Books That Have Changed My Life For The Better.

For someone who reads so much, I realised that I have been utterly selfish in not sharing some absolutely delightful gems that have kept me sane on London’s public transport over the years. From more practical advice driven books to books that have caused strangers to ask me if I’m okay (think Kim Kardashian’s ugly crying on the tube), here are just a few literary pieces that have in part, changed my life for the better. I hope at least one of these pieces can inspire you as much as they have me.

'Little Black Book' by Otegha Uwagba.
Size doesn’t matter, in terms of books anyway... The Little Black Book has been floating around Instagram over the last year or so, firstly because of it’s millennial pink covering with a minimalist font, and secondly because of how darn good it is! The little black book does what it says on the tin and more. It is a brief and straight to the point book that shares a wealth of information in regards to building your brand so to speak, with brilliant chapters on marketing, social media and even how one would present themselves, a true must-have for the working modern woman.

'The Alchemist' by Paolo Coelho
Out of all the books on this brief list, Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ is probably the most well known. A literary jewel that takes you on a pilgrimage through Spain and Africa, offering the reader snippets of concrete advice through the spinning of metaphors, twists and turns and beautifully descriptive text. I remember hungrily reading this back in 2015, turning each page furiously on the Jubilee line at 8:15am on my way to work. It brought an intense sense of peace to my heart and it was a solid reminder to keep on keeping on in life, using whatever the world serves us as a springboard rather than an obstacle. It’s a fairly short and easy to read book and as such, I’d highly recommend it to you if you haven’t already read it.

'Refinery29: Style Stalking' by Piera Gelardi & Christene Barberich.
Rarely do I read or buy fashion or beauty books as I find them too ‘pretty’ to read properly. I like my books transportable and unassuming, but I received style stealing as a gift and it has remained one of my solid favourites as it balances informative writing about how personal style is to each one of us, with helpful hints and tips (complete with images - that are diverse in their subject, think plus size women, Black Women, Asian women, lantinx women!) on how to wear certain colours, patterns, pieces effectively and getting the most wear per £.

'Architects Pocket Book'  by Jonathan Hetreed, Charlotte Baden-Powell & Ann Ross.
This one is very specific I suppose but in all of my architectural education and career so far, this is the book I pick up almost every day in the studio. From u-value calculations to average door sizes this book has all the basics you’d need from a small ‘pocket size’ book. I love how portable it is and I actually have a copy at home on my personal desk as well as beside me on my desk at work, and I’m constantly flicking through it to remind myself of basic kitchen counter heights, and bedroom storage widths. A true must have if you work in the Architectural or building design industry.

'My Friend Fear' by Meera Lee Patel.
I was kindly gifted ‘My Friend Fear’ by Penguin Books during a period of intense fear, hopelessness, and depression and although it didn’t obviously cure aforementioned depression, it did provide a warmth and a comfort during times where it felt like my head was swimming against an impenetrable tide of darkness. From the beautiful water coloured pages to the soft kind wisdom presented, My Friend Fear felt like.. well a friend in a book. The kind of friend who reminds you of your worth in dire times, the type of friend that offers a warm all-encompassing embrace, the type of friend you’d want during a tough period. 

'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini.
I read the Kite Runner during a turbulent period of my life back in February or March of this year, when the ground was covered in a soft sprinkling of white snow, the air was bracing and unfriendly and mornings were a blur of blackness, literally and metaphorically. I found the book in one of my local charity shops for £1, after fingering through the pages gingerly, the book came home with me and I had left it on my desk until one morning  I decided to put it in my handbag for commute reading. I’m not quite sure where to start with this important piece of written gold, but what I can say is that it shook me to my very core. I can put up my hands (rather shamefully) and day that I don’t know a great deal about what is happening in the Middle East at the moment and why, but the Kite Runner, although based on the Afghanistan civil war sheds a bright light on what people are going through and it humanises what I believe western media dehumanises. The story follows our protagonist Ali through his childhood till adulthood, with his younger years rocked by the Afghan war, he and his father find themselves as refugees in America and the stories surrounding Amir, his friend Hassan and his father, honestly broke me. Even after crying for days once I had finished the book, I could not stop thinking about it, about wars that we are so blind to, about refugees who are putting everything on the line to ensure theirs and their children’s safety. I was angry with the world for a while, I was disgusted, I was furious and I think that is what a good book should do to you, it should mobilise you, it should cause you to think, it should illuminate and expand, and Khaled Hosseini did all that and more in The Kite Runner. If there’s a single book you choose to read from this list, let it be this one, my friends.

