2014: The Year Of…?

As 2013 drew to a close it was time to reflect and look to the year ahead. 2013 was like a flash in the pan. I can’t believe it’s nearly over! As is the case every year, I have much to be thankful for.

 

When the year started out I did not know what would be in store. I did not know that I would start writing a blog for instance. I had wanted to start one for a very long time, but then I just decided to stop stalling, and just do it. The response has been interesting and at times surprising. For example, my most popular post by far has been my post giving tips on transitioning to natural hair. I have written about political issues (a little more than I expected to!), as well as diet and nutrition, but it seems that most people are particularly concerned about… hair. Well I am adamant that I will not turn into a natural hair blogger, but if it’s helping people, then hey I may as well add some more posts about hair this year.

 

2013 also turned out to be the year I learned how to ride a bike. Yes aged 26, with the help of my partner, I learned how to ride a bike. I can’t explain the mixed feelings I had when the bike finally stopped wobbling, and I was able make some distance. I felt happy to have conquered, but sad that I had missed out on such an exhilarating activity for so many years of my life. This year, I hope to become more confident on a bike, and I may even try to learn how to swim too while I’m at it!

 

I turned 27, and it truly feels like old age beckons. I have quite a granny personality as it is, but now that I’m getting older, it seems that my energy levels are dipping, and just want to curl up in bed half the time. As a result, my body is just not what it was back in 2012. However, this presents another challenge that I am ready to take up this year; getting my body back in shape!

 

All in all, 2013 produced some good memories. Before I moved to the reformed church I now attend, the charismatic Nigerian dominated churches of my past would be coming up with themes for the New Year at this time. “2014 the year of Jubilation”, or “2014 the year of Fruitfulness” for example. I don’t know what 2014 is going to turn out to be, but there is no way I am going to stand still. I hope it’s going to be a year of moving forward. A year where I don’t make the same mistakes I made the year before, and progress in my Christian faith. A year of new things, new adventures, and new accomplishments.

 

Here’s to 2014! The year of the unknown! I hope I have fun discovering it.

Black Hair (Part 2): It’s None of Your Business!

I do not mean to cause offence by the title of this post; it is aimed at narrow minded people who judge black women not on the content of their character, but on something as superficial as how they choose to style their hair.

 

With this post I fall in danger of contradicting part 1, in which I sought to argue that it does matter how black women style their hair, in the sense that those who choose to wear it naturally, (knowingly or unknowingly) send a message to the world that there is nothing wrong the kinky textured hair of people of African descent. However I do think that it is also true that how a woman chooses to style her hair is her own personal choice, and as such should not be open for criticism and debate by others.

 

Let me explain what I mean. One day I was sitting on a train when I observed a very disturbing and bizarre scene. A black male starting speaking loudly to a young black female sitting across the aisle.

 

“Excuse me, is that your real hair?”

“No” she replied quietly, head down.

“I didn’t think so. You shouldn’t be wearing weave. It looks fake”.

 

I felt embarrassed for the young woman. Her hair was obviously a weave, and by the looks of it not “human hair”. Maybe she was not in a position to afford a better quality weave. Maybe she just wanted to cover her natural/relaxed hair with a weave as a protective style. Whatever her reasons for having a, not so great, weave, what right did that man have to question her? Whatever the state of her hair, in what way did it affect him?

 

Sadly he’s not alone in his condemnation of black women who do not wear their hair natural. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to stumble across certain Youtube channels of (black) men, dedicated to spewing venom at black women, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. In fairness, it’s not just black men, and it’s not just men. Women too can be very judgmental about what they perceive to be a bad weave or bad hair day. Remember how much stick Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglass during the

How could simple tied back hair cause such a fuss?

How could simple tied back hair cause such a fuss?

2012 Olympics? She was not criticised for her performance – and rightly so as she won two gold medals – but what was her crime? Not having freshly relaxed hair!

