Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Creating a home that reflects my personality

Hello everyone.

I have been re-decorating my home for the past four weeks. I love to modernise my looks and myself as an individual but I realised last month that I wasn’t applying the same attitude towards my home. I live in an apartment that my dad once lived in until he bought a house.  Everything about the place has his name on it, meaning its shows his personality and the kind of things he likes . His very much into the latest technology so there’s all of that around the house as well as the shelves, wardrobes and cabinets that he has made himself as his profession is in the carpentry / joinery industry. The only thing that showed my personality was the duvet covers and a few picture frames, plus the smoothie and juice makers in the kitchen lol.

He wasn’t opposed to me redecorating the place so I started on the hall way towards the end of last month, painting it all white and adding a few black and white accessories that have inspirational quotes on them. I love inspirational quotes so this is something I wanted to add because every morning when I walk out of the room, it’s a good reminder to be positive and look at the brighter side of life and it also shows my personality.

I have also painted the living room, a nice magnolia cream colour which I really like.  I am currently looking at different curtains, cushions and accessories to add to the living room.  This weekend I will move on to the kitchen and then to the bathroom and my goal is to have the whole place redecorated before the end of the year.

It’s a challenge because firstly, I have had to cut back on buying a lot of clothes that I would normally buy during this season and instead spend more money on paint, wallpaper and accessories for the home and secondly having to spend part of my weekends to decorate. I’ve had to change my weekend schedule a bit and not commit myself to do certain things or go to certain places just so I can focus a bit more on things at home, but this is the decisions we have to make in order to get things done!

Here are a few pictures of the latest additions to my hall way!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Saturday's evening look

Yesterday evening I attended the Godllywood Pledge Night and Feast of the Tabernacles in London.

The dress that I decided to wear was a dress that I had bought a few days before New Year's Eve last year. I bought it for a special event hosted at the beginning of the year but due to the change of the dress code, I didn't.

I saw it fitting to wear for an occasion like yesterday, which was like a gala night. I really do like this two toned grey glitter dress!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Back after a rejuvenating detox

So, I’m back on social media after a 3 week break away from all forms of social media and secular entertainment such as music and TV. I like to call it a spiritual detox! It was much needed and an awesome time to reflect and work on my relationship with myself, with God and with others. Without realizing, we can be so caught up with what’s going on in the world of entertainment, spending our free time or passing time on social media and neglect time for ourselves, our family and most importantly with God. Just because we are physically among people, doesn’t mean we are actually paying attention to them. Our bodies can be present and our minds elsewhere!

A lot of thoughts, attitudes and ideals are influenced by external factors and sometimes we can get lost and lose our own identity and start adopting attitudes or thoughts that don't originate from us. When I abstain from certain things for a while, I have a chance to  see just how my thinking has been, what has been influencing me, both positively and negatively as well upgrading myself to another level spiritually speaking by eradicating what is not good and filling myself with what is good for me.

The funny thing is despite not watching TV, listening to secular music or accessing my social networking sites, I was not bored, not even for a day! Life was still active but I didn’t miss those things. I spent a lot of time thinking, analysing recent events both good and bad, things I have achieved so far this year and things that I haven’t yet achieved and sought why I hadn’t’ achieved them as well as looking for new ways of doing things so I can achieve them before the end of the  year.

I caught up with a lot of work and had lots of me time around nature and at home. I slept early most nights, because I wasn’t up until late watching my favourite TV programs or catching up with news feeds on Facebook and Instagram!

I have a new mind-set, renewed spirit and looking forward to experiencing different things before the end of this year!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

My Autumn Sunday Look

Hello bloggers!

Autumn is my favourite season. I love being around autumn leaves and couldn't but take a picture among the leaves today!

Happy Sunday!


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Making time for yourself

Even with a busy life, we still can and should make time for ourselves. "Me-time" is really important to me.  Those who know me well know that I like to keep active and socialize as much as I can but I also like to chill and when I get the chance, have an afternoon nap and go to bed early at least once or twice  a week. I'm usually asleep by 9.30pm on Tuesdays and Sundays as they are the days when I am home early and try not to plan things for the evening. When I attend monthly workshops or an event on Tuesdays I move my weekday early night to another day on that particular week.

Thursdays are the days I like to separate for social activities. At the moment I'm attending fortnightly  contemporary dance classes on Thursday evenings. I am really enjoying the sessions. It's something new and challenging and I find it quite relaxing. It definitely helps me to unwind after a busy working week.

Fridays are my non working days which I like to keep free for catching up with the housework, studying, running errands and tying up loose ends.