How could I write a post on the literature that has changed my life for the better without including my bible? As an angry judgemental Christian, turned devout atheist, turned open-minded normal Christian. It has been quite the spiritual journey for me (something I will potentially dive into on another post). After delving deeper into my faith, I decided it was time to buy my first study bible to really get to grips with the theological aspects of the Christian faith and it has been so interesting, not only from a faith perspective but also from a historical perspective. This ESV version breaks down the story behind each book, the testaments, and even explores the Hebrew and Latin meaning of certain words that one would come across in the Bible. If you’re delving deeper in your Christian walk then I’d heartily recommend this bible as a solid ‘all-rounder’.

Have you read any of the books above? What are your must read books? PS If you'd like to see what's currently on my bookshelf, please do connect with me on Goodreads.



Part Of My Lived Experience As A Black Woman In The UK | #BlackHistoryMonth

October marks the UK’s Black History Month, and For the last few months, I mulled over what I wanted my contribution to be. I knew I wanted to produce pieces of writing that would be transient, informative, engaging and above all, completely honest in every aspect. My four pinnacle posts for BHM will be a mixture of my documented experience and personal musings, but today’s post will briefly look into my personal lived experience as a black woman in the United Kingdom
My eyes have seen a lot and my heart has felt a lot. 27 years as a visibly black Nigerian woman in the UK will either make you or break you, but resilience is in the makeup of my DNA. I look at myself in the mirror, really taking in what I see and feel. The first thing I see is my skin; shiny hazelnut brown, dappled with the remnants of the afternoons' sun, shadows playing on the surface. My face is oval, surrounded by a mass of thick zig zag and pencil-thin coils, half brushed out, half squashed by my satin bonnet. My eyes are bright orbs of smoky quartz, expressive eyes that always, always, always give away how I’m really feeling. My mouth, thick lips, pink, purple and flecked with brown - melanin. My nose, the cause of my childhood bullying, the culmination of my blackness, my ‘Jackson 5 nostrils’, and not so affectionately called ‘channel tunnel nostrils’ during school. Without really knowing or understanding, I grew up with a deep internalized disdain for the parts of me that reflected my West African origins. I remember searching online for nose jobs at the age of 15, and wondering if it was possible to slim down my lips to a size that was deemed appropriate by western standards of beauty (ironic now I realise, as big lips are the 'in' thing). It has taken years of self-reflection, honest open conversations in safe spaces, deep friendship, and a lot of frustration to unlearn all the damage caused. I still have a long way to go, but I’m on the right track, breathing in radical self-love and breathing out an authentic unapologetic version of myself. Instead of feeling self-conscious of wearing my hair out, I free my fro’, feeling my kinky hair between my fingers and I revel in it. In summer, instead of hiding from the sun for fear of getting darker, I bask in the suns gentle kisses on my skin, embracing the warmer richer shade my melanin produces. Instead of avoiding lipstick for fear of accentuating my features, I pull out bright reds, pinks, purples and I wear them on my lips with pride.
Navigating My Blackness In The World.
For a long time. For a very long time, I disliked myself. My skin tone, my nose, my lips, my hair, the physicality’s that defined me as a black woman. I realised as a teenager that I couldn’t shake off what the world saw when it looked at me, neither could I change the way I looked.  From being followed in high-end shops by Male security guards with Yoruba first names to having to police my tone, how I walk, how I talk for fear of being labeled as ‘sassy’, ‘outspoken’, 'the angry black woman'. It was at aged 19 at university that I really understood how ‘different’ I was. Studying Architecture in Lincoln a tiny city in the Midlands, after growing up in multicultural London was a huge shock, but not as big as the shock I received when I realised that I was in a bubble of safety in London. Lincoln was the first place I was repeatedly called a N*****. Most of my assailants would shout the slur at me whilst running or from moving cars, but one evening as I went to visit a sick friend, a middle-aged white man decided to call me a ‘fucking n*****’ and usually I would avoid confrontation, but this time I walked up to him quietly and stood almost nose to nose with him daring him to say it again to my face. He cowered mumbling over and over again that he didn’t say anything. I laughed a manic laugh and screamed: “of course you didn’t!”. It was also in Lincoln I was kicked out of a pub, for and I quote ‘not drinking alcohol’, my friends at the time all white, stayed in the pub as they were of course allowed to and I walked home alone, terrified, humiliated and feeling very small and very lost. It was an incident that I will never shake off, even as I write this, the emptiness I felt that evening resonates to every part of my soul and I sit and wonder, why, oh why do we as humans treat each other so badly because of cultural, ethnic and physical differences? At university, I realised that black culture is cool, but actually being black isn't and it made me think a lot about performative allyship. 