 

I accept that criticism of women’s looks is not limited to one race. The picking apart of women’s bodies in national magazines is indiscriminate. But when it comes to hair, there does not seem to be such a fierce debate around what it means if Caucasian hair is straightened or left curly, or if extensions are added in. If you listen to those venomous self-hating Youtube cowards (cowards because it’s easy to be foul mouthed and derogatory behind your computer screen), then a black women who straightens her hair, or gets a weave, does so because she wishes she were white. Of course it can’t be because she feels like a change, or likes the way it looks, or wants a protective style. Even if she does wish to be white, surely it’s only a small minority of people who would actually conclude that a woman wishes she were a different race because of her hairstyle? Or should I suppose that when Cheryl Cole wears cornrows she is expressing her inner desire to be black?

Not sure if this was before or after her alleged racial assault on a toilet attendant

Not sure if this was before or after her alleged racial assault on a toilet attendant

For the record, black hair is versatile. It’s probably the most versatile hair type that exists. Many different styles can be achieved with it. So when black women choose to explore the different styles, why not just leave them be? It’s not hurting you. And in my experience, most people of other races do not quite understand black hair, and so do not even realise that. For example, box braids involve fake hair! How many times have I taken out braids and then been asked by classmates/colleagues “have you cut your hair?” Before I would roll my eyes, and think “how ignorant”, but now I find it liberating. Knowing that my colleagues are not scrutinizing my latest hairstyle and scanning the back of my head for visible tracks, puts me at ease. If only all black women could feel that way all of the time.

Why I’m One Step Away From Becoming a Vegan

It’s day 3, and I am starving. I eat, but it’s as though the food enters my mouth, goes down my throat, then evaporates. My body has become so accustomed to the sludgy, stodgy, starchy foods that I recently decided to eliminate from my diet, that it seems that my body and brain cannot even function properly without them. I am wondering how long it will take for my body to adjust, because if I had a regular job, where I went to work every day from 9-5, instead of my flexible job that allows me to work from home some days, there’s a strong possibility that I would have been fired by now.

So why am I doing this to myself? Why have I decided to stop eating dairy, (no more milk, chocolate, cheese, cream, butter, buttercream… do all things good come from a cow?) and other “inflammatory” foods (refined sugar, white rice, white pasta, deep fried food)? The anticipated answer is that I must be trying to lose weight, and yes, whilst that is true, that is not my main objective.

English: A small dairy farm in western Maryland

English: A small dairy farm in western Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Endometriosis affects around 2 million women in the UK, and last year I discovered that I was amongst that happy number. It’s a condition that causes the small pieces of lining of the womb to to be found in outside the womb and often causing scar tissue. Following a laparoscopy, a common procedure to remove scar tissue, I researched diet and endometriosis online and found information about how avoiding, refined sugar, red meat, refined carbs, and dairy could help improve symptoms. I told myself I’d avoid such foods, but it was hard. It wasn’t long before I was back to bingeing on the cake, burgers, and cream cheese frosting.

I’d been feeling ok, albeit heavier, but almost a year after my procedure I’d forgotten all about trying to avoid certain foods. Then the “uh oh” moment came sometime last week when the familiar pains started to resurface. There was no way I was going to put myself through another medical procedure as a result of my gluttony. That’s when the anti-endometriosis diet came to mind again. With Google as my guide I navigated my way through various pages that provided similar information to that which I had obtained before, but this time two key themes stood out:

  1. Anybody suffering from any type of long term condition should avoid foods that are considered inflammatory, in that they tend to inflame the condition.
  1. Of all the inflammatory food groups, dairy was the most despicable

What moved me in particular, was a woman’s story of how when she gave up eating dairy, (making her a vegan as she was already vegetarian), she finally conceived aged 35, after believing that she was infertile due to years of severe endometriosis.

To anybody out there who is thinking about taking up what I will call the anti-inflammatory diet, I will share some of my recipe ideas in following posts. It’s only been 3 days so I am still trying to come up with meal ideas that do not contain refined carbs, or dairy. Quinoa has become my friend (my foreign friend whose name I am not sure I am pronouncing correctly). I’ve discovered that “the unbearable lightness of being” is more fitting as a way describing my hunger pangs, than the title of a book. But at least I can eat chicken and fish, which keep me going, and are by the way,  the final  “step” that separates me from being a vegan (in other words, it’s never going to happen).

Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been...

Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been eaten for 6000 years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For more information about endometrisios click here:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Endometriosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Have you or somebody you know been diagnosed with endometriosis? Share your experiences in the comments