Humanity In Crisis 

  

Image: HA Hellyer/Twitter

I feel obliged to write this post simply because I am human and simply because I need to express my feelings. The media is awash with controversial viewpoints regarding immigration, it is rife with photographs of refugees packed into small dingys willing to survive and it is overshadowed by views of racist, immoral and troubled individuals. This topic is one I felt reluctant to write about as it evokes numerous, sometimes unbearable feelings in people. Expressing your views invites others to argue, disect and push you to limits you never knew existed. I have found that you must have a strong will to be able to handle the backlash. 

I will be as open and honest in my thoughts if not just to raise awareness. 

I arrived home from work yesterday to a photograph engulfing the media showing the dead body of a toddler washed up on a beach. A beach may I add, which shouldve been the setting for happy childhood memories, a place where children play. In all honesty I could’ve cried but I didnt. My feelings were surprisingly that of shame. In a world where footballers get paid tens of thousands a week, where arms and oil feed the greedy and children just simply end up dead on our worlds beautiful beaches, how can we not be ashamed. 

I refuse to comment on “immigration” as a whole but instead throw my thoughts towards the thousands of my fellow human beings who are being killed, tortured and subjected to treatment I only believed existed in the movies. My world becomes a little darker. 
I am constantly exposed to many people’s social media rants about “spongers”, “scroungers”, “how dare they come into OUR country”, “foreign scum” and so on! You get the picture. Unfortunately these people are sometimes people I know. My reaction everytime is that of utter sympathy for such ignorant and ill wishing individuals. I have also resigned to the fact that I  cannot even find the resilience to respond anymore. 

My point is, that as a race, we humans inhabit a beautiful, thriving, life sustaining planet yet all we choose to do is destroy it. We are separated by pigmentation, we are individuals because we come from our earths different and beautiful countries, something to take pride in. We share histories, culture, religion and art yet day by day we destroy the very essence of why we exist. The day will come where we may have to stand as one (Human) race and I shudder to believe that we can. 

What has happened to simple humanity? What gives another the right to choose for you. Choose your thoughts, expose your children to racism and ignorance. In death, would you not want to leave a legacy to be proud of, leave your children in a world where they won’t be mistreated?

My world darkened a little more today whilst hearing that our prime minister believes “Britain is a moral nation”. The sadness I feel is simply because the only people we will end up harming are our children. We are not a moral nation if the majority of this ‘great’ nation believe in white supremacy and dividing our world, yet are happy to eat the cuisines, holiday in the destinations, be treated by foreign doctors and even be “ok” with the local corner shop man. He’s ok you see because he’s been here for years! 

If a child is dead on a beach after fleeing a country he may be killed in then it is our duty as humans to help and save. What if that was your child? I don’t profess to being all knowledgeable in political agendas but I am a human who would not turn my back on fellow human suffering. 

If we cannot come together as a race and look after eachother, what is the point?

My thoughts will always stay with those who are suffering and I will look at you as human and not as a colour when I offer myself in salavation. 

Humanity’s crisis is that humanity is failing humanity!

WinterWarPaint

Sexism. You are so bold & brash! 

 

Physiologically women are proven to be the weaker sex. My intelligence astounds no man, simply because he’s threatened by it! I’ve never really been much of a ‘feminist’ but I clearly recognise in my daily life the constant, unbearable sexist behaviour from some men. Bear in mind I said “some men” not all! 

With GCSE’s, A Levels and a degree under my belt, not forgetting 15 years of service in the British Education system I still get responses from men which absolutely floor me! 

“Hey, don’t lift that table, the men can do it”.

The men! Excuse me! I am fully aware tables are heavy, I am fully aware I would prefer to not pick up a table, however my capabilities are fine. Thank you very much! It is difficult to explain without ruffling feather embellished egos but I’m sure many of you understand.

There are men I know, who in all honesty I don’t care to ridicule but boy do they have major insecurities which results in obnoxious and stupidly sexist language pouring out of their mouths. They are constantly in a state of distress that people don’t like them, people are talking about them, people think they are losers. In continuation I could really be much harsher but that’s really not what my point is. My point is that these ‘sexist’ men encompass many of the mirrored insecurities many women face daily. My point is that these peoples insecurities plague them so much that they must treat women with disrespect to earn their ‘manly stripes’ and feel better about themselves for a minuscule of a second. The feelings don’t last. 

My job entails being a respected and well informed role model for many inner city children. This I do very well and take huge pride in yet am sometimes shocked at many young peoples responses to women. Men are not taking enough responsibility to teach young people about equality; the word equality really shouldn’t even be an issue anymore. 

