Someone asked me the other day why I hadn’t kept my blog up to date this year. For the life of me I could not come up with an answer I myself could believe but one thing I can say is I have been busy!

I have had a whole lot of changes in my life and one the biggest changes was embarking on a business venture with my sister.  After many months of creating and thinking and discussing and plotting and planning, we finally decided to take the dive and launch a fashion line Sanaa Designs. It’s been lots of sweat, time and money but it’s up and running and we will be counting on all of you to pay us a visit and buy our off the rack or custom made clothing and accessories!

Like Sanaa designs on faceboook www.facebook.com/Sanaa.design1

Sanaa Designs

Jobs, if its time to go…go

I have been on hiatus from writing for a few months now and I have felt guilty about it the whole time!  I was in a space that blocked my creativity and never gave me time to delve into the recesses of my mind to find inspiration.  I am out of that space now as evidenced by my re-emergence into the blogging world.

In the past I have written about bad relationships of the romantic kind. Today I am writing about bad relationships, the work related kind.  Jobs for most of us are a necessary evil, something we have to do to pay the bills, provide for ourselves according to the basic fundamentals of “Maslows Hierarchy of Needs” and also to give us something to show for that expensive education our parents paid for.

Of course some jobs are brilliant and satisfying and inspiring and enriching but those are not the jobs I am writing about today, today I am writing about the jobs that cause your nerves to be permanently on edge, your anxiety levels to shoot through the roof and your doctors’ bills to sky-rocket.  The kind of job that when the clock strikes 5pm on a Sunday your countenance falls and your mood dips because in a few hours it will be Monday.

But why do we feel that way? Usually it’s not the work we do but the people we work for or with that make our jobs miserable.  Evil bosses who spend their time plotting how they can add more work to your already unbalanced pile or colleagues that think they are characters in the film Mean Girls or boys.  I have worked in my fair share of hell holes.  The one who didn’t think it necessary to pay me at the end of a month spent lying to debt collectors to protect his ass; another who specialised in calling staff late at night to give them a shouting about something they had no idea about; the other was mentally unstable and had paranoid delusions that everyone was out to get her and of course there was the one who was mean just because she could. Most times I was able to put on my big girl panties and plod through these crazy working conditions but I must say, little bits of me were chipped away over the years.

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Sometimes people have terrible home lives and when they come to work they want to share the misery by making their colleagues equally miserable.  Often we find ourselves paying for the sins of a cheating wife or loser husband without even knowing it.  Lack of satisfaction in the trajectory of ones career can turn that chirpy new intern who always has the bright ideas the boss loves into a target for abuse and victimisation.  Lazy colleagues who always avoid work can also make your life miserable by continuously finding ways of getting you saddled with the work whilst they get the praise when all they do is regularly play immature mind games for shits and giggles.  Its hard staying motivated in an environment where your boss will use any opportunity to berate or humiliate you.

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Staff Meeting

Even though jobs like life were never meant to be easy, they are certainly not meant to be a torture chamber where we spend our lives being stretched to breaking point and racked over hot coals.  A job should be challenging but enjoyable and satisfying, not merely a means to an end.

Many of us are in professions which were pre-determined by our parents because they wanted us to be a doctor or a lawyer, some of us chose a career path that promised to be lucrative whilst most of us just do whatever work we can find at the time.  Whatever the case, if your job makes you unhappy and is destroying your personal relationships whilst ruining your health, LEAVE!  Find another job and get out.

Bad jobs are just another form of a bad relationship because they

  • Destroy your self-esteem and confidence,
  • Ruin relationships with your family,
  • Damage your health,
  • Create dependency which stops you from moving onto another job for fear you will fail there as well and maybe you deserve the bad treatment,
  • Make us abusive and bitter – what goes in must come out.

Staying in an environment that no longer welcomes you can lead to the situation deteriorating to the point where you might be fired before you are ready to go, or lose control and have a violent outburst followed by a dramatic quitting scene… “You can’t fire me, because I quit!!!!!!!!!!”  To be honest it’s not worth losing your dignity over.

Just because one company doesn’t appreciate you, doesn’t mean there is no place out there that is looking for someone just like you! And hey,  if that doesn’t work out, you can always be your own boss and start a business where you can create your own perfect environment doing what you love and are good at whilst receiving the ultimate reward of satisfaction.

Trust me!!

Where is the “good” in goodbye?

