Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally.

If there’s any writer who can write hard-hitting essays as persuasively and compellingly as novels and short stories and make them utterly readable it is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To say, I have read all her work would be an understatement. I have devoured each one of her work and cannot quite point which one I like the best; hence it was natural that I added Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions to my Chimamanda collection.

This book is a quick read with 15 actionable steps to raise a strong and empowered daughter. It shines with Chimamanda’s characteristic warmth and forthrightness but is deeply personal. According to Chimamanda, her friend Ijeawele wrote to ask how she should bring her baby daughter up a feminist, and in response, after the right hesitations – “it felt like too huge a task”– Adichie made this list of 15 suggestions.

I would say that this book should be an essential read to women (and men) everywhere and not just mums with girls—because it would help us to develop more empathy and fine tune our mind on how patriarchy catches up—often unaware. And yes it would help us to raise stronger girls and wiser boys.

For eons, women (and men) have been taught how we need to behave. Girls should be softer and men should be more aggressive. And no matter what women have been taught to be more likable (or risk being tagged Nasty woman, cue Hillary V/S Trump). But this book helps us to identify these unconscious biases and give it a massive f*** you. It also tells us how to defy the societal norms and standards to become your own person.

I wrote about the infamous Nasty Woman episode, a few lines ago. Why? One of the advice in the book is to reject likeability. Easier said than done, I painfully learn even now. I have never been the cool, popular kid, never been the one to succumb to peer pressure and in the face have rejected likeability but even today in moments of honest introspection—I often wonder if I am liked enough by my set of girlfriends, my colleagues, even my family for that matter. See, how unconsciously these societal standards affect us?

Human beings are cultural beings, consistently shaped by ideas and values around us. Throughout history and even in art and culture, we see likeability a major factor (especially for women). Women are unconsciously raised to become people-pleaser. And we need to stop doing this to ourselves and our future generation because as another wise woman said, “Well-behaved women, rarely made history”. 

The other suggestions in the book– about marriage, motherhood, and reading  as well as the often told ‘because you are a girl’, is never a reason for anything” also make equal sense and they all come with personal anecdotes.

I repeat this book is an essential and urgent read. Why? Because to raise feminist daughters (or sons), mothers must take pleasure and pride in their own achievements, follow both the challenges and delights of life and give themselves room to fail. Because ultimately, as Adichie writes, children must be raised to be full people. 

As a self-confessed shopping addict and fashion lover, I must say shopping for me is the greatest pleasure-seeking activity! I shop–when I am happy, when I am frustrated, when I have had a bad at work, when I have had a really good day and sometimes just because I can. The other day, after a cleaning spree, channelised by watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, I realised that I actually have clothes enough to fit a little town. This made me uncomfortable.

This discomfort is amplified when I read about how fast-fashion is destroying the planet. If you have been living under a rock for all these months and have missed these reports, here are some sobering facts:

These numbers are staggering and if the fashion industry and fashion lovers like me do not take this seriously, we would just end up contributing to this problem more.

I have taken a conscious decision that I would stop impulse shopping and only buy things I genuinely need. The key thing I would ask myself before buying a garment would be: Will I be wearing it at least 20 times? The other thing, I have promised myself is that I would restyle and recycle clothes. I am actually quite excited about the restyling element because it means really expanding my style creativity to come up with various looks without buying anything.

breton top style

So, this is exactly what I did whilst on holiday recently. Instead of buying “at least one new piece of garment for the holiday” I decided to restyle my old Breton (striped) top. This is an old one and you can see how I wore this few years ago (pictured above). Breton top is one of those classic style items which every woman should have in their wardrobe simply because they are versatile.

This time, I wore the top with a skirt and red boots both which I bought last year.

So, you see you do not have to keep buying stuff in order to be fashionable/stylish/trendy/happy. I know this promise to buy something only if I really need it, is going to be a tough one but I am determined to make it work.

And yes as I just showed you, you can be stylish and save the planet too because hey it’s the only one we got.

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Running isn’t a sport for pretty boys (and girls)…It’s about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and nausea in your gut. It’s about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each and every day with. It’s about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fibre in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all that you can ask for.” 

From The Gift – A Runner’s Story, Paul Mercer

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running has taught me about life

I have never been an athlete or a runner ever in my life. Needless to say, I never thought that I would actually be able to participate in and finish a half marathon even in my wildest dreams. So, last Sunday (7th Oct) when I finished my first half marathon in a mostly hilly terrain of Basingstoke, Hampshire in 2 hours and 35 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised.

I have always liked doing things that are out of my comfort zone and running has always intrigued me. So, I took up this challenge of running a half marathon just to see what I am made of.

Last year, I took up running seriously. Earlier this year, I  started training for the Basingstoke Half Marathon. During this process, I realised that there is more to running than just putting one foot in front of the other; running teaches you a few important things about life and builds your spirit and character.

You can achieve anything as long as you are willing to work for it:

As I mentioned earlier, I am not a natural runner. Running was not just difficult for me; it was impossible. But hard work, discipline and sheer stubbornness to achieve something are the essential qualities you need to achieve anything in life just like in running.