“How will your son or daughter respect people if you don’t teach them how?” 

Being a young, British Asian woman, I lucked out when it came to equality. Unfortunately many traditional views see women treated like complete imbeciles. Luckily my experiences weren’t that bad. I was expected to be a dutiful daughter, cook, clean and be quiet! Ssssh!!! However, I failed in my task whole heartedly as I am a loud, opinionated and messy woman who can veg out with the best of them. Yet, I can cook, clean, keep a house, I can even change a fuse. Look how clever I am! In all seriousness I am very capable of female, domestic duties and like most other women, I’m also very competent in paying bills, gardening, DIY and holding down a job just like any other ‘person’.

I rarely use the word ‘sexist’ simply because it holds such magnitude as a word. Say it with caution, not with pride because before you know it you will be painted as a non shaving, yoga loving, vegan feminist with two not three cats. I apologise profusely for the ludacris stereotype. 

I’m very proud to be a woman but come on guys are you that dangerously dated that you need to show a woman you are better simply because you get a higher salary or you actually believe women are inferior. (Topics I may touch on in the near future).

My strength as a woman comes from being honest with myself about what I can and cannot do and from respecting the fact that sometimes women are better than men. It is a logically acceptable notion. Being an intelligent woman means having to put up with situations where you could be made to feel inferior and have no platform to voice opinions. 

The challenges we are exposed to as women are tough enough, finding a voice in a male dominated world is even tougher. However, my thoughts don’t travel far enough to become a fully fledged man basher as I have many amazing males in my circle who are brilliant role models for young men. 

Before our society can adapt, we collectively need to bring awareness and education to teach our young people that there aren’t just great men in our world but many great females flying the flag of success. 

The essence of a woman is the strength she accumulates just to tell the world that she can do it too! 

WinterWarPaint 

“In dedication to my mother, a woman who does it all!”

Image/Businessinsider.com

North West Meets East ~ A cultural Collision!

  

As a born and bred North West Londoner I pride myself on being a culturally rounded individual,  with a healthy balance of both East and West running through my veins.  The daughter of a Ugandan born father and a Kenyan born mother I welcome the many cultures which have entwined to make me.  We are of Hindu,  Indian descent and growing up I was exposed to stories of life on three different continents of the world.  India being the land of my mother tongue and where my grandparents were born,  East Africa where my parents were born to hardworking immigrants looking for a better life and the rise of Idi Amin in Uganda followed by the expulsion of Indians from their homes and businesses built the strong Indian communities you see in the UK today.

My father has told me many stories of life in Uganda,  growing up as a boy in a family of eight other siblings and of life before the rise of Idi Amin.  Life seemed to be focused on hard work and better outcomes. My grandfather from what I understand, was a man of principal and few words.  His beliefs strong and his dissatisfaction even stronger.  I sometimes wonder where my strength of opinion and high expectations come from.  My father passed down these qualities to me unknowingly I am sure,  the qualities I very much take pride in.

Growing up as a female in a family of parents who were forced out of their homes at a young age and obliged to set up life in an alien environment with western values that question eastern traditions,  was tough.  Not only was I expected to learn my own cultural values but to also adopt the British way of life.  When in a situation of such cultural clashes,  it is difficult to solidify values that can please everybody. I was torn growing up,  torn between pleasing my parents and pleasing society enough to be accepted.  When you are taught at home certain cultural rituals which then contradict the acceptance of western rules you become somewhat confused about your place in the world.  I adore my culture and my history which is engulfed in traditions I am proud of yet I chose quite early on in life to question religion as I had no concrete beliefs in something I was told to believe in, not something I grew to believe in.  Don’t get me wrong,  I have the utmost respect for the Hindu religion, but I chose a path where I needed to ‘feel’ what I believed in. I needed to be able to say ‘why’ I believed in my religion.  I couldn’t answer that question so I retreated back to a more respectful position when it came to religion.

In all honesty,  I am widely more westernised due to the fact I was brought up in London.  A culturally diverse city where practising two cultures can tear your beliefs apart – if you have any! Growing up, I was very sheltered from life. I didn’t know which milestone in life came when – I was a puzzle of two cultures trying to fit together.  I had questions my parents could not answer and questions my teachers at school could not answer.  So I guess I ended up inventing beliefs of my own which stemmed from a rooted Asian upbringing dusted with western promise.  I still adopt confusion at times when life throws at me character questioning experiences. Should I deal with these experiences as an Indian woman or as a British woman? This question haunts me every time!  I,  as many British Asians my age,  had to learn two languages,  two cultures and two histories. I had to learn about being my home self and my British self.  I cannot say it hasn’t set me back in life as I believe it has at times.  Being an Asian girl growing up in the 80’s in London not understanding my role as a daughter, a student or understanding my role as a young British Asian girl. I was torn between pleasing everyone else and myself. 

