Worn out obsession

As I devour a peaceful moment  with birds, the river, wild flowers and comforting wind and with B fast asleep, I can’t help but notice and think about these well-old, well-worn trainers that I bought 11 years ago. I’ve got many a pairs of worthy trainers, converse and shoes at home, but these are my go to and will be for a while. They’ve seen me through my uni days, jobs, travelling through Asia, and now walks with the little one. I won’t ever want to part with you my worn out obsession.

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‘I can’t Breath’

I seldom have nightmares, quirky and weird dreams yes, but not nightmares. But I did yesterday. Dont remember the context but I do remember some strange thing happening in the dream and my life was in danger. Petrified, I tried to tell my sister and mum who were in my dream but they just wouldnt have any of it. Things were getting tensed, I was panicking.
I couldn’t breath.
I couldn’t get out of it. I screamed.
I guess I actually screamed which woke S up and he woke me up from the dream.
Thank goodness it was a dream.
I can breath.

Not a psychotherapist but I have always been fascinated with dreams and their interconnection with your subconscious feelings.I guess my brain really wont let me off unless I stop running away, reflect and write about my feelings and process them.

Past few days, I purposely steered away from all the posts and news about George Floyd and protests because I knew I couldn’t  afford to think about what he must have felt before he was murdered, what his family and friends are feeling right now, and what the world is feeling. I did however look up photos of him when he was alive, read about his life and his tragic death, and it’s been enough for me to say that I’m affected. I’m truly and painfully affected and I cant not write about it.

Being an ethnic minority myself, I know my fair share of what prejudice and racism can look like. I’d also be lying if I dont say that I’ve recieved far more appreciation, curiosity and relatibility towards my culture and ethnicity than prejudice or illtreatment.

What George and millions of others recieved and continue to receive is not that. What they recieve is hatred, abuse, biased thoughts and beliefs. Bad illustration this may be but when you see the white and juicy insides of an apple, your brain conveys it’s good and you consume it. When you see an apple that’s black and mouldy, you frown and throw it in the bin. Unfortunately, its not just food that we associate black colour with bad.

I sadly cant do much for George Floyds departed soul or anyone affected. At the very least, what I can do is try and be honest about my own feelings and reflections.

‘Do you have any inhibitions, fears or challenges with any particular type of people?’, asked my practice teacher during our group reflective exercise in my final year social work placement. Uninhibited , i said black people when it was my turn. He enquired why. I said its because of the unwanted attention I’d been getting from international Nigerian students during Uni. After the exercise,  he shared that now that we had an awareness of our said challenges, we can stay stay reflective and aware of our own biased thoughts and feelings about people and the impact of it when working with people.

What I didnt say or figured out that day was what lied deep underneath. It wasnt the guys’ interest in me that bothered me, it was the fact that they were Nigerians. Had it been any other nationality, the teenage me probably wouldve enjoyed the attention.

I can point my finger at media or my culture that either mocked or feared someone with black skin tone. But the truth is, I had it in me (or may be still have it in me). I’m aware of it. I tried (may be still try) my best to not let it ever affect anyone in anyways. I truly wish that the police officer/s who took George’s life had a reflective practice session like I did before he went into policing. An innocent soul wouldnt have been lost. I also sincerely hope that every other police officers and people of different skin tone can have an uninhibited reflective thinking about their own innate biased feelings so that no other innocent lives would be lost or no one else would have to say ‘I cant breath’

#Icantbreath
#Blacklivesmatter

Backpacking across Asia part 1

Its been a week since we left home in UK seeking snippet views of a few handpicked countries in Asia that we have always fantasized about. Having covered 3 countries so far, living out of a backpack weighing 6.9kg or our inablity to verbally communicate were not the major challenges we encountered; the hardest challenge yet for me has been keeping up with the intensity of the experiences and the ‘moments’ each countries offer. For a person whose biggest insecurity is her memories, I find myself desperately trying to capture every corner of the places we visit through cameras and retrospectively record every feeling in my travel journal.

When planning our trip or hearing ‘this is once in a lifetime opportunity’ from family and friends when they eventually found out, I held my ground and kept my emotions in check. ‘My lack of enthusiasm’ may have confused a few but it wasn’t that I wasn’t enthused about the trip but rather my superstitious or anxious self took the better of me about not wanting to ‘jinx’ the trip (I know!) as it indeed was going to be a once-in-a-life-time trip.

When we go high and low looking for authentic places in each country, meet more kind people than unkind people on the way, indulge in delicious and sometimes unusual local delicacies; I find myself bargaining with time to give me one more second. Just one more second to soak it all in. But time is fair but unfair as some say. So I don’t get one more second. All I get is a camera to take pictures, a pen to write down the experiences and the heart to take in as much as I can.

The Japanese have a tradition that when they finish work, they go to the exit door, turn around and bow their head for a few seconds with utmost respect showing gratitude for their job. And Chinese believe that every person they meet are the ones they are destined to meet to bring something to their lives. As I enter each country, I will be on the lookout to meet kind faces that I’m destined to meet and as I exit, I will remember to bow my head in respect to say ‘thanks for this once in a life time opportunity’.

