What Self Care Might Look Like

For me, self care covers any action I do that mitigates the toll and stressors of everyday life.

In this post I am going to go through some of my everyday self care rituals. I believe ‘prevention is better than cure’. As such, my self care practices involve a lot of upkeep such as cleaning my body, eating nourishing food and practising mindfulness.

Cleaning My Mouth | Firstly, teeth are expensive! With a dentist appointment nearing, I am reminded how costly it can be not to clean my mouth properly. For this reason I spend a good 10 minutes everyday flossing, brushing my teeth, scraping my tongue and using mouthwash. Doing this has kept my teeth cavity free and awarded me plenty of compliments from my dentist. Financially this practice has been a Godsend as it keeps the cost of dental and hygienist appointments low.

Practising Mindfulness | I maintain a daily practice of 10 minutes each of yoga and meditation. It feels like a shower for the mind. Maintaining such a practice allows me to be better equipped when dealing with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. It is also a great practice to deal with stress. I find that since beginning this practice, I am a lot more patient and can focus much better.

Eating Nourishing Food | I believe my body is a vehicle and has to be fed the right type of fuel to function. My diet is plant based as studies show human bodies are most happy when fed diets high in vegetables. Eating nourishing food ensures I am eating food as medicine rather than medicine as food. 

Cleaning My Space | It is often said the environment we create is a reflection of our state of mind. Keeping a clean and tidy space allows me to have a quieter mind. The process of cleaning is also a cathartic one as it feels as though I am shedding the old and welcoming the new.

These are the self care rituals I practice most regularly. They are important to me as they mitigate the tolls of day to day life and keep me feeling refreshed.

If you would like to find out more about self care practices, tune into our first ever Self Care Saturdays event on the 13th at 3pm.

What does self care look like for you? Let me know in the comments. 

x x x

Poetry Explained: Damaged Goods

Audio of the poem Damaged Goods

I felt wronged and defiant

When I wrote the poem, Damaged Goods

The poem is almost 10 years old and is one of my favourite to perform to this day. It was written as a means to track the thoughts going through my mind after receiving a text from a lover where he had called me damaged goods.It is a rant, raw, full of anger and wit.

Video of me explaining Damaged Goods

It offended me that someone who was exhibiting similar behaviours to me had the audacity to call me out in such a mean way. I think he reacted that way to me because subconsciously he hated his own promiscuity.

When I received that text I was yet again reminded of the unhealthy obsession society has with a woman’s body count (the number of sexual partners a person has had). I still think it is unfair that because I was born with a vagina, my body count was seen as something I should be ashamed of. Had I been born with a penis, my body count would have been celebrated. 

I also found it frustrating that my desire for sexual pleasure was invalidated because I was born with a vagina. At the time of writing the poem, it was still seen as taboo for women to be aroused and enjoy sex. There was an erasure of female sexuality. 

Looking back at my behaviour, I am aware sometimes I was using sex in an unhealthy manner. At times I was using sex to relieve past traumas where consent was not given. This was certainly true when I would get drunk and wake up naked the next morning in a stranger’s bed with little recollection of what had happened the night before. 

Bearing this in mind, I cherish these experiences as they taught me so much about myself and consent. Writing this explanation has shown me how much growing up I have done since then. I stopped drinking alcohol to mask the shame I felt towards sex. Learned to honour and reclaim my sexuality as a woman. I have also confronted a lot of internalised homophobia and identify as pansexual/queer. It has been a beautiful journey of self discovery 🙂

Have you been made to feel shame because of the sex you practice? How did you deal with it? I would love to know in the comments.

x x x 

A Beginner’s Guide To Fashion Sustainability

All the above clothes were previously owned

More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects.

greenstrategy.se

Reuse unwanted clothes

Mend clothes that have some damage

Buy less by buying clothes that are of good quality

Some tips on how to be fashionable whilst being considerate of the planet and the people who create our clothes.

It is becoming apparent how detrimental the fashion industry is. Not only on our planet but in the violation of human rights for the workers who make our cheap clothes. 

A starting step to mitigate this damage is to reuse clothes that are no longer wanted. This can be done by shopping primarily in charity shops. Charity shops contain well made one off pieces and are cheaper than vintage shops. The trick with shopping in charity shops is not to imitate current trends with clothes from yesteryear, rather to develop your own unique style.