My weekends are quite busy, especially in the morning and afternoon but I make sure to separate time for my family spending as much time as I can with them. Weekend is generally the best time for us all and Sundays afternoons are now spent at my mom's house having lunch or dinner.

When we take time out for ourselves we are actually doing good to our mental and physical health. Many women look run down, heavy, tired, complain a lot and are fed up with their routine and most of the time it's because they don't give themselves a break. They're always busy trying to take care of everyone and everything else but don't take care of themselves. Sometimes an early night, a trip to the cinema, a walk in the park, a session at the gym or exercise class can help you to relax, recharge your batteries and give you the time-out you need to re-focus.

Last night I went to the theatre with my mom. Initally I had invited my sister to come with me but as she had other plans I invited my mom. My mom works a lot and hardly makes time to do anything like this so this was a treat for her. In fact she couldn't remember the last time she went out. We had a really nice time and the play was great. It was called Hood: The Legend Continues and was centered around the story of Robin Hood in modern times. After the play we went to Nandos and then went home. Something so simple made a difference to her week and mine too!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Step back Sunday: Remebering my time at university

Ten years ago this week I moved to a new city to further my studies
at university. I was reminded of my experience today while speaking to 
two young ladies who have been like my little sisters over the years. 

I've known them since they were per-teens and it struck me just how much
time has flown by. Nadia is moving away this week to start her first 
year at university to study law and Starr is going into her final 
year. Both girls are smart and forward thinking and I believe they will do 
very well!
The transition from college to university can be overwhelming and make one feel 
apprehensive. When you move away from home to another city it makes you feel even 
more nervous because your now rolling solo and have a lot of adjusting to do but it's
 exciting all the same.You learn so much about yourself and learn who your real friends are. You meet  different people who will teach you a lot and you start to become independent. 

You have freedom, which can become your best friend or nemesis, depending on how
you use your new found freedom. You set your own rules, plan how your day goes,
 responsible for your own meals, and have the opportunity to mould the way you live
and study. A lot students choose to get caught up in the whole fresher's hype and 
party a lot and get drunk. Even after fresher's week, they spend at least 2 - 3 nights
a week going to nightclubs and drinking. I did this during my first semester at
university until I got bored of it. I did not know God during this time and even before 
I started going to church I started to lose interest in these things. They are many
ways to fun and a really good time without going to nightclubs and drinking excessively.

One thing new students need to remember, which I eventually did is to remember why you
are there - which is to get your degree, so make sure you make time to study and
find a balance between work and play. Oh and keep on top of your student budget!

Be careful with the company you keep and choose friends who you see have a the same
vision and outlook on life as you. A lot of people lose their identity just so they can
fit in with the crowd! Be yourself and don't allow what others are doing or how
they live to make you feel like you have to change to be like them.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The media's portrayal of women

I'm finally getting chance to continue sharing my experience from the women's equality event I attended on Tuesday. I am writing this as I sit in my mother's garden after a very delicious Sunday dinner. 

As I mentioned in my last video post, we women have a power to influence others and we must use it to make a positive impact in other women's lives. The event was more like a workshop because we all had to participate and share our views and ideas. There were more than 25 women of different age  groups and from different areas and backgrounds. We were encouraged to not judge each other's opinions or views and to allow each one to speak and express themselves without jumping in or trying to correct or even impose our own views on each other.

 I learned that we should not be ashamed to have our own opinions and views neither should we be afraid to voice them. Even if no one believes in what we believe in, we shouldn't compromise what we stand for or lower our standards. Women with high standards, morals and values are  greatly admired. They stand out from the crowd and although they face a lot of adversity and hostility from others because they are different, that doesn't stop them from being who they are. These women make the difference - and we need more women like this in our society. 

 Something that some of the women picked up on which I didn't realize at first was how older women are viewed as past their sell by date and viewed as not having anything to add in journalism, TV and film, music, certain job roles and positions in politics or society. They are indirectly and at times directly discriminated against and not taken seriously when in truth, mature women have accumulated a wealth of wisdom and invaluable experience over the years that they can pass on to younger women and the wider audience. Because they no longer look young and sexy, they are dismissed, again, showing how the media unfortunately favours beauty over brains and intellect. 

The opposite can be seen when it comes to males who are the same age as these older women. Have you noticed how veteran actors such as Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and George Clooney still get starring roles in blockbuster films and even have young women half their age as a love interest, but you don't see a lot of actresses their age getting big roles? 

