of paper cuttings and reading them on my Monday train commute is the best way compile the important information that could get lost at the bottom of my draw for months
  • Taking a picture of a well put together ensemble helps give me ideas on days I am searching for what to wear. I just go to my picture folders and I can suddenly put together a good outfit from seeing what I did in the past
  • If I want to make it in to work on time, then I have to be out of bed and straight to the shower (not switching on my computer)
  • Surfing celebrity sites before 11pm means a wasted day 
  • If I east any sweets before 12pm it will mess up my food discipline for the day
  • Cows milk and products made with this makes me bloated. Goat milk is a better alternative
  • Waking up at 5am each day guarantees I will have a very productive day meeting my personal goals of reading, studying and self improvement
  • I need to exercise for at least 2 hours a day for mental clarity and balanced emotions and a feeling of wellbeing  
Make lists (as broad as you can), about things you observe about yourself , how you feel how your body behaves and responds in various situations, and when you have compiled these take time to read it at intervals e.g once a month (when ideas occur to me I write it in the note book I carry around everyday and transfer these to my 'jotter of personal observations' at the weekend). Include various philosophies of life (and of winning), that have meaning for you or that work for you e.g 'If I take care of the little things, the big things tend to sort themselves out for me.'

Identify Goals for 2015
It's that time of year again to look at a program for the new year. What do you want to do better, shoot for or be involved in? It can be big (and thus broken then into building blocks), or it can be small and ready to launch. I was so inspired last Monday when I got on a train and there was this well made up black lady. Her makeup was dewy and blended and her eye makeup and blusher where right on! She caught the eye of many on the train. I was bleary eyed still wiping the sleep from the corners, no dearly needed foundation! I vowed then that I would spend an extra 15 mins in the morning (by waking earlier that is), to get my face done up before I leave the house. I haven't quite managed it this past week, but I am scheduling to have it sorted by Jan 1st 2015! If you have fitness goals for the new year I would suggest start them now (the beginning of advent is a good place to start) so that you will be well into them by January 1st 2015.

Next post available 30 November 2014

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Do you feel like you are outside the relationship know-how loop?


What do you know about how men and women get together in your local area or your society as a whole. In the USA or UK or France but also in Wisconsin, San Francisco, Perth. In many a western country its a closed and stitched up loop from a very early stage. That is to say that men from good families and worthwhile men are usually stitched up by school age, in other words the network from which they will find a bride has already been formed by late teens. I am not saying that these men will be married by teens or twenties only that the networks from which they are likely to pick partners has mostly been formed by then. Men and women meet at college or through the extended networks of friends made at college or their friends and networks (once or twice removed). So no matter who they end up you are likely to see it drawn from this broad ingroup. By the age of 30 it seems almost like a closed loop to the outsider, yet marriage break downs, death occurs, life takes people in various directions. In addition luminous out group people (cultural creators) can gain entry into these closed and exclusive groups or gaps open up at points in these closed circles admitting anyone in especially anyone who recognises what and where the gaps are (So that answers one question of how to break into the loop of already established social circles).

What are the prevailing Zeitgeists that will aid your breaking into exclusive circles? A certain change in political atmosphere for instance could mean there is now a market for black conservatives for instance...

Also think about the members of these circles and what they could want in terms of adventure, and variety etc after all their well-ordered socially fenced off life might no longer provide them with the inspiration and excitement they seek out of life. Indeed even while others fully embrace life within the circle, some men want something different to what they are surrounded by and the predetermined path.


Philosophies of relating

What are the dominant philosophies that drive relationship formation in your area/society that could hold sway or even aid your search. In the Western world many minorities are seen as the downtrodden or the done wrong by the big bad westerner. For many of us this condescending attitude might provide us our foot into powerful social circles, and while some black women and men are happy to play and replay this role, it is not everyone’s cup of tea especially if at the end you cannot live up to a fantasy creation and play the part of the aggrieved minority on demand because you don’t feel in anyway oppressed.