How 2018 has really been for me? A packet of bread!

You open a packet of bread, you see that hard piece of useless bread.. you are not a fan of it but you consume it anyway so you can get to the soft, smooth and normal pieces of bread.

So doing Newyears Resolution was something me and my sisters engaged in for years when growing up. Always hated it- never really worked for me, but did it anyway as a ritual with sisters because you know FOMO. However, this year, I couldnt wait to indulge in NYR and wrote down about 15 NYR and ticked off about 13 (ticked off 2 from my bucket list too! Yus!!!).

As a result, 2018 has been THE best year for me. I have lived and loved so much of it to the fullest extent. A year where I really pushed myself, started new things and counted my blessings with all my heart every day.

(Disclaimer on the bread packet):
The implulsive personality trait in me start things on a wimp and the passionate side of me then pursues it with blood and tears. Plus side of this: go-getter, downside: wouldnt know the stop button. Sterry who knows this about me set out a condition before I started my year, ‘do everything you want to do but the minute you get yourself burnt out and repeat the previous years, that would be the end of all the projects’. I happily signed the agreement by spitting and shaking thinking theres no way im gonna get burnt out this year, my time was spread out evenly and I’m doing everything I want to do.

The hard piece of bread vs smoother pieces:
So in the beginning of the year, I started my new job, my volunteering/social enterprise projects, fundraising projects and taking on more photography projects. It wasnt easy but in time, I was enjoying the smoother breads. I mean why wouldnt I? I was doing everything I am passionate about and enjoyed doing.

Bread meets Stale.
Half way through the year, I impulsively decided to stop eating meat and been pursuing it with difficulty. Id also stopped going for dance due to conflicting commitments. A bit of an unexpected piece of stale bread, but thats ok we’ll just deal with it and move on to the rest of the normal pieces. And so I did. Except there werent much left.

Last piece of hard bread:
Doing things that you love doing leaves you all high but it will also leave you quite dry. I preach about mental health and help people with emotional support for living. But ive been a hypocrite neglecting my own emotional and mental health. For the last 2.5 months, Ive been experiencing a lot of unpleasant changes. Lack of motivation for the things that I loved doing, de-sensitization, secondary trauma, feeling overhwhelmed and burnt out instead of feeling blessed, not wanting to go to the kitchen at all, no appetite, struggling to go into shower after work, struggling to get up early, not going to gym, not being able to pick up my much beloved books and read, sobbing every other night about missing meat (KFC!), taking a day off work, and above all, avoiding family and close friends who noticed some of these changes and advised me to ‘take it easy’ or ‘stop’

Im trained in seeing these things in others and helping them through it yet I failed to do the same for myself. I forgot to see the little signs throughout the year and had to wait till it got to the biggest signs and I was beyond repair. I missed out on a lot over the last 2.5 months because of that. No matter how many ticks you tick off during the year, if you work till you are unhealthy physically and mentally, and you miss out on lifes simplest yet most beautiful offerings, it cannot be considered as a succesful year.

Im working through my last piece of hard bread with great difficulty (a bit of peanut butter on the hard bread) and by trying to be kind to myself . It will not be easy but will be finished before i know it and prepare me right for my new packet next year.

Hope your bread packet has been great this year!

Woman

Amsterdam
An infamous city with an uncompromising beauty and characteristics.
Picturesque canals,
touching history
and mesmerising architecture.
Her extraordinary beauty and her seductive characteristics-
Resemblance of a quirky, confident yet humble woman uncanny.
Woman.
While entrapped in Amsterdam’s beauty,
the very same word kept circling my mind.
Woman.
A visit to Anne Frank’s secret annexe of 2 years
entrenched me with the feeling that
The most powerful weapon for a woman is her Voice
A walk down the lane where her body does all the talking
Made me think that her body perhaps is more acknowledged than her voice.
It may (or may not) be her Choice that led her go behind the glass doors
A choice that young Anne frank certainly did not have.
But as I walked and locked eyes with the young women behind the glass doors
sharing a half smile, longing for one in return
and mentally offering apologies for being on the other side,
watching them like animals behind cages,
I also wondered,
As a woman,
would it be my voice or my choice of selfie that would be more appealing to one’s eyes.

Summer without my cherry blossom

The very thing that I kept admiring every morning and evening and what I looked forward to the most this summer had been “trimmed” to the core. Why? Because this cherry blosson tree stood in someones way and blocked the ‘sun’ while he was sitting out with his phone in his newly done patio area. He demanded the landlord to cut it down completely who tactfully negotiated to “trim” it down. Now, Im aware that he is entitled to enjoy being out in the sun on his phone just like how im entitled to enjoy a cherrry blossom tree out of my window. What upsets me is that he values his money, his sun and his enjoyment over a tiny tree that took years to grow. Saddest thing? He is not on his own. We will continue to complain about the snow, the climate change and global warming..but the reality is when it comes to our own enjoyment..an innocent tree will be cut, for yours, mine and his sake!!
#Humanity

Fighting social injustice in my dream

I struggled a little bit to get out of bed this morning. Why you ask? Oh its just because I was up saving lives in my dreams last night.