That's why many women end up having plastic surgery and non surgical treatments to try and look young. They end up losing their identity and are allowing the media to dictate their self worth and value. The different ideas of how to positively campaign to promote women growing old gracefully and how they shouldn't be judged because of their age or because they've lost their youthful looks was interesting. I really hope some of the ideas are implemented.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Friday's Casual Look

Wearing the grey skirt again, this time with one of my favourite tops I bought in Manhattan last year and a pair of  black Nike's from my last trip to New York :)

Happy Friday!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

My first week back at work.

Last week was my first week back at work after 3 months away! It felt strange being back in the building, especially because the reception part has been completely renovated.

 Being away from work for 3 months was a risk I took because I was told that there was no guarantee that there would be a job for me when I returned. However, I am not afraid to take risks and I believe in a God who will provide all my needs so I wasn't worried. In fact, two weeks before my return to the UK, I received an email informing me that there was a position available in another department. I was offered the role and it's a higher grade than my previous role and is a step up from what I had been doing for the past 18 months with the company.

Throughout my placement in New York, I had purposed inside me that there was no way I was going back to England  to the same routine, same working pattern and standard of living. I really had a work life balance that I had not really experienced before and loved having weekends off to chill, do fun things and not be running errands, catching up with the housework and laundry! Nah ah!

I decided that I was no longer going to work 6 days a week as I had been used to for nearly 2 years; working full time  Monday to Friday with my employer and spending Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, doing freelance work. I spoke to my new manager and asked if I could work 4 days a week and have Friday's off. They had no problems with this and said yes. I've also changed my working pattern, starting at 8.20am and finishing at 4.50pm.

It's only been a week but I really am happy I made this decision. It will not cause a detriment to my financial life but on the contrary allows me to develop the freelance work I do and I can dedicate Fridays to doing work for my clients and growing my business more as well as doing extra work in the evenings during the week. I can also make proper time to do the house work, so when it comes to the weekend, I can be more involved with the activities going on in my church, spend more time with family, visit friends and chill, really enjoying the weekend.

Last Friday I spent the morning doing housework and laundry  and in the afternoon I did a bit of studying and doing things related to my freelance work. It was good because at the weekend I didn't have to do any housework or laundry because it had all been done.

I am not all about living a life just to work, pay bills and die! I am going places, have goals I want to achieve and working towards having financial independence and a work life balance, but for that I have to make time for my project and it meant having to change my working pattern and reduce the hours I worked which in the future I will reap the benefits of.

Sunday Style

Today I wore this lovely dress that my aunt gave me as a gift when I went to visit her in Texas last month.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Sunday Style

Yesterday I wore this dress that my auntie gave me as a gift when I went to visit her in Dallas, Texas, earlier this month.

It has an African print style to it and i love how it fits me nicely.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Friday's Casual Look

Hi everyone, it's Friday! Woohoo!

I will be dedicating Friday's to different casual looks because I finally get to wear casual wear on Fridays and not work outfits!

Today I didn't even plan on wearing what I wore. I had to change the black trousers I was wearing as I had been doing a bit of cleaning in them and simply put on this skirt as it was one of the first things I saw and thought hey, let's make it work because I was short on time.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Saturday, 8 August 2015

My American Adventure: Visiting Texas, Pt 3

We went to Dallas and I was shown the spot where former president John F. Kennedy was fatally shot.

We also went right to the top of the Reunion Tower where you can see the whole of Dallas. It was so beautiful and I was in awe of how big the city is. I could see the lakes, prison, corporate buildings, hotels, high ways and bridges. Dallas is a big city with a lot going on. While you're at the top, the building rotates  round so you see the whole city without having to move. I thought that was pretty cool.

Afterwards we went around for a while then went to get something to eat. We were driving around for almost 2 hours because of traffic. It's very busy and after a certain time, you can find yourself stuck in traffic for a long time due to congestion.

We ate at Red Lobster. I've seen the restaurant  in New York and Maryland but never went. I thought it was a restaurant that served fish dishes only but they have meat dishes such as steak too.

The prices are decent and you definitely get your moneys worth. I couldn't even finish the appetizers in time for the main course. I had lobster pizza, cheese biscuit and salad for starters. For my main course, I had steak and shrimp with mash potato and fries. It was gorgeous. I absolutely loved it.

You're fed well here in Texas but you have to be careful. If you're not very active and if you don't have a gym membership or have exercise equipment in your house and fail to use it regularly, you'll be in trouble with the scales lol.

I couldn't even squeeze the desert in so took it home but didn't eat it until the next day because I still had the chocolate cake to eat from my first night in Texas, which took my 3 days to eat due to always being full when it came to desert time lol.

