Utter Chaos!

I sat gobsmacked watching the news last weekend. There was carnage in Paris – dead bodies sprawled out on the floor, attacks in 6 locations, every news channel repeated that there were over 100 people dead. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. I watched a shaky video recording of a pregnant woman hanging from a window trying to escape and an astonished young man relaying how his phone had saved him from a bullet. He missed death by about an inch. Utter madness.

Although it wasn’t covered in the news a great deal, the day before there was also a suicide attack in Beirut. 43 people died and 239 were seriously wounded. Reports stated that a man called Adel Termos who was walking with his daughter tackled a second suicide bomber to the ground and prevented him from killing more. Sadly Termos died in that attack. He will be remembered by many as a hero.

On the same day as the Paris attacks, in Baghdad, there was a roadside bombing and an explosion at a funeral. Just like that…innocent people were massacred whilst simply going about their normal activities. My heart goes out to all of the people affected. There are no words to describe what they must be going through.

Several people who knew about the latter incidents also highlighted that there was a lack of coverage in the media about Beirut and Baghdad and several other atrocities taking place in the world. On Instagram, many people criticised Tiwa Savage (a Nigerian popstar) for posting a ‘pray for Paris’ picture and asked if she had also remembered to pray for Nigeria.

Whilst I agree that the Western media should provide a much wider coverage of all terrorist attacks, I had to roll my eyes at some of the comments. Many called Savage a hypocrite, yet they have no idea how much she prays for or what anguish she feels for her own country. Wherever one is in the world, should one not have a right to mourn or show compassion for whoever they want without being told that their empathy is misdirected? Are people who live in Europe not allowed to feel shock that terrorism, which always feels so far away, has now been brought to their doorstep?

What happened in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris and everywhere there are such vile attacks, is incredibly sad and entirely devastating. However, I also believe that rather than criticising people who choose to show compassion for a specific incident, we as global citizens should take much more interest in what is going on in the world.

The mainstream media will respond to the demands of their consumers. Indeed, there were some news outlets that covered the Beirut and Baghdad bombings, but many of us didn’t see it, ignored or scrolled past it – because we have the misplaced perception that war in Baghdad, Beirut etc. happen all the time and is not our concern. That thinking needs to change. The attack in Beirut, for example, was the worst experienced in Lebanon since 2013, when 2 mosques were bombed in the coastal town of Tripoli. Attacks like that are not everyday events in Lebanon.

I’m not going to lie, I was completely shocked at what happened in Paris and as I took the train to work this morning, I pondered on the idea that the busy train we were on could be a pawn in some geo-political strategy and suddenly blow up at any minute. I mused on the consequences of France’s defiant retaliation strategy. I felt sad about the state of our world. I reflected on the fact that the UK was so close to France and wondered if we would ever need to get used to the idea that our homes could become a frontline of warfare. Life is fragile and it is precious everywhere. I whispered a prayer under my breath for God’s protection because we never know what tomorrow may bring.

 

 

The space to write

I was asked, where do I like to write.

I like to write wherever I feel comfortable. This is usually in the evening, when everyone has gone to sleep, when I’m warm and have salvaged some ‘me time’. When the house is silent and ideas have slowly begun whirring in my mind, I like to sit at the table hugging a warm drink and tap, tap my thoughts into sentences on my laptop.

I also like to write when I’m in my bed. First thing in the morning after I’m awake, still wrapped in the duvet, stretched out, and after having stared absent -mindedly at the wall for a few moments I like to flip out of bed, grab a note book and quickly capture my thoughts before they get lost to the dangers of perfectionism and over thinking.

Sometimes, I like to write when I’m on the train, squashed between one tired, irritable person and a smiling newspaper reader. The times when everyone around me is busy but preoccupied with themselves and I’m  lost in my thoughts and trying to impatiently hammer ideas into my smart phone before I am called or have to get off at my stop.

There are dozens of places I would love to write – in a rustic French cafe, on a comfy blanket by the sea, in a vintage chair by a large window, looking out onto a beautiful scenery – but these things don’t come every day – so yeah, as long as I’m comfortable and have some ideas I can write wherever basically…

10 things I love about you…

They say behind every successful man is a great woman. I don’t know about every woman, but I can definitely say that for me the reverse is also true. Behind a lot of my growth and key achievements has stood my husband. He has prayed for me, encouraged me, pulled me up when I’m not at my best and even when he annoys me he somehow always makes me smile. My husband is my rock. I love that after so many years we are still so close and have developed a rhythm. I love that we are a team. I pray that we forever share a love of God, travel, literature, food, movies and old homes with lots of character and modern comforts.

Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being my king, my best friend– a true captain of inestimable value. Here is to building a beautiful present and future. Here are the 10 things I love about you (amongst many and in no particular order :-)).

  1. I love the way you laugh. It is infectious.
  2. That I can still talk to you for hours about any and everything.
  3. How you love and respect me and constantly invest in our marriage.
  4. That you always kiss my forehead before you sleep.
  5. That you buy me apple crumble and custard whenever you go near my favourite crumble shop and that if you are home before me you always ask what I would like to eat.
  6. Wake me up super early to pray and encourage me to spend more time in the word.
  7. Set regular family goal review sessions to make sure we are both working towards fulfilling our vision.
  8. Send me random articles that stimulate my thinking.
  9. I love that you give me my space but also your time.
  10. That you are so fun and down to earth yet super disciplined.

On Writing…

I write because I enjoy writing.  It helps me explore my thoughts and express my understanding of the world around me.

I write because it helps me remember that I have learnt some things and am still capable of learning. In fact, writing reminds me that I am capable of anything. It helps me document my growth in areas that I would otherwise forget.

I write because I often struggle with writing and believe that is only through working on my craft that I can become better.

I write because I care about words – how they fit together, what they mean, imply and because I love how they carry all of our stories.

I write because my mother worked too hard for me not to try.

I write because I want my future children to be proud of me.

I write so I can be proud of myself.

I write to inspire others to be better.

I write because I can.

On body image…

I went to a children’s party a few weeks ago and a mother constantly prodded at her daughter’s stomach anytime she reached for anything sugary. She then turned to me in front of her and whispered loudly

“I wish my daughter was slim like all of these other girls. Seriously, I keep on asking her if she watches films. Does she see anyone her age looking like her? I mean think about it; you are like 3x times her age and she is about 4x your size”.

I shuddered. I couldn’t believe that this lady was speaking like this.

Although, I honestly feel that she meant well and was genuinely concerned about her daughter’s health and poor diet, I did not think this was an appropriate way to address the issue. It was embarrassing, extremely awkward and I hate to think about the effects that such comments had on the young girl’s self-esteem.

Throwback to my own childhood and I remember when my friends, as if they were body valuation experts, pointed out that my hips were ‘too narrow’ and that guys wouldn’t like me if I were ‘too small’. Prior to this, I had never really noticed my body. I was about 13 years old. As far as I was concerned, my hips were fine and my body was just my body. I hadn’t yet got to the point where I ‘understood’ that apart from fulfilling the functional roles of daily living; my body was also ‘supposed’ to be a sexual object that I should be concerned didn’t meet boys’ desires. Initially, I would eat loads and wear extra shorts under my jeans to try and look bigger. But afterwards, I decided that this was actually a ratchet look, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

But, what if I really took the views of my friend’s seriously? Last year, I came across the deeply disturbing news report of Joy Williams, a 23 year-old, from Thamesmead, South-London, who died after travelling to Thailand to have a £2,000 buttock augmentation surgery. It is believed that she was bullied and long struggled with issues of self-esteem.

So much is affected by how we feel about ourselves. It impacts the way we work, set and pursue goals, and the relationships we allow ourselves to be in. It is especially important to watch the way we speak to young people as they are still developing their self-identity. Moreover, I believe that personal incidents can be so much more pertinent in shaping our views about ourselves than social media. My conversation with my friends, for example, could have left me with the impression that my body is designed for men and that I should always dress or act to please them. The girl at the party could grow up believing that she just wasn’t good enough or lead her to become over-obsessed about food.

We have to learn to love ourselves and remind each other that we are all beautiful. Many people criticise the media for only presenting ludicrously high standards (and also one sided views) of beauty, yet we don’t check the way we speak to each other or the mind-sets that we have subscribed to. Now, I’m not saying that we should lie to people who are not taking appropriate care of themselves that they are doing well or excuse ourselves when we let ourselves go – but we should think about the impact of our words. We should also have informative discussions with each other about how we feel and ways that we can work together to all be better.