On the morning of 10 September 2012, I received the call that I had been waiting for all night.  It was my sister on the other end and she said the words to me, brief but self-explanatory “he is gone”, I gave a feeble “ok” in response and hung up… and wept.  All alone in my bed with my rather horrified cat staring at me I cried like a baby, with nobody to comfort and console me.  When I finally stopped crying, I called my brother thousands of miles away and told him “Dad has passed away” saying the words made the reality all the more tangible and I broke down again.  My father had died, not unexpectedly, but in all honesty who actually expects anyone they love to die?

The events that followed were a whirlwind and a blur, I remember coffee in the home of a caring neighbor, weeping a few more times and traveling home.  I remember the apprehension we all felt as we approached the house, the nervous laughter dying down to be  replaced with confessions of fear and a dire wish for the car to turn back and take us across the border where we had come from.  I remember seeing my mother and my heart breaking all over again, the arrival and departure of people and finally the funeral.  A whirlwind and a blur.

I do not dwell on the fact that my father died, for that unfortunately cannot be changed, and will not help me in any way. In fact I am grateful that my father passed away leaving me as an adult able to care for herself and not a young helpless child as some have experienced.  Someone said to me recently that we deal with death by removing all thought of the deceased and perhaps even living our lives like they never existed.  But how can I do that?  Pretending the person through whom I exist never existed is like extinguishing my own existence.  Instead, I have chosen to celebrate my father’s life.  To remember him with love and fondness, beautiful and full of laughter and to allow him to continue living… in my memories.

The other day I was sitting on my couch looking at the TV but not exactly concentrating and I suddenly burst out laughing, a memory of my father had entered my mind.  A memory of him instructing us on how to kill a giant moth that had fluttered into our lounge so many years ago..  “usatarise mudenga chinokupinda mumhuno” (Don’t look up it will get into your nose)  Dad screamed as we tried to brush the moth with a feather duster.  You see, my father disliked creepy crawlies of all kinds and would never attempt to get rid of one on his own but would rather get one of us to do it!  The only problem was we too had developed the same irrational fear of bugs and lizards and all other manner of creepy crawlies that wondered into our home.

More memories came to me… how we would laugh so hard in the evenings whilst cleaning up after supper, Dad would shout at us to go and laugh outside.  Of course this only made us laugh even louder and in the end, even Mom and Dad would laugh with no idea what we had been laughing at in the first place.

I remember waiting up every evening for Dad to come home.  The moment the lights of the car lit the driveway we would zoom out of the house to open the gate for him (modern day kids have no idea what they are missing with their electric, remote controlled gates) Dad would stop just inside the gate and we would jump into the car for the short 50 metre drive down the driveway!  But that wasn’t the best part, more often than not; something yummy would await us in the car, usually some chips from Royal Sunflower and in later years Chicken Inn or some delicious baked goods.  Of course there were days when all Dad brought was a couple of loaves of bread and I am pretty sure our disappointment disappointed him (ungrateful brats we were).

Finally I remember the evenings after a shopping spree (we did not get clothes at Christmas like most children back then, but we got new clothes regularly and usually for church), after Dad had eaten his supper, we would all put on our new clothes and put on a fashion show to rival any fashion week (Just realised who is to blame for my shopaholic tendencies)!

When I look back on my childhood, I realize that although we were not rich, we were privileged.  My father worked hard and in his mind and his heart, everything he did was for the benefit of his family.

I believe that dwelling on these positive thoughts and beautiful sometimes funny memories will go a long way to helping me and my family cope with the loss of our father.  It wasn’t always all roses but I choose to only focus on the rosy parts and not the thorns.

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Chigamba Notice Chambati
1935-2012

From the bottom of my heart, I will always love you Dad.

Not Blogging so well

I really don’t think I have been using my blog for the purpose which I intended.  But I guess it comes from the Virgo need for perfection and therefore only uploading carefully thought through and written articles.  So I am going to get the stick out of my arse and start blogging as and when the fancy takes me! I pledge to do the following:

  • Blog when the bug bites
  • Blog my frustrations
  • Blog about fashion and beauty
  • Blog the things I am loving at any particular time
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Pinterest

Speaking of things I love, I stumbled on Pinterest a few months ago and I have been stuck in that vortex ever since!  The world wide web has never been revealed to me to such an extent!!  I have many a times found myself sitting in front of my computer and all I could think of was Facebook, Twitter and some gossip sites then I met Pinterest ❤  it was love at first site!  Ok so some of you might not know what Pinterest is and might ask What the hell is Pinterest?  well Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting”.   So for example, I love food, fashion, crafts and home decor so I can get pictures that link to websites on all of these things I am interested in and I can follow users who have the best “pins” Ideas, how-to’s, recipes and tips.