When two cultures combine, they will inevitably clash as group beliefs offer a strength you cannot gain as a lone soldier. I guess I can say I was hindered growing up but I was positively richer than most. Your outlook on your own life can really help you to understand who you are and what your beliefs are. As an educational practitioner I support the views that the  education system  really needs a helping hand in teaching religion and spirituality in a much more rounded &  equal process.  Where there is knowledge, there is a culturally confused individual screaming out for balance and if we can teach children tolerance and understanding then maybe these individuals can accept themselves as lucky instead of confused.

I knew growing up that I was different to my western peers, my life rituals were different, everyday rituals were different. Yet I survived,  I grew! I look back at how tough it must’ve been for my parents, being uprooted as children, forced to grow up before their time and forced to be somewhere they had no choice over and I am thankful that they built such a strong family through all those challenges.  I can sit here and complain that at 6 years old my mum refused to buy me a Barbie yet I wont, I wont simply because I can appreciate now what sacrifices my parents made as children.  We were never spoilt and I thank my parents for not instilling in me a sense of entitlement. 

Cultural clashes are inevitable in our day and age, but I hope for the younger generation it is less of a mountainous climb but more of a hurdle filled sprint. It is frowned upon in Indian culture by many  to have children out of wedlock, to have a boyfriend, to live together, to marry out of religion and culture and even to leave school and work without qualifications. Take a step back and imagine the obstacles these beliefs could bring your life.  There is a constant war between respecting your culture and living as a British Asian in the UK. It’s challenging to say the least.  Challenges many don’t even think about.  I’m lucky to have an amazing set of parents who with strong cultural beliefs allowed us to follow our dreams.  My father once said to me,  “do what makes you happy in life” – and that I did!  Though the culture clash is exhausting, it’s something that has taught me a resilience others may never learn, a battle with yourself and a challenge to be selfless. 

I appreciate that I’m lucky my journey was challenging but fruitful growing up, and however much my culture clash develops into my life I am glad the challenges taught me skills I am proud to possess. The words, “what will people think”, echo in my mind most days and I resign to the fact that above religion, culture, traditions and beliefs you can be proud of who you are by simply being a kind human being.

Strip away a persons history and if you are left with kindness then you have very much already succeeded in life, no matter where you come from.

WinterWarPaint
Image/Hindu.com

Who really listens to understand?

Image: lifehack.org

Communication! Just look at the word and take it all in. Communication I believe, is part of the essence of a us as human beings. A stem off the lifeline we need to survive. Many don’t stop & really think about what they say, or not say in many cases.

My daily grind requires me to teach children communication skills for many different reasons. I find children are much easier to communicate with than adults purely because they are honest and nurture seeking in why & how they communicate. Adults on the other hand, I find uneasy to communicate with. Maybe it’s a result of many adults letting me down as a child, where now I am quick to question motives. Add a dusting of social anxiety & call me your local recluse.

People need to effectively communicate to keep this world of ours moving, but effective communication is something many fall short on. I find myself in constant competition whilst in conversation – who can speak the most, speak the loudest, get their point across first. Yet neither ‘conversationalist’ is really listening to one another. There was a time I would constantly be talking. I lived to talk & socialise and be the centre of my social circle but how times have changed. ‘Adults keep away!’ is my my signpost of choice these days! I’m constantly searching for honest, careful & substantial conversation. I seek the people who want to communicate effectively. These people listen, they think & they view your words as important thus viewing you as important. Your actions affect people and especially how they communicate with you. There are so many people on my, ‘avoid communication with!’ list. People I respect & like but cannot bare to have conversations with simply because there is no mutual respect. Unfortunately, people are sometimes too self involved to really listen & understand. Communication should result in both communicators gaining a greater understanding of each other & the topic, resulting in having a greater understanding of each other.

I cannot sit here and admit to being an effective communicator myself, because I cannot effectively communicate at times, especially with adults. Most are a let down, most are selfish & most don’t really care what you have to say. This saddens me, especially when the person is somebody close to your heart or someone you care for deeply. In all honesty the entire world is so obsessed with impressing each other and blowing their own (questionable) trumpets, so as a result I sometimes believe it is effective communication to retreat into the trenches and hide.

You can never truly know a person unless you can listen to them speak and understand what they feel and understand that what they’re saying will evoke feelings. Listen enough to learn, to respect & to just be a little selfless.

           

“Be a little selfless.”