When we arrived home in the evening, we were visited by Tony and Sheila, friends of my aunt and uncle. Tony was also one of my dad's best friend's during their teenage years. They're so lovely and lived in Bristol, in the UK before moving to the States 8 years ago.

I've met quite a lot of people who used to live in the UK but moved to the US when they were presented with better opportunities. They are all doing so well and have achieved a lot in a short space of time.

 A place doesn't necessarily bring the success, you can achieve it anywhere you decide to sow you're seed and watering it by willing to work hard until you reap the fruits. I do agree that certain countries provide better opportunities for development depending on the area you want to establish a career in and for these people, US had these opportunities that the UK at the time didn't have for them.

My American Adventure: Visitng Texas, Pt 2

It was extremely hot. Where we were was 39 degrees Celsius (106f). There were hardly any people around and my aunty explained that when it's very hot, most people stay in doors.

As we were driving towards downtown Fort Worth, I noticed that there were no pavements, just wide roads and high ways. It's very difficult to walk around the suburbs and to the city due to limited side walks and local shops being quite far. Public transport is scarce, so many people have to drive. If you do not drive, you will struggle to get around. The bus that goes to the airport takes 2-3 hours, but it only takes 30 minutes in the car! That's because it goes all around before it gets to its destination. Buses are not frequent.

The area reminds me of the countryside in England. I noticed that part of the grass was green and the other part light brown. There hasn't been any rain for two months so it's very dry at the moment. Grass in the gardens are green because people water them during the night and in the day.

Our first stop when we arrived in downtown Fort Worth was the Water Gardens. My aunt used to hang out there with my uncle and my dad when they were university students in the 80s. It was pretty cool. Afterwards, we went to old Fort Worth that still has the old cobbles and cowboy feeling to the area. I was surrounded by deep southern accents and people dressed country style haha.

Because it was so hot, we didn't stay outside for too long and went to visit family friends and I met my lovely cousin in law for the first time. They live in a beautiful and quiet neighbourhood. We stayed for quite a few hours and was treated to taco salad and corn bread, which was AMAZING. I loved it and will definitely be making that when I go back home.

I had great conversations with them and learned so much. I love how friendly people are and how at home they make you feel. It was like I had known them for a long time.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

My American Adventure: Visiting Texas Pt 1

I woke up at 6 o clock this morning. Very early considering that I didn't go to sleep until nearly 1am. When I sleep somewhere new, I always wake up early.
I had a nice breakfast, cheese omelette filled with meat (sausage and bacon) and mushrooms. I also had fruit salad, bread and tea! I spoke a lot with my aunt and uncle as this was this first time that I had been with them for a long time.
It was nice catching up with them. We Skyped some of my cousins and my other aunt and uncle who live in South Africa. 

I learned how my aunt and uncle as well as my dad, left Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) and how they came to live in the US and UK. They were very young (in their late teens) and during that time was apartheid. It was very difficult for young black people to get into university so the only way was to leave the country and seek higher education opportunities abroad.

They had to smuggle out of Rhodesia and escape to Botswana. My dad was actually taken to join the guerilla war by the whites who were fighting against the blacks. Before he actually joined them he managed to run away. My grandfather who worked on the trains, managed to get my dad to Botswana. He worked for a while and came across an organization that was sponsoring young people from Rhodesia to study in the UK. He was accepted on the program and travelled to the UK and did a one year diploma course. While he was there, my aunt helped him apply for  university in the States because she had managed get on to a program there, along with my uncle. He studied and worked in the US for about 6 years before going back to the UK to settle.

My aunt and uncle remained in Texas and in total, have lived here for 30 years .
It was really interesting to hear them share their stories. I learned a lot, especially about perseverance and not being afraid to take risks in order to succeed.
They took me to places where they used to hang out with my dad when they were students and showed me around downtown Fortworth.

Before I left the house I decided I wasn't going to check my messages, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp or email address during the day. I took advantage of this to be focused on my family and what was going on around me. I went the whole day, from 9am until 10pm, without using the internet on my phone. They are moments when we have to take time out from social media and interactive more with people around you.

To be continued.....

This week's scarf look

I didn't bother making a fuss styling my hair really nice yesterday because I was spending most of it travelling to visit family in Texas.

I decided to wear one of my favorite scarves. It's good if you want have a protective hairstyle to protect your hair from the wind or rain. In New York it was hot but when I arrived in Nashville to transfer to Dallas, it was raining so I am glad I chose this look.

My American Adventure: Trip down south.

Yesterday I travelled to Texas to visit my aunt and uncle for a few days. They have lived here for 30 years and my dad used to stay with them when he was attending school over here.