Navigating Blackness In Blogging.
I’ve been running In My Sunday Best for a little over 8 years now, and as it’s grown, so have I. The more entrenched I’ve gotten into the influencer industry, the more I’ve almost torn my hair out in sheer disdain. From a severe lack of representation, particularly plus size women of all ethnicities, to brands behaving questionably. The blogging sphere is a tricky one to understand and a lot of the time it feels like black influencers are shouting into the void, but one thing I will say is great, is the sheer amount of support and love black influencers have for each other, and the excitement to build each other up. My platform is considerably small, but I tirelessly seek out talented underrated black influencers of all following sizes to big up and share, because I truly believe in the saying ‘when I eat, my sisters eat too’. For a long time, I struggled to see women who looked like me, who faced the same struggles I did, represented in the blog world but whilst we still have a long way to go, it’s great to see black content creators, particularly those with smaller followings absolutely doing big things with brands. Blogging actually opened my eyes to my own privileges in the black community, most brands are more likely to work with black bloggers who are thin, lighter skinned and more 'palatable' by western standards for their audience, and I can put my hand up and most definitely say I fall into this category. There are tonnes of darker skinned POC bloggers, non-binary bloggers, disabled bloggers, underrepresented bloggers who work harder than I do and get no shine, and as someone with a little bit of privilege, I think it's my duty to uplift these people. 
Navigating Blackness In Careers.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky this far not to have experienced any direct racism (that I know of) from colleagues or directors. However, working as a black woman in a field that is dominated (98%) by white males is never easy. One situation that stands out to me all of these years, was when I was required to undertake a survey of a pub in Southampton. I arrived at 9:00am on the dot to do the photographic and measured survey to be met with the irritable manager of the aforementioned pub. I took her disdain and unhelpfulness in my stride, eager to get the job done so I could get back to London in time for lunch. The pub was empty except for a middle-aged couple who were drinking beer... at 9:00am, but I digress. I began to photograph some structural columns, making notes on my floorplans to adjust the sizes I had previously drawn, when the man began yelling at me to stop taking photos, I walked over to the couple, showed my work details and told them I was doing a survey. The man told me to “fuck off and stop taking photos”, I replied exasperated, with an eye roll, that I was doing my job, he then got up and threatened me with violence, exclaiming that people 'like me' were taking his jobs etc - the usual spiel. Now, readers, this is where I lost it and I won’t type the exact words I said because I’m a child of God and I’m a changed woman, but I lit his ass all the way UP. One thing I noticed is that not a single person in the room came to my aid during this period. Not his white female partner, not the white female manager, not the white male barmen. Nothing. No one uttered a single word. Upon my furious return to the office, my bosses were kind, understanding and accommodating and really made an effort to listen to my recanting of the incident and took the correct steps to fix the issue, using their position of huge privilege to make sure the perpetrator did not walk away unpunished which I really appreciated. The incident shook me and alighted a rage inside me that I would never be able to extinguish. It made me understand that my blackness would transcend my academic background, my career, how ‘well spoken’ I may be, how ‘well dressed’ I may be. To a racist, I’m still simply BLACK an therefore worthy of abuse. It’s something to be addressed, time and time again I see and hear misguided comments such as ‘well maybe if he had been dressed correctly’ or ‘well maybe if she wasn’t so ghetto’ XYZ wouldn’t have happened to them. The blame must shift back to the perpetrators, not the victims. The experience taught me to be unapologetically black in all forms, to take up space as a black female in a male-dominated industry and not to shy away from the uncomfortable.

I know this post only really scratches the surface of part of my lived experience, but it’s leaning towards a dissertation so here is where I will stop, but there are some topics I really want to delve into deeper such as ‘The black excellence conundrum’ and 'Where home is' and 'Mental health and the Nigerian community'. Let me know what you think.