I can count on my right hand how many people ask me regularly how I am or how’s work – am I well? Those are the type of friends, who if asked would know a vast amount about you as a person. The effective communicators, who listen enough to understand & with such understanding there comes a mutually respectful relationship. Conversation does not need to always be meaningful but it does need to be understood.

I have found that the ‘closest’ people to me are at times the ones who I find myself retreating from. The few who have a misconception of who I am purely because they don’t care enough to talk to me. If you find yourself frantically now listing those who don’t effectively communicate with you, don’t give up on them. Offer them a level of understanding in which you may inspire them to grow as a ‘communicator’.  

Image: WinterWarPaint/Instagram

Communication is key to forming & maintaining healthy and respectful relationships. If you fail to listen & to understand then it is the relationship with that individual which will suffer.

Be mindful of your interactions, be patient enough to care about what others say. 

WinterWarPaint

Weighing up my world!

There are so many people in the world on weightloss journeys, fat fighting expeditions and health hauls. I am indeed nestled within the UK quota of this vast group of health freaks. 
I believe health and fitness is steadily becoming a way of life for people. Social media is enabling these ‘journeys’ to be shared. I have numerous friends who are on their own personal journeys to lose weight and get fit! I’m also on a stop & start journey myself – my journey is erratic to say the least. 

To some, the gym is a sanctuary, a place of worship even. A friend of mine spends more time in the gym then he does anywhere else. I commend him as he had a goal three years ago, a goal to change his body and his attitude towards food. He fully achieved this goal and even surpassed it. This takes courage, motivation and drive. I, on one hand adore anything health and fitness related when visually pleasing but getting me in a gym is hard work in itself. There’s a huge level of intimidation followed by anxiety followed by shame. I am ashamed to hit the gym! This in itself sounds ludacris but when you add a poor self image to an anxiety disorder you get a scared, mostly self conscious woman on the edge.  I’ve got the gym kit, I’ve got the knowledge. I even bought the fitness accessories to match, which do not serve purpose physically but they do bring a sense of achievement. My gym kit hosts accents of bright pink, because of course that’s highly important. Small steps are better than none. If you keep telling yourself this, I’m sure one day it will ring true to you.

  
Instagram in itself is one of the most powerful tools you can use to help you along your journey. My personal weightloss journey is kept somewhat fruitful as I continue to use instagram to track my progress. It is a platform for fitness junkies to post workout videos, women to document their post baby bodies, people sharing weightloss journeys and posting meal goals. The term “eat clean, train mean” is every fitness fiends mantra. There’s massive value in using social media as a tool for fitness as it’s free. People’s journeys are free to intrude upon, visualise and gain inspiration from. 

Through all my personal turbulence and pain I’ve found a joy in seeing others succeed and my own journey may not be as fast paced as many but it’s begun and it’s slow but its relevant.  Yours can be too!

 Image: BurnBuildBoost/Tumblr

There is a constant war in my world between food and my longing to lose weight. I love food, who doesn’t but the huge pressures of the food industry pushing many into temptation with the latest biscuits and chocolate bars and the not so “healthy” new crisps marketed enough to make you believe you can lose two pounds if you eat them has engulfed our societies. I am very sad to say, but so has bone idle laziness. 

I came to realise, the key to health and fitness is indeed food. If you eat right, you can look better and feel better in a matter of days. So, as a result of educating myself I began keeping a photographic food diary on instagram. Not only does it gain me many confidence boosting fitness followers but it documents most things I choose to put in my mouth at meal times. This photo album of cooking conquests keeps me steady on my path, now I just need to find that same motivation for the gym.  Image: @winterwarpaint/Instagram

My very friend who has surpassed his weightloss goals is now indeed an avid fitness vlogger. He is using his journey to inspire others. Posting fitness videos and inspiring those people who need that little boost to take the next step. I am confident that if my circle wasn’t full of such ambitious and goal driven individuals I would never have started my own journey.  Video: @jamdcerebro/Instagram

The fact is, your body is something you can change to be exactly what you desire. Media pressure on people to look a certain way I won’t even waste time commenting on. Your body, means your decision! A healthy mind is indeed what drives me to fight for a healthy body however slow my progress may be, there’s still progress happening. To all my extended instagram and social media friends thank you for the inspiration, keep posting, keep blogging! Food and fitness is a lifestyle change and the quicker people realise this the easier it is to hop onto your own journey. Weightloss and fitness journeys are very personal and whatever your reasons to begin, keep going! When you do see results, it’s a feeling money can’t buy!

WinterWarPaint


Sorry, your ambition got lost in transit!

  This past year I have met a handful of very impressive women. Women who work hard, women who have children, a job, their own business and who are hungrily ambitious. 