Dreams are a funny lil thang. They offer you entertainment, moral lessons, creepy feelings and sometimes leave you with feeling rather bewildered. This certainly was the case for me this morning with my dream from last night.

So…….. Myself, my 2 sisters, and someone else (might have been my cousin) were at a family/family friends’ house party that was right beside our house. We were all high school children and had an exam the next day (😐). In the tiny room that we were hanging out there was another girl who was of a similar age to us. She dressed differently and looked different from us. She had a scarf over head with some jewellery covering her forehead. One of my crew members got talking to her and learnt that she was from some part of Africa. The girl was taken away from her home and was forced to become someones bride. Her ‘prospective groom’ was somewhere in the house, a face that she might have never seen before and a man probably born atleat 15 or 20 years before she did.

When I got up to leave the house party and go back to my house (to do the revision I am sure :/), one of my crew members asked me ‘why dont you take ‘her’ with you as well?’

Nothing was said. We thought of well devised plans to sneak her out of the house through the back way without any adults seeing us. And we did. With great difficulty ofcourse (mainly because of her anklets that were really noisy). We gave her a big tub of celebrations for the road (that definitely would be plenty to last till Africa!). This took all night apparently and we ended up getting back home at 8ish the next morning (missing the exam ofcourse!).

We look over to the house next to us where the party was held and see that the celebrations lid was lying on the ground. We go into the house, and see our father standing in the hall way. I say to him that the exam was hard and walk away. He suspects nothing. Next thing I know, my middle sister who is not as talented as i am in lying or being sneaky says to him that she heard his friends new child bride got away with a tub of celebrations last night! 😑. He looks bewildered.

We go to our room. And i say we need to come up with our responses to this and learn the same thing so we wont say anything different to the adults.

Fast forward to the climax (or slow forward); its the 16th century where me and my sisters were dressed in white and head all shaven traveling in a vehicle to the house where the party was held. We were being punished because we were women who did something horrible?! 😑

They open the door and let us in. We see the girl we tried to rescue standing there. She got caught half way. They lock the door behind us. She smiles at us. And l smile back thinking dyamnnn we gonna have a goòd time here!!!.

Conclusion:

1. Child marriage, exams, illtreatment towards women- Not acceptable to Archana Mathew.

2. Archana Mathew’s dreams should be made into movies and nominated for Oscar.

The End.

For real.

Much dreaded day of the year!

A much dreaded day is coming up for me. My birthday. A day that causes stress in me, my family and friends. This year though, instead of getting gifts, cards, messages and money, I decided to do something different. Below here are some of the causes that I believe in. It would mean the world to me, and make my day and my life so special if you can do any of these for me. Please do message me (privately) if you are able to do any of these, or your own thing if you’d like, and I will cherish that in my life forever.
Bring a box of chocolate to the local ambulance, fire station, A&E (or police station if you dare!)
Give motivational books, posters or materials to the local youth hostel near you. Alternatively, send me a donation for buying these things or send these things to me and I will personally deliver them to the local youth hostel that I work in.
Homeless people- 1, Give a fiver or tenner to a homeless person. 2, Create a care package with snacks, sandwiches, toiletries etc and give it to 5 homeless people. 3, Get to know a homeless person, get to know his/her circumstances and get him a sandwich of his choice for 4 weeks.
Donate money or clothes to your local Barnardos charity for children (or any children’s charity of your choice)
A donation for the older people’s cafe (LinkLiving)that I volunteer at (I will specify what the money will be used for later on).
Help elderly with their shopping.
Ask a shop assistant how his or her day has been.
If you have a grandparent who lives near you or with you, give him/her a hug and a kiss.
Leave a compliment under a young girls profile picture of herself.
Leave a note on your rubbish bin for the man/woman who collects your rubbish thanking them for their service.
Finally, if you are religious, say a little prayer for me to be always grateful for the life I have and blessings I have in life. And for my catholic friends and relatives, may be light a little candle or say a decade of rosary/divine mercy chaplet for me?
Thank you
I will be sure to have the best birthday this year!

A new day, a new start..an answer to my predicament.

6am,

Its dark, its cold,

And your life is on hold.

Muscles hurt, brain is frozen,

And you want to stay in bed for a reason.

Just a little bit more,

I’d wake up in 5

And it will be a new day,

A new start.

An answer to my predicament.

But hey,

That aint how it goes

I aint a snoozer

I dont wanna be a looser.

Hurt those muscles more,

Unfreeze the brain to the core, 

Put your reason to stay in bed on hold, 

And it will be a new day,

A new start,

An answer to my predicament. 

Lets put the world back together, piece by piece

In the days that are filled with pain,
In the world that is filled with negativity,
Lest we forget,
Evil cant fight evil
Evil wont fight evil

Lets put the world back together,
Piece by piece

Spread a little positivity
Smile at someone,
Wave at a stranger,
Feed the homeless, or give a fiver
Open the door for elderly,
Help a mother with her shopping bags
Do your bit.

Lets put the world back together,
Piece by piece.