What I Wore...

Jacket - H&M | Top - &Otherstories | Jeans - &Otherstories | Bag - Lekki Market | Sandals - Clarks | Africa Necklace - KIONII



S E P T E M B E R .[Journal].

I realised Autumn was here one morning when I woke up to my alarm and didn’t see the sun. Instead, I was met with an inky indigo darkness, with the moon still dancing shyly in the sky. September quite literally flew by in the blink of an eye which saddens me as it was my birthday month, but I'm saying hello to October with welcome arms as it is the month of pumpkin spice lattes, cozy rust hues, and early Christmas songs. My goals for September were on the chill side, but a mixture of intense busyness and getting sick, regardless, here is a brief summary of what I did, and didn't achieve on that list:

  • Book in for a full body massage as a birthday gift to myself. [my bank account said a resounding “uh uh boo boo!” - maybe next year?]
  • Finish reading ‘Captivating’. [Nope - I can’t seem to pick this up again, maybe because it talks in so much detail about relationships and I CBA with alllllladat right now]
  • Start my Sisterhood connect group in Bankside. ☑️ [Yes! I did it and my first one was brilliant!]
  •  Catch up with more friends to see how they’re really doing. ☑️ [part of the reason why the massage was thrown out, I only have so much £ Y'all! But it’s been brilliant to see how people have been doing. Most have been doing quite badly but have opened up tremendously thank God.]
  • Begin my Part II log books (so boring ugh). [Lolololol okay by the end of the year imma do it!]
  • Learn how to use the Sony A6000. ☑️ I swapped out my Canon DSLR for my sisters A6000 as she wasn't getting along with it and had wanted my camera for a long time. She definitely is MUCH better at using my Canon than I was so I was more than happy to swap with her as I definitely think she's going to take the creative industry by storm. The A6000 is pretty simple to use and she fits snugly in even my smaller handbags.
  • Write up at least 2 pieces of thought-provoking writing for Black History Month. ☑️ [Oh yes! I have been flexing my fingers and typing away and away and away. Excited to show what I’ll be sharing as part of my small contribution to Black History Month.

W E A R I N G: The last of summers warmth is slowly fading, so I've been trying to make the most of my midi and maxi dresses with sandals or trainers. At the end of October, I bought a beautiful dress from my friend Ngoni who runs indie label We Are Kin. Co, it's a simple black side split maxi that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion and can be worn alone or layered, which is why I decided to invest in it. Do check out Ngoni's brand as she's killing it - The visuals from her last collection are straight up fire.

D O I N G: Too much, as per usual. This month I overdid it and became quite sick, and had people tell me that I would have to scale back on a few of my responsibilities which I most definitely agree on. Because of being ill, overstretching myself and generally feeling worn out, I didn't do very much this month except celebrate my birthday and go to work!

O C T O B E R   G O A L S: Staring at my phone in unbelief, I count the months left, “October, November, December” I count the last three months over and over again on my fingers, “one, two, three.... how?”. Where did the time go? It feels like we somehow fast forwarded through summer and have landed sharply at autumn. Last month I set myself some goals, which you can see I did fairly okay with,  My goals for this month are even more chill than last month.

  • Start running 3 x a week or go to the gym.
  • Drink 2L of water a day.
  • Plan out my weeks a week in advance.
  • Rest more.

Even simpler than last month's list, here's hoping I can take care of myself a little better this month, and I hope you guys do too! It's far too easy to let ourselves go and just ride by on autopilot. Here's to a new month of blessings, challenges and exciting change ahead - Let's smash it family!



The Marseille Travel Diary.

