Progress: Flip IT! (mental and spiritual health – part 1)

I woke up this morning with slight anxiety. Anxiety that makes itself know to me from time to time, especially when I over analyse and dwell on situations (predictably, the situation was regarding finances) – even with positive quotes filled on my social media feeds! It’s easy to take that trip from time to time. But the important thing is not to let those feelings conquer your life, your emotions and your actions.

One train of thought that has been popping up more recently is identifying You as your best friend. ‘The Casual Artist‘ made this aware to me when we had a Skype consultation. During my childhood, I have always felt that I was my own worst enemy. I even have a distinct memory of receiving a report card when I was in year 6, with the teacher stating that ‘Meron can be her own worst enemy’. Once I told the Casual Artist this, he flipped it up and asked me this question: ‘Can you say to me the total opposite of that statement?’

I first stumbled. It was really hard, and I didn’t get why. But he broke it down to me and eventually I stated that ‘Meron is her own best friend’.

I was truly amazed by this. I had never thought of seeing my self in this way at all! Bizarre.

I am my own best friend….Meron is her own best friend. Meron..is…her own…best friend. That makes total sense! It’s the complete OPPOSITE of what I’ve been making myself accustomed to. And so I say to you: FLIP IT. Any negative or niggling statements that have prevailed in your life, ask yourself what is the total opposite of that statement. Then say it back to yourself. 

As an artist, as a human being carving a fulfilling career for myself, there’s still days like this morning where I stumble. However, I’ve been really progressing with being more resilient. Showing appreciation for what I do have. I have time and some means to do what I love. To do develop my work. To create alliances as well as art and change my way of life for the better. Some ladies my age, have been forced into marriage, enslaved, don’t have access to clean water. So hey, how can I complain right? I have some privileges in some sorts and I need to exercise those, if not for myself, than for the people who can’t.

Gratitude is a great attitude.

I will be making another post on mental health and spirituality concentrating on why this is so important to discuss in our community. Especially the ‘black’ communities, where it’s still such a stigma to receive counselling or psychotherapy. So stay tuned!

Stay blessed,

Meron x

 

 

Africa Utopia is Here!

So for the second time, the Southbank Centre is hosting Africa Utopia, which explores the many dynamic and creative cultural elements of Afrika and its affects on the world.

The first thing when I encountered the food market is the sounds of the vibrant, bold beats of African music and the sumptious smells of Caribbean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, South African and Kenyan food. Oh my gosh.


As I drift away from the outside market and navigate towards the Royal Festival Hall (where the inside events take place), I see lots of beautiful accessories and clothes with glamourous prints. Yellow, orange, wood, metal, cottons, rayons, the chitter-chatter of negoatiations and the bored looks of the chidren helping out their mamas on the stall.

Finding something to observe or participate in is not hard as there are so many events and opportunities. Take for example ‘Meet [the Author] Chibundu Onuzo’. At 25 years old, with two books under her belt (The spiderking’s Daughter and Welcome to Lagos – which is coming out soon!), a coloumnist for The Guradian and overall diva, she has a  young yet impressive quality about her! She was very quick with her back-handers and wit which made us all laugh.

This is her response when asked about her political stance as a hypothetical Nigerian politician: “Am I here to talk about my political ambitions or about my book!” I get you Chibundu. It’s not the one for me either. Despite that, she did answer well referring to education, female sanitation and the high levels of youth unemployement and crime.

In terms of fashion, my partner and I discovered a great talk about lookng beyond African prints in the fashion industry, as it can stereotype some African fashion designers! Unfortunately, we got hungry so we ate and missed the catwalk that was after.

The last day of the festival is tomorrow, Sunday 4th September. If you haven’t been before, or you like African culture and want to explore, please go! Visit the Southbank Centre’s website which will tell you the schedule if you’re pressed for time.

Enjoy!

M x

 

 

 

100 days of mini creations!

Today I have decided to challenge myself and set up a #100daysproject on Instagram. I had seen it before through other people’s social media pages especially that of @elstriggs – an AWESOME illustrator who is pregnant with her first child and documenting it on IG.