Skirt from a charity shop
Oversized shirt and tie from charity shops

Another way to mitigate the damage done by the fashion industry is to buy less by buying clothes that are of good quality. This ensures items of clothing can be reworn for years without needing to be replaced.

Mending items of clothing can be a great way of being sustainable. Although this tip requires learning some new skills such as sewing, overall it is a great investment. Rather than throwing away an item of clothing that has become damaged, you can repair it yourself at home with little to no extra cost. Saving the item of clothing from being thrown away prematurely.

Dress from charity shop
Jacket and tie from charity shops

These are some tips for a beginner looking to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion. The rule of thumb is to reuse the unwanted and to buy less. 

Do you have some extra tips on fashion sustainability? Let me know in the comments, I would love to read about them.

x x x

Choosing To Romanticise My Life

My purpose is to

‘make love to time’

To romanticise my time in this life.

This blog post is going to discuss the benefits of having a purpose. Having a purpose can be helpful in making decisions that best align with your values. This can be particularly helpful during stressful times.

The idea of having a purpose to live by first came to me via the book, Act Accordingly, by Colin Wright. The book had been recommended by Michaela Coel in a 2018 article in the Guardian.

After reading the book, the purpose I chose was to, ‘make love to time’. I wanted my purpose to be a reminder that I have very limited time in this life and to romanticise each waking moment. To treat my time on this earth as though it was my lover.

I now watch more sunrises and sunsets. Take in all the hues of light that pass through clouds. I set up my plates of food to have lots more colors to excite my eyes and mouth. I listen more. Take in the full picture, sounds and textures.

At times when I feel overwhelmed, I ask myself, “how can I romanticise my life right now?”. Often it is by lighting a few candles, burning some essential oils and making myself a pretty drink. Not only are these things aesthetically pleasing, they also help to calm me down.

Having a purpose to live by can be beneficial in all areas of life. Especially when it comes to making decisions best aligned with our values.

Do you have a purpose you have chosen to live by? I would love to read about it in the comments.

x x x

10 reasons for Tattooing ‘I Am Beautiful’ On My Forearm

In this post, I am going to go through the reasons I tattooed the affirmation ‘I am beautiful’ on my forearm.

It is important to remind myself I am beautiful for many reasons, amongst others, to maintain a healthy self esteem and to celebrate positive qualities within myself

Many of these qualities are linked with inner strength, mental resilience and accomplishments.

Disclaimers:

  • I believe that by purely existing, we are all beautiful as we are all sophisticated, complex and unique miracles
  • I also believe physical beauty is the least interesting thing about me
  • My tattoo is written in the Zimbabwean Ndebele translation, ‘Ngimuhle’

10 Reasons for Tattooing ‘I Am Beautiful’ On My Forearm:

  1. The tattoo reminds me that all of me is valid 

From the age of 5, a prominent caregiver made constant negative comments about my appearance. I grew up in a society during a period where a woman’s value was intrinsically linked with her ability to find a husband and create a family. I experienced other forms of childhood abuse that made it easy for my young mind to deduce I was invalid. I felt as though I was a burden and a mistake that had to apologise for its existence. A round of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my mid twenties gave me the space to challenge this belief and talk to myself like I would a friend. Since in my mind, being beautiful and being valid were interchangeable, it was soothing calling myself beautiful. So much so I would notice my mood lift by reading the statement ‘I am beautiful’

  1. The tattoo is a reminder of my resiliency 

I got the tattoo a couple of years into my recovery journey from rape. Although the sexual assault had annihilated what little crumbs of self esteem I had at the time, I was in awe at how much I was filled with life. I had a vibrancy and positive attitude towards the future that could not be erased even by the worst of days. I also noticed I was doing something miraculous by choosing to get better and having faith that recovery was possible, regardless of what was being thrown my way. 

  1. The tattoo reminds me to nurture myself

Seeing natural things mature and thrive in optimal conditions is an interest of mine. Although my tattoo is not a living organism, the skin it is on belongs to a living organism, me. As I want to see my skin and tattoo mature gracefully, I am incentivised to drink more water, lead a more active life, eat more green vegetables and eat more fermented foods. Living life in this way also benefits the rest of my physical body.