You have to see it to understand the intrigue but be warned, some people have been known to enter Pinterest and never find their way back to conventional internet use.

www.pinterest.com

Hair Despair

So I have been natural for a full 2 years now and I am still pretty much in love with my hair au natural. Unfortunately, like all great love affairs, we are no longer in the honeymoon phase!

Yes, I love my hair but sometimes I just don’t like it.  Why am I not in like with my hair at the moment?

1. The growth rate is like a one legged sloth climbing up a very tall tree

2. My natural hair has at least “50 shades of brown”

3. Notwithstanding countless attempts to nurse my edges back to life I still have bald patches on my hairline

4. One can only wear their hair in an afro puff for so long before one gets Afro puff fatigue

5. I must have Martian blood because the texture of my hair can only be described as nondescript!

Speaking of hair texture, during the hours I spend trawling the internet for hairstyling tips and ideas, I have noticed that a certain level of backsliding is taking place when it comes to the attitude towards the texture of African women’s hair.  I thought the whole idea was embracing our natural texture regardless of whether it is bone straight, wavy, curly or kinky!  I clearly missed the memo in this respect as I am starting to notice a certain amount of uniformity in the texture of African women’s hair once again.

Clearly the “Good Hair” attitude is still very prevalent and kinky haired girls like me are finding it harder and harder to deal with the texture of hair that is coiling its way out of our scalps, so what are we doing about it?  We are braiding and twisting and shingling all with the hopes that when we wake up in the morning we will have that curly/wavy textured hair.  Some are fortunate enough to have hair that cooperates in this respect but if your hair is like mine… it will look wavy for 45 seconds before popping back into a frizzy fro – like magic. This usually leaves us feeling baffled and full of despair as we can’t understand why we our hair fails to take on this much coveted texture!  Many a time I have watched a teary woman talk about how her natural (4c hair type) is bringing her down and another lamenting how much money she has spent on products that promised to give her that curly hair, with no joy.

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Revolution? or lost cause?

As usual this has opened up the way for the great minds in the hair industry to help us “fake it till we make it”.  A whole new family of products has been developed full of creams, puddings and custards (no it’s not time for dessert yet) to get curlier hair and if it’s too stubborn we can texturize it to get the desired effect.  This is fantastic as always, but is this why we shaved our heads, transitioned for 14 months or kept our hair natural from birth?  So that we can once again shun the natural texture and try to be someone else?

It seems at the end of the day we still have a long way to go before we can truly accept ourselves as black women, whether we have chocolate skin and kinky steel wool textured hair or caramel skin and curly lamb’s wool hair.

We are black and we are beautiful, if we can’t love ourselves how can we expect anybody else to?  I’m just saying!

How do people view hair texture in your part of the world?

Natural Revolution

I don’t know what it is about Friday, but I always get the strong urge to write something.  Actually I know what it is about Friday… it’s the 4 days that come before it!  It’s been a dramatic week for me y’all but that is a story for another day.

So anyway sometime during the week the film “Good Hair” by Chris Rock was screened and I didn’t really concentrate but I did watch some of it.  The part that interested me most was the Relaxers discussion, what they are made off and the effect they have on your scalp – burns and permanent hair loss- and some of the possible long term effects on your health.  I have been relaxer free for 2 full years now and so I wasn’t too concerned by what I heard.  I did however start thinking about all my family and friends and worst still the children, I have seen 2 year old’s in the salon getting relaxes on their little baby heads!

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Kiddie Perms how much safer are they?

From as far back as I can remember, natural black hair was just not an acceptable style to rock.  Who remembers the stretching comb?  Many a weekend was spent sitting dead still whilst my sister raked my hair with the red hot stretching comb whilst the aroma of burning hair filled the room and the sizzle of the petroleum jelly filled my ears!  Then when I got older I was allowed to get a perm, oh how I loved my greasy curly hair, I would even pull down a strand in the front so I could look like Michael Jackson.  Later in high school we discovered the straight perm, finally, we had arrived. But no sooner had we “arrived” when the new kid on the block stepped up to claim its spot in the hair care industry.  The Relaxer.  I remember my first Relax, I was 18 years old and I got my hair cut and relaxed and tonged, I was fly enough to star in one of those SWV music videos I tell you! For years I followed the routine of bi-weekly shampoo and set and 6 weekly relax to keep my hair tight and I never once thought there could be anything wrong with my hair care regime.