This is my first time visiting Texas. I've heard a lot about the state but I will see for myself what Dallas is all about.

The first surprise I got when I arrived here was to learn just how hot it is right now. It's currently 39 degrees Celsius (106F), which is VERY hot. I was just getting used to 32-33 degrees consistently in New York lol.

When I arrived we went to a Mexican restaurant called Rosas Cafe. It was pretty inside and outside the place and food was very nice. I enjoyed it.

I'll be sharing more of my experiences in Texas, stay tuned 😊

Monday, 3 August 2015

Monday's look

My American Adventure: Work life balance

I had a really nice relaxing weekend. After a busy week of working and finalising certain things as my adventure slowly comes to an end sooner, I was in need of a quieter and relaxing weekend to unwind and recharge my batteries for Monday morning, back in the office.

My work life balance has upgraded since being in New York. Back in England I generally work 6 days a week because I work full time Monday to Friday and on Saturdays I do freelance work for private clients. Sunday is the only official day I have off, but sometimes I work in the afternoon after church if I have deadlines or extra work, which is usually once or twice a month. Evenings are the time I can unwind and rest, after the housework and cooking. But life isn't just about work work work and I refuse to be a slave to it. Yes, I need to work and make money to live comfortably but we are not born to merely work, pay bills and die. There is more to life than this.

 I love not having to work weekends here and even having a day off in the week too because I have been able to rest, take care of household chores on my rest day so my weekend is free to go sightseeing relax at the beach, spend time with friends and Skype friends and family. I haven't been agitated or rushing around trying to cram everything in like I would back home. I am currently reviewing my routine back home and seeing where I can make adjustments so I can have a proper work life balance and make more time for the things that truly matter without causing a detriment to my work life and finances.

Saturday I went on the ferry with my friend Divya to view the Statue of Liberty.

Sunday I played volleyball with local youth in the neighbourhood after church and then went to the beach to chill out.

Friday, 31 July 2015

My American Adventure: Learning from my American friends

I was thinking about all the amazing and very nice people I've met so far in New York, especially those who I have had the privilege to work with and befriend and I realized that hardly any of them have complained or moaned about life or it's misfortunes. They just get on with things.

 In England, I'm used to people complaining about everything, from the weather, to the government to the fact that there still single or they don't have enough money or opportunities, but here it's been different. The complaints I've heard are from the clients (that's why they come to us in the first place) but from my colleagues, those I've ate and sat with, they haven't uttered a word of complaint. If anything, they've all had positive things to pass on, sharing their life experiences, aspirations for the future and so forth.

 We've had some pretty cool conversations and even though we have spoken about controversial topics it's been constructive comments. In fact, I realized through them just how much of a complainer I really was and even in past and recent blog posts, I complained through my writing, something that makes me feel uncomfortable just thinking about it now. I don't know if it's because of their maturity, professionalism or part of their character but the people I'm around are very cautious and careful about what they say and comment on. If they don't have anything to say they don't open their mouth. They'd rather keep quiet than speak random things.

 I really respect them and it has helped me to change and I noticed that I can ramble on about something for ages and by that time it's lost its meaning or structure (if that's even the right words describe lol). Through refusing to talk about the current issues that have been highlighted in the media in relation to Sandra Bland and others, my fellow black people have taught me that there's no point commenting on these things because 1) this has been going on for many years and nothing has changed, its just that the media is only now deciding to broadcast it and 2) unless what we discuss is going to actually change things why open our mouth and speak? It only causes heartache, anger, frustration and hate. We are adding more fuel to the fire. The best thing is to pray and and educate ourselves and our children on the best way to behave, handle such situations if they were to ever happen to us and live our lives honestly and carefully.

 I wrote a controversial status on my Facebook page a few weeks ago about homicide among the black community and a friend of mine advised me to remove it because of the unwanted attention I would get. I did get a few comments before I removed it and I saw that the status did cause a bit of an argument among those who are my friends, not agreeing with comments made etc. The truth is, I had no business putting my opinion about such a topic on Facebook because that was not the correct platform to express my views. It didn't even concern 80% of the people on my facebook and what would I achieve? If I were at a conference or event where these issues were being addressed and raised then yes, that would be appropriate because it was the right place and time. I

I'm learning sooo much from my wise American friends and colleagues and I'm gutted that soon this adventure will come to an end. I want August to go as slow as

Thursday, 30 July 2015

My American Adventure: Busy days.

I've been so busy lately it's been hard to keep up with the blog posts. I'm writing this while on the train to Brooklyn because I know it's the only time I will have.