Meeting these women through mostly work, I seem to have kick started my engine and turned the dial to, ‘success please’. 

Ambition! Where does it come from? What does it mean? 

My school report read:

‘Your daughter has the potential to be very ambitious, as long as she doesn’t let others distract her, she often talks too much.’

Yes I was distracted. Distracted by the fact that I had no idea what life was about. I followed you see, I was a follower! I tried to impress with my perfected ‘following’ and my well established ‘distraction’ techniques. This resulted in missing that milestone where you realise you want to succeed, you want to reach your full potential & set goals. A milestone I didn’t even realise I should have been approaching. 

Luckily for me throughout my career I’ve met some very wonderful, ambitious and grounded women. These are the women who are kick starting new business ventures, training themselves up, supporting a family, reaching for goals they regularly set themselves. These are the women I admire. The women others thrive to be like. The confidence is inspirational and the hard work commendable. There is no doubt my career has been successful so far but now it’s my time, time to work for me!

My new found ‘ambition’ suits me well. I allured confidence at quite an early age when it came to speaking and communicating. A confidence which was battered by the onset of social anxiety and a confidence that slowly retreated into a place I dare not look for. Fortunately for me my confidence sheltered the almighty anxiety filled storm and sailed right back at a steady keel this year and my sights are set on many new ventures.   “We must teach our children about life.”

I look back at my years at school and realise that I wasn’t taught about life. I was taught how to fit into a mould, taught my basic curriculum and left to make my own mistakes. 

As an educational practitioner I fully believe we must teach children about life. That life is tough, finances are hard to manage. You have a credit score to maintain, you will need to pay back your student loan, you will face challenges but that’s ok as school has tried to provide you with the skills to deal with the pitfalls of life and also the peaks. We need to teach our children about life. The good, the bad & the ugly. I myself, was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole at school. I just didn’t fit! I didn’t understand that I needed certain tools, skills and knowledge to succeed in having a fruitful future. A lack of knowledge and willpower meant I didn’t thrive to succeed growing up. My pace was albeit sloth like. I went to school, I went to university, I got a job! I did what I was meant to do. If I had pushed myself a huge amount more I may have had success much early on in life. 

“Be the catalyst for your own dreams”

This, however is a chapter from the past which lends it’s hand in pushing me to presently succeed in this story of life. This year was testing yet fruitful and I’ve found a lease of life I had begun mourning. So in a nutshell, no matter the time of life, you can always look back, check off mistakes and set a goal!  

So to all the ambitious, hardworking go getters out there, thank you for reminding me that I don’t need to grasp at success anymore, I can actually hold it in my hands.

WinterWarPaint

“No Regrets” ~ Oh please! 

Throughout my late teens and early twenties – as many of you out there, I was learning about who I wanted to be. What kind of ‘adult’ would I become?  In truth I already believed I knew all there was to know about life. In all honesty I lacked the skills to maintain my finances, I put no value on a job nor did i take pride in bettering myself. I coasted, making money from a career I didn’t put thought into and spending that money as quickly as I earned it. 

My parents are grafters, hard working and resilient. Only in recent years have I found the gratitude and appreciation for them not only working every hour they could but for providing me with a safe, somewhat protected life. There were occasions where I was a bitter disappointment to my parents. I collected a big bag of unsatisfactory choices and decided I knew best. Some of my friends were questionable to say the least and my choices were proving problematic to everyone but myself. So I chose my path, my decisions, my way. I could never once admit that many of my choices as a big twenty something were albeit the wrong choices. 

Many people throw out the term “no regrets” – as if mistakes can be brushed under the big, homely somewhat dusty carpet you have wrapped around yourself. I do have regrets! I regret choices I made that brought my parents pain. I regret not holding them in higher regard. I regret not being hungrily ambitious straight out of university. I regret not having the skills or care to save money or think about my future. I cared only to satisfy my own needs. 

I cannot return to my fun fuelled twenties but what I can do is appreciate the people I didn’t appreciate, make wiser choices & take control of my own life. We were not made for a solitude life. People are around us to teach us to be better. The people you choose to have around you are the extension of who you are. Treat them better – treat yourself better. 

So on reflection, by highlighting snippets of being a twenty something, growling nightmare – I am happy to announce I am indeed a grounded thirty something making mostly better choices. I made massive, life changing mistakes which I doubt will ever be forgotten but my path is now a stable carving. Journeying through some rough terrain but in all honesty a brighter, appreciative and light filled path. 

You cannot dislodge dark fragments from your past but you can actively make choices to be better. Everyone can be better!

WinterWarPaint