In many circles in Africa a girl stepping into a place rocking natural hair is looked at as if she had walked into the place with a bundle of wood on her head and dragging a goat behind her!  Natural hair is seen as rural, unsophisticated or you are just too broke to get your hair done.

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Solange Knowles

 

But is that true?  Is that why so many African American celebrities have suddenly shorn their locks and started wearing their natural hair, or could they be on to something here?

Fast forward to today, where I am better educated on hair issues and no longer relax my hair. (my transition to natural hair is described in a previous blog)   There is a major revolution mainly in the USA encouraging women to wear their hair in its natural form, in this instance the definition of natural hair would be the texture of the hair is not chemically altered (I don’t even know why most women still relax their hair anyway, they haven’t stepped outside without a weave or a wig since Toni Braxton stopped wearing that short cropped hairstyle!).  So now I want to bring that revolution here, to my African sisters.

As part of my revolution I am going to bring you articles with the following information

  • The benefits of wearing your hair natural
  • how to transition from relaxed to natural hair
  • Tips on how to care for your natural hair
  • Great products for your natural hair
  • Lots and lots of style inspiration for your hair
  • Interviews with some of you –Relaxed, transitioning, and Naturalistas
  • And maybe even some giveaways!!

Lets love the hair we were born in.

Its your Opinion… You are entitled to it

Have you ever found yourself at the point of making a very important decision and then freezing at the thought of what others would think or say about your decision?  The many different imagined scenarios, the advice and warnings, the fear of going ahead with the decision and being told “we told you so” when you fail! Worse still having your choice laughed at and ridiculed? Plays out like a bad nightmare, the kind where you wake up screaming and confused!  You have probably had this experience at least twice… just today.

You might have heard this tale before, but I will tell it to you anyway:

“A man and his son went to a market to buy a donkey.  On their return from the market as the two walked alongside their donkey they passed a group of farmers, the farmers laughed and pointed at how stupid they looked walking when they had a donkey so the Son climbed atop the donkey whilst the Father walked alongside, as they continued on their way they met another group of people who shook their heads at what they saw, “such disrespect for the Elderly” they said.  “Should it not be the Father riding the donkey rather than the young strong son?” upon hearing this, the son climbed down from the donkey and the Father climbed onto the donkey and rode it whilst the son walked alongside.  Further still down the road they met yet another group of people who laughed uproariously?  “look at the lazy man riding whilst his poor boy walks why does he not let him get up on to the donkey so both of them can ride?!”  Again upon hearing this, the son got back up onto the donkey behind his father and the two rode the donkey down the road.  If only that was the end of it…  Further down the road the unfortunate pair met the last group of farmers “Look at those two lazy fools, just because it is a beast of burden doesn’t mean it must be burdened by their fat lazy carcasses, let them carry the donkey so that they can see how it feels!”  Yep you guessed it, the father and son got down from the donkey and indeed carried it on their backs down the road all the way home.”

There are 2 morals here:

1. You can’t please everybody

2. Don’t let people tell you what to do with your Ass!

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Cover your Ass!!

It’s funny how major life changing decisions, decisions that are personal in nature always have to take into account someone else’s opinion, an opinion that has no basis and is probably very ill informed.  When buying a car, rather than thinking about the cost implication, and our personal preference, we think ‘what will our friends or family say? Will they be suitably impressed? What would work colleagues say? Will the church think I am rich and should therefore contribute more? Or will they think it is too flashy a car?’  What about when choosing a potential partner? Do we think about that person’s compatibility to us or do we think about what people will say about that person’s appearance, race, nationality, financial status or even gender?

I wish everyone could make their decisions based on what I thought.. Just imagine it!  Nobody would drive a car except me (save on the gas emissions, safe for the environment and all) All beautiful sexy women – except me – would wear hijab and all hot men would walk around shirtless, 50% of the world’s population would be dead because I thought they needed to eat S*** and die and everyone would exist on a strict low carb diet.  Ok so maybe a little bit extreme but it is my opinion and everyone is entitled to one!

And that is exactly the point.  Everyone has an opinion; everyone will always have their own opinion.  Whatever we decide to do with our lives, to one person it will be the right choice and to another the worst decision ever.  The worst damage we do to ourselves is in fact imagining what people are thinking when they have no thought on the matter at all and in fact couldn’t care less what we decide to do with our lives!!

At the end of the day we need to make the choices based on what is right according to our own personal opinion and not other people’s opinions imagined or fact.  So whether you are in love with a Rasta or your favourite car is a Fiat 500 or you choose to paint for a living or write, it’s your choice because at the end of the day you have to live with that decision.

“My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right.”