Believe in yourself and be your own cheerleader:

You will have many naysayers who will try to bring you down, the worst naysayer could be your own negative voice. Cut it out, tell it to shut up! Belief in your self and that can do mentality is the first step to actually being able to do it. Life is a marathon and some of it will have to be done alone, so it is important to love yourself to love the process. Simply put, be your own cheerleader.

Basingstoke Half Marathon 2018 what running teaches you about life

Setbacks are inevitable but Perseverance pays off:  

Injuries, tiredness, a beaten up spirit, these are some of the things I’ve experienced in and out of running. Every time I found myself down (sometimes, despite my best efforts), I got up, dusted myself, healed and carried on. It was not easy but giving up would be have been worse.

Be Proud of your Body:

Like many other women, I have been conditioned to not love my body and be obsessed with its shortcomings—the mummy tummy, the cellulite, the scars. But when I had my daughter four years ago, I finally realised the enormous power of the female body. Its ability to split in half to push a tiny human being and to heal itself is truly wonderful. Training and running the half marathon has made me more respectable, loving and prouder of my body because you realise that your strong legs and an even stronger mind can literally take you places.

It’s Your and only you Race:

As adults, we love comparing ourselves to others and vexing ourselves endlessly. Sure, someone would be faster, better, have a more of runner’s body, is more successful than you but running teaches you that is your and only your race. Enjoy it, cherish it and make it worthwhile. Comparing yourself to others simply steals the joy.

As I said, Running teaches you a lot about life. If running has helped please share your story in the comment section.

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“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher”.  William Wordsworth

The trickling sound of waterfalls welcomes you as soon as you enter this woodland. I am engulfed by nature sounds all around me and I keep walking to spot the source of waterfall sound. Cut from the cacophony of city life and the constant buzz of phone calls, email notifications and whatnots, I feel strangely at peace. I am lost in my own bubble and I feel at home. Nature truly is therapeutic because it makes you forget your own problems.

Lake District Attractions

Welcome to Lake District, a place of outstanding beauty. I have heard so much about this place that I feared that the reality would be an anti-climax. But thank God, I was wrong. Lake District lives up to the hype and the picturesque scenery will impress even the fussiest traveller.

Lake District attractions

As the name suggests, Lake District is full of tranquil lakes flowing between the mighty hills. Between the lakes, you will see lush greenery teasing your senses while sheep graze lazily on the greens. If the land is not enticing enough then up in the sky you will see sun and mist playing hide and seek with the hills.

Aira Force Lake District

The Lake District has a romantic past. William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets drew attention to this special area in the northwest corner of England during the 19th century. It has since become a destination for nature lovers and hikers everywhere.

We stayed at Ullswater, situated in the Northern area of the English Lake District. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District at a length of 8 miles. The lake is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the area and is a very popular place for hiking, chugging on a steamboat or simply be.

 

Ullswater has many attractions but as our main aim was to connect with nature. We stuck to hiking. Our first hike/walk was at Aira Force, stunning waterfalls amidst nature trails. Our second hike was at Hallin Fell, Grassy Lakeland fell reaching 1,273 feet edged by Lake Ullswater & topped by a column of rocks.

 

 

Lake District attractions

Each day, we would set off in the morning, without any agenda—except to explore, wander and get awed by nature. And did we succeed? Somewhere on top of Arthur’s Pike, with light drizzle trickling down, literally lost in the middle of nowhere, I felt I found myself again.

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Dear A,

Despite my best attempts, I cannot keep time still. There is nothing more I want than asking time to slow down a little so you and I can enjoy your childhood a little more. You, darling child, have started asking some mind-boggling questions: Like why are there no girls in your football class? what happens to people when they leave this world? Why your best friend (who is a boy) not interested in ballet? I love these questions and these are just somethings I want you to learn, in no particular order.

  1. You can like dolls. You can like spiderman. And both are fine.
  2. There is nothing like a boy colour and girl colour. Colours are fun, enjoy them.
  3. People will eventually forget who you are but never how you made them feel. Make their memories unforgettable (in a nice way).
  4. Kick ass and don’t be a kiss ass.
  5. Rebel (but try not to do it against me) ;).
  6. Laugh, breathe and let go.
  7. Learn to deal with failures.
  8. Failures don’t make you but neither does success.
  9. Comparisons will steal your joy.
  10. Some girls will have sugar daddies. Don’t be that girl. Work hard and carve your own path.
  11. Despite what they say, feminism is not a bad word.
  12. Do silly things.
  13. Travel.
  14. Run, dance, lift weights. Move your body,  Love your body. It is the only vessel you have. Valentines Day unique ideas
  15. Love food. Don’t make it your enemy.
  16. Have friends from all walks of life.
  17. Speaking of friends; always remember quality over quantity.
  18. Sunscreen and some kohl. And of course red lipstick.
  19. Looks do fade. Character doesn’t.
  20. Love unconditionally. Love deeply. And Love yourself.
  21. Be strong, be gentle and be brave.
  22. Be your own cheerleader.
  23. Don’t dumb yourself down for anyone.
  24. Be Kind. Always.
  25. Be proud but not arrogant.
  26. Use your voice.
  27. You matter.
  28. If someone tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl, do it anyway, and do it better.

  29. Learn to say no.
  30. Love does conquer all.

With love, always

Your mum.