Marseille, France
On an icy evening in February, my sister Yossy and I decided categorically that the time had finally come where we, as the mature and fiscally responsible adults we are, would book a family holiday. Our parents, Yossy and I, together under the sun relaxing... somewhere. We scoured travel pages for places we thought would be enjoyable for all four of us, it had to be somewhere with flavoursome food (for my dad), it had to be somewhere with a decent shopping scene (for my mum), it had to be somewhere aesthetically pleasing (for my sister). And for me... it just had to be outside of The UK. We aimed for Marrakesh and Ankara, but with the way, our bank accounts were looking (dusty and filled with regret), we ended up last minute booking the sunny city of Marseille. Our excitement peaked when we presented the booking confirmation in our mum’s Mother’s Day card. Everything was on course for what was to be a brilliant family holiday. Then life, as it does, deals you blows, I ended up losing my job around the end of May and the entire plan fell to pieces like piercing laughing shards of failure that stung and embarrassed me. My parents made the executive decision to abandon the holiday plans as they didn’t want me to spend any more money, but as things were already booked and paid for, I wasn’t about to let a blip in the landscape stop me from living my best life. So Yossy and I made a secondary executive decision to allé à Marseille, sans our parents and declare it a sisters trip.
A few days after the Blogosphere blog awards, we packed an unholy amount of clothes into our very overweight hand luggage and jetted off to Marseille, nervous but wholly excited at the prospect of a sister-sister vacation, with the sting of failure still tart, dancing upon my chest in waves of blackness. Depression. We arrived at l’aéroport de Provence an hour later than expected (cheers Ryanair) and used my très mal française to purchase two coach tickets to the nearest métro station close to our Airbnb in the Vauban district of Marseille. A breathless uphill walk and a few Instagram snaps along the way and we had arrived, our snug little Flat nestled on the eighth floor of an apartment building, with a framed view of the beautiful Notre dame de la Garde. 

On our first evening, we explored Vauban by streetlight and google maps, desperate for food and a nice glass of wine, we found a Vapiano’s, and promptly realised we didn’t know enough French to order at the counters aha! We walked and walked and eventually found a small Japanese bar and ordered food there. We sat outside, clinked our Aloe Vera drinks under the twinkling fairy lights and haze of second-hand cigarette smoke and drank it all in, we were in France, we were together and we felt on top of the damn world.

Sunlight streamed through the windows at 7:00am the next morning and I sat cross-legged on the bed with a coffee in my hand and my wig damp from the dodgy shower I had had thirty minutes earlier. Yossy and I speedily got ready so that we could grab breakfast from a local bakery or coffee shop and experience proper pain au chocolat - French boulangerie style. We stumbled upon the most beautiful café in Vauban, a stone's throw away from where we were staying, called Les Succulentes, which merged, you guessed it - succulents, plants and all things green with delicious coffee, my kinda place. Two coffees and some pastries later... we went back to our Flat to get out of the heat for a few hours before going back out, on our way back we stopped by the little greengrocers opposite the Flat for some fresh Provençal fruit and vegetables. The owner Monsieur Rachid, a sixty-something year old Tunisian French ball of energy and enthusiasm, bumbled over to Yossy and I, declaring in French that he had a lot of delicious fruits for us to try, and so after many mouthfuls of strawberries, apricots and figs, we carried half a watermelon, and a bagful of other fruits, plus a few Provençal specials thrown in for free by the kindly Mr. Rachid on the premise that we were to come and say hi to him and the store every day of our stay. 
And true to our word, Morning, afternoon and evening we would go to say a cheery ‘Bonjour!’ To Mr. Rachid and his employees at the little greengrocers, it is here I should note that Mr. Rachid didn’t speak a lick of English, and our conversations were propped up by a mixture of my shaky a level French and a whole lotta google maps. One sunny morning on our way to a bakery to find more delicious pain au chocolat as usual, we stopped to say hi to Mr. Rachid, on this morning he excitedly greeted us with two kisses upon our cheeks and a ‘trés belle!’ We said hello to his nephew who helped man the store and Mr. Rachid insisted I left him my number as he would make a great husband for me and he thought I would make a great wife and a welcome addition to the family (aha!), after this awkward back and forth in broken French (on my part) and flushed giggling from Mr. Rachids nephew,  Mr. Rachid himself grabbed our hands and told us that he must take us for petit déjeuner at the bakery close to his shop and so we sat, the three of us, Yossy, Myself and Mr Rachid over coffees, quiche Lorraine and croissants learning about Mr Rachid’s North African roots, his children, his wife, his family (with the help of google translate of course). It was a moment that reminded me why we must keep traveling, keeping creating conversations and keep open minded. 