There are certain philosophies that have a huge impact on how the dating game is played for instance in many parts of the western world the drive to take out all the guess work in men and women coming together, even to flatten male and female differences (This one is big when it comes to 'the approach') means that women are now expected to be as up and doing for the relationship to happen and in visible ways as men. A dominant school of thought out there suggests that we should no longer adhere to male female gender roles in getting together, thus there is way more relaxed attitude to women initiating a date with a man (after all women are liberated and say what they want and if they are not saying to men then they don't want).  
 
There are those who argue that rules of modern feminism have and seek to burst the gender-tensions that made for more exciting romantic interactions between men and women. Traditionalist women are having a hard time in this current state of affairs. For instance they complain that men make compliments and hint at a date or relationship (a role traditionally played by women) waiting for the woman herself to make the move or close the deal (a role traditionally reserved for men). As a single woman how do you survive and thrive under this new relationship regime. Can you deal? If not what is your strategy for getting what you want in a society in which these new rules hold sway?

Next post available 16th Nov 2014

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Naturally Staple (Shrink) your Stomach

Self improvement blog alert!

Before I tell you how to do this stomach shrinking thingy, lets talk about why the FASTING Diet (or FAST Diet or 5:2 Diet) might be good for you.

I have just met a friend who has lost so much weight it's unbelievable. She was into aerobics and water weights and all that before and she had a measure of success but she has been on the fast Diet for maybe 2 months and she is looking like a new person.

She is for me another testament to the success of the Fast Diet. If you haven't heard about this diet then, where have you been? I posted about it a while back and now I am back to it so you know it really is a good 'un. I am not one to post before and after pictures (maybe because I forgot to take the 'before' ones and also I am still on this journey of slow and steady race winning) but I am giving this one a thumbs up because of all the benefits -not just weight loss- that come with doing the Fast (5:2) diet.

The name might sound scary but it is not a scary diet.

As the name implies you do two days of low calorie eating on about 550 calories and then eat normally for the rest (5 days) of the week. It is good to do a block of two days though you can split it and do the second day after a couple of days between (there are certain physiological advantages of two consecutive days). Even if you eat excess on the five days you will be in a better place than if you ate to excess every day of the week. I have also found that your eating on the rest of the days (none-fast days), gradually falls off over the months until you are not eating as much generally as before. 

What I like about it is that it reintroduces discipline into your eating gradually, and unlike replacement diets, the short cycles of the Fast diet means that you are always optimistic because the period of low intake comes to an end very quickly and you can restart eating normally. Gradually though from my personal experience, the diet breaks down the hold of overeating over months until you cant even imagine binging on the excess of food that you would ordinarily have been comfortable with eating in the past. This is indeed where the stomach stapling action comes in but more on that later...  

I think I have unravelled the core principle of success inherent in this diet at least for me and a few other people out there. This principle is that for many of us, we need to know how little we can exist on, in order to know how little we should eat. Before I started this diet which has become a lifestyle (almost 2 years), I couldn't quite conceptualize how the human body could survive on the little amount of food (or so I saw it) that gave 2000 calories (using my images of modern food dishes etc). I used to really get shocked to see and hear people talk about or design menus for lunch or dinner for meal portions containing 450 - 550 calories. It was just too small in my eyes. I just didn't know how one could possibly exist on such small portions or so I thought. 

Fast Diet, is a slow and steady worker no doubt but I believe it beats out so many other 'faster' and more popular regimes because of a few facts which I will detail. 

Let me state this plainly, controlling your eating is the MAIN way to loose weight. Exercise helps but trashing about in the gym will go just so far (look around, some folk never exercise but are lean, but on the other hand it is rare to do the level of exercise needed to burn off binge eating weight unless you are a professional athlete or body builder. Intense exercise on a very overweight body can also damage joints and ligaments etc trust me I have been there and done it!).

No method is easy, loosing weight and overcoming the bad habits that took you to the 18 stone will be hard, or put in other words will take some effort and sacrifice, never believe anyone or any method that promises a walk in the park, often what happens for those who claim it was easy, was that they found a method for themselves that just gelled with their ways of life and rhythms and other psychological makeup so much so it seemed like a breeze to them. So you will have to do something different, sacrifice and even feel deprived (Often my fast day falls on my cinema days and there is a lot of self-pity when I notice the folk around me with large portions of ice creams, snacks, popcorns etc etc). So my advice is, embrace the sacrifice, the self-denial aspect of any dieting and weight loss option you choose because there will definitely be that aspect in fact go ahead and turn it into a spiritual exercises if you need to!