New York City is very much like London, busy and fast paced. Deli's and mini marts and some coffee bars are open 24 hours and supermarkets, shopping centers and diners open early and close late at night. You're never stranded because you'll find something that is open. I like that because its very convenient, however I can't help but think about all the workers who have to wake up early in the morning before dawn and arrive home very late at night to keep these places running. We no longer live in a 9-5 working world.

 I love how my hours vary. When we work out in the community, I am only required to work from 9.45am until 3pm. Then a day in the office is 10.30am to 5.30pm or 11am to 6pm and sometimes until 7pm. It allows me to be flexible in attending the different church services I attend during the week as well as doing things in the morning before I leave out or doing things after work.

 I work in the City during the week but in the evenings and at the weekends I've had the luxury of chilling in the suburb, going to the beach or lake and experiencing the quieter life in Long Island. I would definitely prefer to live in the suburbs and just commute to work in the City. it's not that bad, it's only a 40 minute train journey.

 I've been working in different areas in Brooklyn for the past few weeks and it's been great. Brooklyn is so diverse and ridiculously big. I love Brooklyn. There are so many different communities. I particularly like to observe the Jewish community. Yesterday, while I was walking down Franklin Avenue, I noticed that the area was quite hippy and vintage. As soon as I crossed the the road, still on Franklin Avenue, I entered the hood lol. I was like "wow"!

You see nice big beautiful townhouses and brownstone buildings and a few blocks down your in the projects! One extreme to the other, on the same avenue. The people in the area equally nice. As long as you keep yourself to yourself you're generally fine.

If you have a good job and source of income, you live comfortably but if you don't, you really struggle. Working on the legal clinics has given me an insight into this and for those who depend solely on government benefits or who earn what we would class as the minimum wage, you barely make ends meet. It makes me understand why people sell on the streets and do certain things. It also helps me understand why in certain areas like the projects, people appear cold and angry. They are in despair, dissatisfied with their situation and don't know what to do.

 I've been alarmed at how many adults are illiterate and as a result cannot get a job that will not pay them pitons. Homelessness is on the rise and it breaks my heart seeing elderly women and men on the street begging for money to eat. I commend the UK government and its efforts to protect its citizens. We really are "spoilt" compared to the help that is offered here to disadvantaged here. Yes they do receive assistance but it's not as much as we do in the UK. Sometimes while sat with a client, I find myself saying to myself "if you were in England that would be illegal, the authorities wouldn't be allowed to do that or you would be allowed to claim this."

My Wednesday look

Yesterday I saw just how limited my work wardrobe has become. I no longer have a lot of the clothes I originally bought for my trip to New York and those that I still have, a lot of them don't fit me properly due to weight loss (woohoo).

I really don't like to wear the same outfit over and over again so I had to put my creativity thinking cap on and see which items of clothing I haven't worn together which may match.

I rarely wear this top so I decided to wear it with my favourite blue trousers. I think they matched quite well and I created a smart casual look for work.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

My American Adventure: Second day in the Bronx pt 2

The people I worked with today were all friendly and down to earth. I have been really blessed and I always look forward to seeing them. Sometimes we rotate and don't always work with the same team. I had worked with three of them before but the other two women I met for the first time. I got on very well with them and we spent a lot of time talking about our experiences, what made us decide to become lawyers etc.

 Twinkle is from the Philippines and has been living in the US for about 4 years. She worked as corporate accountant and auditor for many years before deciding to become a lawyer a few years ago. She is a hard worker and so open. We had interesting conversations.

Shayshana is a mother of two who is currently working as a teacher and has done so for over 10 years. She inspired me a lot. She failed the bar exam 3 times and went into teaching. She always had a dream to become a lawyer and last year decided to do the New Bar Exam again and this time she passed. She didn't give up in her dream.

 I have learned so much from my colleagues and it's been interesting to see that most of the time, I am the youngest person at the clinics. Life experience and transferrable skills that you acquire working in different jobs and sectors helps a lot, especially when dealing with people and managing case load.

 After we finished the legal clinic at 3pm, I decided to attend the 4pm service at the Universal Church in the Bronx as it wasn't far from where I had been working. I walked around the neighbourhood for a bit and I was amazed at the sizes of The Projects.

 The buildings were huge and they were a lot of them. I saw projects across the road from each other, on one corner, then another one on the corner. I've worked in Brooklyn, Queens and Harlem, but was to see projects just like the ones I was seeing in the Bronx. The church is across the road from one and I took this picture as I was leaving the service.