Eventually, we decided to hop on the métro three stops to the city centre of Marseille, a beautiful port, filled to the brim with vessels sitting on a sparkling shining blue-green blanket of water. The city centre was similar to most other major French cities I had visited in the past but it was laced with a certain je ne sais quoi (teehee had to get that in). The locals were exceptionally friendly and eager to share their recommendations with us. One thing everyone said we *must* try was the bouillabaisse (a Marseillais fish stew) and the Marseille version of fritto misto (fried seafood - sardines, squid, prawns etc), we tried both and I ate far too much of the fried seafood - it was delicious and super light! Another delicious delight we discovered were calissons, little almond paste and citrus peel sweets native to the Provence region. Not far from the city centre was the Panier district of Marseille, a mish-mash of small colourful alleyways, artisans, vintage shop fronts, art galleries and some very sweet cafés for a drink or two under the blazing yellow sunshine. Yossy and I waltzed around the Panier de Marseille as if under a spell, everything was so incredibly beautiful, people were so friendly, and the entire area was so aesthetically pleasing and so very French that I could have squealed.
Would we return to Marseille? Absolutely, I think between the friendliness of the locals, the delicious food, the affordability and my harem of beautiful French boyfriends waiting for me (Aha!) I would most definitely make another trip there for a few lazy days in the Provence sunshine. Next time we promise to book it during the calanque tour season so we can swim in the crystal clear waters and experience the natural beauty of the south of France. Zut alors! this ended up being quite a wordy blog post didn’t it? I could have written and written and written, but it is now half past nine on a Sunday evening and I have had one too many glasses of merlot as I've been a' typing so I suppose this is where my post will have to end, before I wrap this up, I would heartily recommend a visit to the beautiful port city of Marseille.



2+7 = 9.

The number nine has been playing on my mind since the first playful rays of warmth peeked through thick grey summer clouds this year. It has been in my dreams as I sleep, in my head as I click-clack away at my desk. Two plus seven equals nine. And nine is a number that holds a lot of significance to me. Usually, birthdays are painstakingly important for me because I don't take a single day I’m alive for granted. Every breath that bellows through my lungs, every synchronised beat my heart makes, every flutter as my eyes open and close, drinking in the world around me, it is all so beautiful, so perfect, so wonderful. 
Twenty-six was a year of exponential growth, usually, in my younger years, I would have said ‘Oh! 26 was a hard year!’ But I don’t think it was ‘hard’, it was a testing year for sure, but it was everything I absolutely needed to be where I am right now. From my post-university blues to dealing with difficult situations, it was all necessary for the season I was in, and if I’m to highlight just one thing I learned this year, it’s to really ‘live’ in the season you’re in. Embracing every single millisecond of that season, working with the tide instead of fighting against it. I worked solidly in the darkness of postgraduate depression, shooting off applications, meeting up with others who were struggling with life’s blows, breathing encouragement into their lives as a way to deal with the sticky oil slick demons clinging to my back, cackling, whispering untruths into my ears, waiting for me to crack. But the crack never quite came, instead, I sought help, buried myself in the word and rested in the peace of Gods perfect timing. I look back and I squeal with joy at all I overcame and now at twenty-seven, I’m allowing myself to bask in the sparkling lushness of life. 
As a seasoned ‘worrier’ complete with hand-wringing, sleepless nights, and a fearful demeanour, I have had to work dutifully on finding ways to cast off the stained, dark and dusty blanket of ‘what if...’ and carefully drape the glittering, bright cape of ‘even if...’.  Across my shoulders each and every morning.
My early twenties were (Excuse the architectural language) me setting the heavy rough foundations of what is to be. Concrete blocks that grazed my hands leaving thin trails of blood over the pale grey, dust-covered jeans, beads of perspiration erupting on my forehead and my eyes prickling with tiredness. I wanted to give up during this period, but I didn’t and I urge all of you in the foundation building period of your lives to keep toiling, keep building, keep going. I look at the foundations I’ve laid and I can finally wipe the salt-stained trails from my face, look up to the sky and smile, a smile that I feel from the tips of my toes all the way up to the top of my head. The sun has come out again, and it’s time to re-consult my floor plans. The foundations have been completed, but here comes the real challenge. Am I ready for it? Not solely on my strength, but his.

Two + Seven = Nine.

The number of divine completeness and new beginnings.

Here’s to twenty-seven.

What I Wore....

Dress c/o & Other Stories | Heels - Next (old) | Bag c/o Boden (old)

[Photograhy by Yossy Akinsanya]



The Life Of A Collector | SAMMANHANG .