4. The tattoo reminds me to respect myself

This is the opposite of the broken window theory. The tattoo is aesthetically pleasing for me and whenever I look at it I feel a deep admiration for it. This also seeps through to an admiration for my talents as an artist to have designed such an elegant, engaging design. This talent and achievement remind me that a beautiful soul and mind are housed within this beautiful body. It acts as an incentive to further treat myself with respect.

  1. The tattoo reminds me to be comfortable being treated with kindness from others

Sometimes insecurities make me paranoid of kind actions from others. With the belief that I am unworthy, I am suspicious of those who treat me with respect. I find having a tattoo to remind me of my good qualities keeps such reactions at bay by constantly challenging the unhelpful belief.

  1. When I catch people staring at me, the tattoo reminds me to be comfortable with others taking my features in

This is similar to point 5). Being reminded that I am beautiful can explain why people would be staring at me (at times when I catch them staring with no explanation from them). It is more soothing to think that they are taking in my features. Thinking this way also gives me the courage to be kind enough to have a chilled conversation with the person doing the staring.

  1. The tattoo unleashes an inner strength and power

Believing I am beautiful gives me ‘Bad and Boujee’ energy. I find it makes it much easier to be assertive and say no.

  1. The tattoo is a great conversation starter 

As the tattoo is placed in a very visible part of my body, and it is in a language not spoken in the UK, most people I meet ask me what it means. Often a long conversation about identity or mental health follows which allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level.

  1. The tattoo reminds me of my choice to use my body as a canvas

The font is designed by me in patterns I used to doodle when I was in school. It feels like the tattoo is also a permanent record of my mundane experiences in school.

  1. The tattoo reminds me to appreciate the beauty in other people

Learning to recognise the parts in me that make me beautiful has made it easier to recognise similar attributes in others. As I know how much compliments can lift a mood, I am now also quick to give others compliments.

These have been the top 10 reasons I tattooed, ‘I am beautiful’ on my forearm. On the surface, calling myself beautiful and having that tattooed on my forearm may seem conceited. However, I hope to have shown that for me, beauty goes beyond physical features. There is beauty in mental resilience, the uniqueness in each human and the intelligence of our bodies to keep us alive.

Have you ever thought of having an affirmation tattooed on your body? Or do you have an affirmation tattooed on your body? I would love to know the main reasons behind wanting to get the tattoo. Let me know in the comments.

x x x

The Struggles of Having a Non English Name

Salibonani ibizo lami ngu Nozipho

hello, my name is nozipho

This post discusses the good, the bad and the ugly experiences of having a non English name. From having a name that has a beautiful meaning to strangers demanding shorter versions of your name.

Most of us living in the UK with non English names know too well the dread of introductions. Trying to regain composure in the lift after sharing stomach clenching laughter, a colleague fully turns around to face me, 

“It’s my floor next, it was nice meeting you. What’s your name?”

“Nozipho”

“Sorry”

“NO-ZI-PO”

“Do you have a nickname or what can I call you?”

Some shorten their names to easily digestible syllables to suit an English palette. Some change their names completely to English ones. I do neither, opting to teach each new person I meet how to say my name.

Almost all who hear my name initially are shocked to hear it. They proceed to refuse to say my name worried that they might butcher it so much so it will offend me. I then have to reassure them that I prefer them to butcher my name as it means they are in the process of learning how to say it correctly.

I used to shorten my name to ‘Nozi’ until I realised no one would learn how to say my name fully. Worse, some people would make a rhyme, “is your name Nozi because you are nosy?”. In my mid twenties I decided to put a stop to this by using my full name, Nozipho. I felt my name was too beautiful to be shortened into a meaningless word. I also felt it was the least a stranger could do as a sign of respect towards me. Saying all 3 syllables of my name.

It is soothing hearing a British person say my full name in the correct accent. I feel legitimate and have a true sense of belonging in my adoptive country.

Nozipho is a Zimbabwean Ndebele name literally translating to ‘goddess/mother/deity of gifts’. I am not too sure whether it means, I am gifted academically, I give others gifts or that other people give me gifts. I like to think it represents all three. 

My artist name is ‘ibizo lami’, the Ndebele translation for ‘my name’. I named myself this as a reminder of the phenomena I experience when introducing myself as Nozipho in the UK. 

Whilst non English names often carry with them profound and beautiful meanings, most of us who carry them feel pressure to change our names or shorten them to make it easier for English speakers. 

Do you have a non English name? What is your strategy when introducing yourself? I would love to read about it in the comments.

x x x