 I find people in the area to be generally nice. Even if they do have a lot of attitude, a lot of it is down to lack of education and frustration at life and their situation. When I say education, I am not merely referring to academic education from school but education with manners, communicating with people, politeness, showing common courtesy. I have noticed that a lot of people didn't have this and it's probably the way they were raised.

Most people are a product of their childhood and you can clearly see. Six weeks ago I would have been annoyed with people like this but my attitude and outlook has changed. when I asked one of the staff at the Children's Center who were hosting us for directions to Webster Avenue, she replied "don't you have a phone? Look on google." She had been very nice to us earlier and was even talking to me and Twinkle but later her mood changed. I remembered her saying something about having a health condition so I assumed that maybe she was in pain at that time or she was tired because it was drawing towards the end of the day. She did look fed up so maybe something happened which annoyed her and took it out of whoever was there.

 The more I am around different people with different w and upbringings, the more I am understanding them and not taking offence or reading much into their responses when they appear rude or inconsiderate. I am maturing.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My American Adventure: Second day in the Bronx

I was back in the Bronx last Friday for another legal clinic. This time we served the South Bronx area. It wasn't that far from Manhattan, only a 20 minute train journey. As soon as I left the train station I thought, "yes, this is the Bronx I've been hearing about!" It wasn't even 9 o clock in the morning yet, but the streets were so busy, loud with a lot of people around.

  They were a lot of people shouting and speaking so loud. I could tell that most of them were either drunk or high on drugs! My colleague who is from the area, later confirmed what I saw when he was describing things I will see in the area. That didn't bother me to be honest and I was still looking forward to spending the day in the Borough.

As it was early and we weren't due to start until 9.45 I decided to get something to drink. I had breakfast before I left for work but I was extremely tired as I only slept for 3 and a half hours. I went to a comedy night in Brooklyn with some friends and didn't arrive home until after 1.45am, due to the train times! I slept around 2.30am and woke up at 6am. I'm an early bird and like to be in bed by 11pm so this was way out of my routine and I felt it. I needed a large strong coffee.

 They have these food trucks, which I like, so bought a coffee and a donut from here. It did the trick because I survived the working day without wanting to fall asleep or feeling exhausted. I think being busy helped too. The majority of the people in the area seemed nice and friendly. They smiled at me and said "good morning" while I walked to the venue.

  I was one of the first ones there so I just had my coffee and donut and spoke to Elliot, my Puerto Rican colleague who I really like to talk to. From where we were, I could see a lot of large blocks of apartments, similar to high rise council flats in England. Elliott explained to me that they are called The Projects. He said its a very hot area, meaning a lot of criminal activity such as drug dealing, goes on there and that's why there are police patrolling the area all the time.
I've been to different areas in Brooklyn, Jamaica Queens and Harlem, but am yet to see projects like the ones I saw in the Bronx. They were so many! I started to think about the people who live in the area and how many problems they must be facing. Many are probably misjudged because of where they live. Some end up living a life of crime because its all they've seen and known growing up. It was heart breaking seeing young girls and boys walking round acting so thuggish and with tattoos all over their bodies that looked like gang affiliated tattoos.

I guessed that we were going to get a lot of clients with serious legal issues and I wasn't wrong. All of the cases I dealt with were really heartbreaking. We do consultations for 45 minutes each but spent nearly an hour and half with the first client because of the severity and complexity of her issues. She cried a lot but I had to be tough not to show emotions because two people crying will not get us anyway. I've really learned to keep emotions under control because they can cloud my judgement when making decisions or being focused on how best my help the person. All I can say is that it's really only God who has kept her alive up until this point from all that she's been through.

Other clients had issues that I've only ever watched in films about life in the ghetto and the hood. Having someone in front of you going through it shows that these problems never went away and they very much still exist today and even on a worse scale. They're people living in grave conditions and not by choice, in the country known as "the land of a free".

The highlight of the day was with one of clients who had a consumer protection issue. Beforehand we were told to be careful and call for back up if needed because he supposedly had a mental health problem and was "acting strange". Well he was one of the most organised and well prepared clients having all documents relating to his issue for years. He said "momma didn't raise no fool!" That made me laugh.
During the consultation he stopped and asked me, "how do you control your speech?" He had a speech impediment which is why people thought he was acting strange because of hand gestures and ways he forces the words out. I know because I used to stamp my foot and bang my hand on the table when trying to get words out. My eyes and mouth would twitch or I'd move my head in a certain way to try and get the words out. So to others you look strange, but you're not. You're just trying to find ways to speak fluently. It takes one to know one!

None of my other colleagues knew I had a speech impediment up until this point because of the control, some assumed I was just nervous or limited in my vocabulary LOL! Anyway, I gave him tips that work for me and it was nice to be able to share and give some sort of help to someone about something which I always held as a disgrace and shame for me!
To be continued..