Shelves lined with books from 1998, a blue China trinket box found in a Lincolnshire charity shop for fifty pence, a turquoise and opal cabochon ring - a gift from a very kind French creator who is now residing in Ireland. My bedroom is a smorgasbord of well... varying shaped pieces of me I suppose. A warm toned oasis with shades of whites, creams, and yellows covering the walls and furniture, contrasting against the lush thick greenness of my budding plant collection. Various bits and bobs acquired over the years which make it an interesting reflection of me, that which I hold dear and the things that make my brain tick, my heart skip a beat and my soul say ‘ooooh!’.
[I am a collector. I am a collector of objects. I am a collector of things. I am a collector of memories]...
IKEA has launched a new collection called SAMMANHANG which is centered around the idea of putting your most prized possessions on display, celebrating one's passions and belongings in the most tangible way. As I unpacked my SAMMANHANG glass domes, I already knew what I wanted to put inside them for safekeeping and display. Two weeks ago I went to Brighton with my friends, we waded into the sparkling cold water and yelped with both excitement at the waves crashing in mightily and the sheer iciness of the water. We skipped rocks excitedly, throwing our worries and cares into the sea with a resounding plop! I ran my fingers over each pebble, feeling for a familiar type of smoothness, looking at them for any peculiarities. I found four perfectly imperfect stones. I held them, thought good thoughts, and then put them into my bag as a reminder of that weekend. The rocks sit proudly in their glass home, with my favourite smooth grey almost Carrara marble-ish Henry Moore looking one perched at the top, a daily reminder of skipping stones one cold August morning in the south of England.
On my dressing table now sits a wide glass structure which houses everything from my daily moisturiser, to odd pieces of kitschy jewellery, all the way to my graduation shoes. The shoes that carried me across the stage to collect my postgraduate degree, the shoes that walked me over to my professors to give them my utmost thanks, the shoes that took me to the pen factory to have one too many drinks and a slurred joyous dance with my fellow graduates, the shoes that, upon my waking the next morning had given me painful blisters. Totally worth it though. They are beautiful and the part they played on one of the most important days of my life is the reason they sit inside the glass casing, also I hope it’ll encourage me to wear them more (without toppling over).
As I write this, I look at my mish-mash collection of things and realise I most definitely have more ‘things’ than the average person. Minimalism, Maximalism, ‘Me-me-me-lism’ I suppose is my calling. There are things that once held memories which are now nothing more than just that I suppose. My old Practika nova sits atop my black SAMMANHANG stand, a brushstroke of intense black against the whites and creams of my safe space. Fond memories of carrying the heavy cold metal camera around in summer, shooting blades of overgrown barley in the park near my house, catching a wry smile and the cheeky wink of my friends, capturing the first rays of the morning peeking through my mesh curtains. I’m not sure old practika is still working at the moment, but for now, until I take her to be fixed, she sits proudly atop the stand a reminder to keep on documenting.
Looking through my boxes of bits and bobs from around the world (quite literally), bringing out each beautiful piece, tasting each memory attached to them before placing each one proudly in their new display homes felt incredible. In the pair of earrings I purchased from my sister when she opened her online store, I felt the surge of excitement and proudness I felt back then again. In the leather elephant embossed box from Bangladesh that my friend Prova gifted to me once she returned from her travels home, I could feel the warm fragrant air of Dhaka against my skin. In the 1893 book I found for fifty pence in an anarchist bookstore, I am transported into the words from one lover to another. Little reminders to continue to collect, to store to display, to remember.

[Photography by myself and Yossy Akinsanya]

This post was sponsored by IKEA. All words & Photography is by yours truly.



Twenty-Six Things I've Learned In Twenty-Six Years.

27, The words roll off my tongue with an unexpected softness. I say it, again and again, waiting for the numbers to pierce my tongue, waiting for tiny fear embedded shrapnel to scratch my throat, stop me from speaking. But it doesn’t happen. Instead, twenty-seven feels like Honey in my mouth, sweet, rich warm embracing amber that drips slowly, softly. It feels... welcoming. 

I turn a whole twenty-seven next week. Everyone keeps asking me how it feels to be solidly in my late twenties, and I usually reply with a far-away smile and say that I’m blessed to have reached this age. As a teenager I always associated 27 with the greats who passed away too soon; Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and more, so I suppose you could understand if I had any apprehension heading towards my late twenties. But all throughout August, I kept getting signs that this last quarter of the year, and indeed this new age would be reckless in its blessings, wonders, and beauty - and I claim it with eyes, heart, and soul wide open, ready to step into anything I’ve been called into. I could write and write about the significance of 27, but then I wouldn’t have anything to post on my actual 27th birthday next week so without any further ado, here are twenty-six things I’ve learned over my twenty-six years of life...