Never say, 'I am now 50, 40 etc, I should have sorted my weigh out ages ago' and start regreting what you might have missed by being overweight. Put self pity and regret aside and don't let it rob you of one more day of possibility.

The benefits I found:
  • After the fist hunger pangs (have your main meal or drink loads of water at this point) have settled, your body goes into a natural high so you are in a very positive and happy state of mind, often with loads of energy (I know it's kind of unbelievable but true!). It is thought that the depletion of your insulin stores as the body burns these for energy is the reason (ketosis) for the heightened state you experience
  • Your body soon gets into a rhythm and naturally anticipates your days of fasting, in other words your body starts to cooperate with your fast dieting and you start not to feel so hungry on the fast days or you don't wake up thinking about food or breakfast etc etc little ways the body helps you go through the days of low eating. It helps if you do your fast days at the same times in the week e.g on Saturday and Sunday (or better still when you are so busy in the week so you don't really have space to think about food) for instance 
  • The heightened state and energy can lead to a spiritual like perspective on the fast day (no wonder yogis and other spiritual folk incorporate a lot of fasting and restrictive diets into their lifestyles). 
  • It might seem drastic and you may fear for your life but, I have done more extreme weight loss systems that restrict calories for longer periods and know that you don't just starve or collapse after a day or two of low calorie eating as long as you remain hydrated (the body can go without food for weeks as long as you have water), and the ability to live life in a heightened state for a couple of hours or days (smell, taste, sight and sound), is something to be experienced.
  • Knowing that you can eat after two-three days of rationing teaches you the appreciation of what you put in your mouth after
  • It might take 6 months or more but you learn discipline in food eating (I think because gradually the process of eating and stopping, eating and stopping, gradually wears down your the hold of the binge eating habits formed in the past). Once you know how little you can eat and convince yourself you dont need all that food, you can easily retrain yourself to eat well because you know intimately that humans don't need that much food, despite feeding habits in the society in general
  • Your stomach shrinks- trust me on this one! Once you have done this regime for a couple of months, you will not need a third party to remind you not to not cram food down the day after the fast...
  • Your food bill drops significantly and those food treats you bought will hang around in your fridge for weeks before you find the space on your daily eating pattern to eat them. Cutting two days out from your normal eating block is really significant. I like chicken and fries but have not had the 'space' to insert them in the last month (and no I don't crave it uncontrollably, I just would like to eat it, and know that one of these days I will go into the KFC store down the road and ask for a big meal!)
  • Write things down that you crave when you are fasting, and see how few of them you actually do get round to eatting when you are not on fast days
and etc etc etc I could write pages.

I strongly suggest: try this diet for yourself for a week or two and see how it goes, what have you got to lose. Remember nothing worth having is ever easy to achieve, this might be the easiest one in the bunch for you. Don't be indolent!

How to get a stapled stomach naturally
Folks pay loads of money to control food intake through stomach bypass or stomach band surgery and it is on the whole very successful in curbing overeating because you feel full pretty easily and of course binging is discouraged due to discomfort you get when you binge eat on a 'stapled' stomach. I have recommended the bariatric procedure to family members myself because I know it can be a life saver for those who cannot control/lose their weight. The Fast Diet naturally reduces your stomach size and you do get a good deal of discomfort a few days after if you dare overdo it! However nothing beats three day in a row fast in shrinking your stomach to almost half its capacity. I did three days fasting in august for about three weeks in a row and I can tell you that I honestly cannot overeat (even a bit) without a whole lot of discomfort and regretting having that extra helping. It is training my food eating habits like nothing in the past could! 

Know however that self sabotage is possible also with this diet as with all others and as with a stomach bypass etc alcohol and calorie dense liquid food taken to excess can nullify the effects of a shrunk stomach. 
 
Next post available 1st Nov 2014

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