Thursday, 16 July 2015

My American Adventure: My first day in the Bronx, pt 2

I worked with Polly during our time in the Bronx. I enjoyed working with her and she taught me so much. She was admitted to the New Jersey bar in the 1980s and worked as an attorney in New Jersey for several years  before she got married and had children in her 30s. She mainly worked on Bankruptcy and personal injury cases.

When she fell pregnant with her first son, a year after he was born, she fell pregnant with her second child. She made the decision to be a housewife and raise her children. Her husband is a successful restaurant business owner and her brother is a partner in a corporate law firm that has offices in New York and other States so money was no problem for them. She was a housewife until her eldest son turned 17. She then decided, at the age of 50 to go back to practicing law on a part time basis. By then her licence had expired and she had to renew it again, as well as take the New York State Bar exam to be admitted to practice law in New York.

 I respect and admire her for the sacrifice she made, to put my career on hold for over a decade. I also admired her decision to go back to practicing law at the age she did and study again to ensure she was up to date with the law.

She told me some bizarre stories of how it was like practicing law in the 80s and 90s and she advised me to make sure that I practice an area of law I will really love, one  that will suit my personality and that will bring our the best in me.

A lot of the lawyers that I have been privileged to meet and work with since I've been in New York, either started practicing law when they were in their 30s and 40s or took a long break from their career and went back into law in their late 40s and early 50s. It's very inspiring for me and once again shows that you really can start again and make it at any age! Who says you have to be young, fresh out of college or university?

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

My American Adventure: My first day in the Bronx, pt 1

Today I visited the Bronx for the first time. The Bronx reminds me of  music artists like Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe because they come from there. I caught the 6 train from Manhattan and all I could think about was Jennifer Lopez's first album which was called "on the 6" lol. I used to be a big music fan of hers back in the day.

I've heard different opinions about the borough so I was interested to find out for myself what it's really like. I had always heard that the Bronx has a strong Puerto Rican presence, and is quite dangerous with different gangs and people had bad attitude.

We had legal clinics scheduled in the Schuylerville area.  I researched the area before I left the apartment and I found out that Schuylerville was a middle / working class area. It took me 2 hours to get there because I was coming from Long Island which is a 40 minute commute to Manhattan. From Manhattan it takes about 1 hour to get to the Bronx, but with the waiting times and walking to the venue, it took 2 hours in total from Long Island. According to google maps, it's only 30 minutes by car from Long Island!

The distance didn't bother me at all and the journey didn't seem long. When you love what you do and you are passionate about it, you don't even care about the distance and other factors. But when you dread what you do or it doesn't fulfill you, even a 30 minute journey seems so long and tiresome.

The area was very quiet.  They were a lot of houses and cars around. As I walked closer to the venue, I could see shops, offices and a diner. There was a mixture of people; black, white and Hispanic.

I arrived earlier than everyone else so waited around for a bit. The council member who organized the legal clinic in the area wanted to take a picture with us before he went to a meeting. He was a very nice and hospitable and so was his staff.

The first client arrived early so she waited around for a while. She was an 83 year old woman and looked sooo good for her age. I thought she was in her 60s at first. She was telling me about her hobbies and she seems to have more of a social life than I do lol. She plays tennis a lot and is really enjoying her life. After assessing her income and assets we realized that she earned way above the threshold to receive legal assistance from us.

The law firm only provides free legal assistance to people on low income. She wasn't happy about this and I felt bad for her. However, she had more than enough to pay a lawyer for advice, but of course she wanted it for free.

It was the same situation with the second client. He was ever so nice and after we told him that we couldn't assist him, he still stayed around for a bit to talk to us about his life. He is originally from Sweden and moved to the US in his 30's. His now retired.

I was worried that we would get more client's who had a comfortable financial life and we would have to keep turning them away. After all it was a middle / working class area. However the other clients we saw were eligible for consultation.

The cases I dealt with today were complex but interesting. In terms of development and productivity, I think today was the best day I've had on my placement to far. I led the consultations which boosted my confidence and I learned so much. The clients were so down to earth and friendly which made is so much easier.

They all had a story to tell and previously had great careers and earned a lot of money. But due to  sickness in the family, the effects of hurricane Sandy and having to resign from their jobs, their finances deteriorated and legal issues arose as a result.

I felt like I had made a positive impact in regards to their situation because they will get the help they need to resolve the issues which will go in their favour. It is rewarding when you help relieve a person fromdespair, stress and hardship.