1. Things do indeed get better with time. Wine, heartbreak, cheese (I think?). So just ride that season until the ice of your winter begins to thaw and the pink blossoming buds of your spring begin to emerge, signaling a change.

2. Always, always, always invest in a good quality pair of boots and a warm coat for Winter. Fast Fashion will not keep you warm!

3. Save at least 1/3 of your paycheck if at all possible. This will be your saving grace in case anything happens that you weren’t planning for. (This helped me a lot when I lost my job!).

4. Other women are not your competition and never will be. Focus on your own road without looking left or right.

5. Investing time, love and warmth into friendships really pays off and the reward is well... friends that become family.
6. Learn to self-evaluate no matter how hard it is. Call yourself out before other people do, I’ve seen many a person be their own undoing...

7. Carry a reusable coffee cup and a reusable water bottle with you at all times. 

8. As you get older, there will be things you won’t be able to eat anymore. *sigh* goodbye dairy (lol jk I eat cheese then cry on the toilet more often than not.

9. Dating / getting a partner isn’t the be all and end all of life. Just enjoy the ride, relationship (or not) does not determine your worth.

10. Always put a book in your bag. It makes commuting actually enjoyable to a degree when you get lost in a book.
11. Invest in the perfect red lipstick for your face, skin tone and skin type. Red lipstick on an off day can honestly turn the whole ship around.

12. Be completely yourself in all capacities, at a job interview, on a date, with friends, with family. Don’t make yourself smaller or bigger, just be you.

13. Mind. Your. Business. It will save you a lot of wahala (Yoruba word for ‘trouble’).

14. Be careful who you associate yourself with. Be kind, but keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground. Not everyone will be happy when you prosper - remove these people with a quickness. Who you surround yourself with is who you become.

15. With age, you will learn to appreciate your parent's monumental wisdom, their behavioral quirks, why they are the way they are and it’ll soften your heart.
16. Invest in your hobbies or your side hustles alongside your main career goals, eventually, these may diverge into one, and even if they don’t, it’ll keep you thinking, creating, doing in a different capacity. My blog is a testament to that I suppose.

17. Faith will take you to places you could only imagine. Even if you’re non-religious, manifestation, speaking things into existence, projecting good energy, it is all more important than we give credit to.

18. Men will break your heart, and it will feel like you are quite literally dying. But you will survive and you will thrive after. Try to hold no anger, resentment or sadness towards the past as it’ll only hinder you. Look forward with expectation.

19. Supporting your friends is paramount. If they run a business, be a customer. If they’ve posted sponsored content, interact with it. If they’ve dropped fire music, listen to it. If they’ve written pieces, read it and share it with your own audience. 

20. Always, always, always, listen to others points of views during disagreements and understand where they’re coming from (discernment is key and this should be within reason). Apologising if something has been misread, or taken the wrong way. 
21. Drink water and look after your skin. It is the only skin you’ll ever have.

22. Let people know how much you appreciate them whenever you can. Either verbally or through their preferred love language.

23. Say yes to the uncomfortable but don’t overwhelm yourself with too much. Balance is key, but the key to growth is stepping out into the unknown and taking risks.

24. Be careful with what you use your mouth to say, it always, always, always comes back to bite, and the bite will be painful.

25. Getting older is a blessing and something to be celebrated. As I’ve grown older there are people who I’ve lost along the way to cancer, suicide, health issues and more. I try to take each day I’m alive as a wonderful gift and not something to take for granted or take lightly.

26. Learning to love yourself will be one of the most important things you will ever do. It will be the catalyst for immeasurable exciting growth. So go forth, look at yourself naked in a mirror, trace your round belly, the light stretch marks draped across your hips and butt, the sag of your breasts and the thickness of your thighs. Drink it all in. You. Were. Wonderfully. And. Fearfully. Made. Bask in it all and always remember this.


BLOUSE c/o & other stories | JEANS c/o & other stories | BAG - vintage | SHOES - zara

{photography by Yossy Akinsanya}



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