I feel that when it comes to routine, I’m terrible. Like I literally have to  force my self to brush my teeth everyday. And I got to the point where I’ve seen so many inspirational videos and articles and advice from family and friends to work hard to succeed. I feel I really haven’t been stepping up. I’ve also read that it takes about 60 days to make or break a habit. So WHEN (not if, when- trying to be positive!) I manage to complete this challenge, it will put me in a better headspace to know I can acheive what ever I put my mind to it, even it is a small task!

The challenge: post on IG everyday for 100 days a visual postcard. This could be a drawing, a poem, a story, a painting or whatever really that is like a snapshot of the day or a significant moment that is memorable. To challenge my creativity!

This challenge is mainly just for me. If no-one gives it a like or a damn, I really don’t care! Lol. If it does, thanks 🙂 It’s about proving something to myself, making myself accountable for my art, thickening my skin (so to speak) of the good, the bad and the ugly that I may share. Hopefully it ain’t too ugly. But thats’s life. Sometimes my work may not be where I want it to be but that’s okay. Just move on and keep creating.

 

 

Look beyond the label.

Labels are everywhere, right? You have Gucci, you have Autistic, you have Terrorist, Millionaire, Gluten-Free, Smart, Tourist, Organic, Quiet, the list goes on. How positive and how useful are labels though? We have them in society for convenience of categorisation. It’s easier to classify someone or something as a label as it seeks to identify and associate an idea or a schema to that label. But I find it so damaging. 

You have White, Black, Asian, Latina, Poor, Rich. And you have a lot of stereotypes. 

This really annoys me. 

It annoys me because people are lazy or perhaps don’t have the time to look beyond the label to see who or what it is that they are dealing with.

Black: We all associate the term Black with negativity. And the ‘black race’ (i.e. people of African descent) with negativity. At least refer to people as Brown. That would be more logical. And it’s even more odd when people assume that I must be mixed race because I don’t look ‘black black’. What’s that even supposed to mean? “Oh right, you’re not in the ‘Black’ club so I’m not going to respect your ancestors?” It’s an issue that many people of Ethiopian and Eritrean descent face including me, as we have features very much similar to that of Arabs or European. 

Ethiopia geographically and genetically is at the birthplace of the Homosapien whether people care to recognise or appreciate it, or not. We are about as ‘black’ as you can get – if you were to refer to that scale. As a continent, Africa is the most genetically diverse in the entire world and Africa is pretty huge. People forget. It’s bound to be genetically diverse. What people are really referring to when they mean ‘black’ is people from west African societies as there are probably more descents of West African/Bantu origin outside of Africa then the other ethnic societies in Africa ( although Ethiopians are everywhere, especially in Washington D.C.). And don’t get me started on those Ethnicity Monitoring Forms which get you to label yourself into a nice little box. For me, ‘Black British African’ or sometimes I don’t even state it. 

Labels are damaging and it needs to stop or at least people need to look beyond the label  a bit more. That goes the same for clothing labels. Kanye loves him some Louis V. and they sure love his money and advertising! I personally don’t always buy into labels, both economically and psychologically. I’m not going to spend £2,000 on a designer handbag just because it’s popular or a status of wealth. Especially if I know I’ve got bills to pay and food to buy. I’ll buy a handbag because it looks cute and is functional and I actually like it for what it is. Not the label.

Living that Art life

I have a very vivid memory of me sprawled out on my uncle’s living room floor, with the sun beaming in, and a colouring pencil in my hand, creating away on a piece of paper. My uncle then asks attentively, “So Meron, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m assuming to confirm actions of the joyous but relaxed mood I was in.

“Hmm, either an artist or a doctor”

He then asked which one I would choose if I had no choice but to pick one. I hesitated for a bit, but I confidently said artist. I was about 9 or 10 years old at the time so I was pretty aware about different occupational roles. I always remember that memory because I feel like it’s what I am meant to be. And the more I think about it, the more it resonates with me. Usually the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ is often ignored in later adult life. But lately, I’ve been trying to listen to what my intuition tells me. I think the reason I said both options of an artist or a doctor, is because I want to help people, but I love art and have received more compliments about it then anything else I do.

And it’s so funny because I literally am drawn towards art therapy as a career change! I love psychology and eventually I want to blend the two worlds – art and psychology – together into a nice little world of my  own.

But that art life though!

I’ve only JUST started exposing my art work on social media and online. I’m so bloody defensive of my work, as predictably by my artistic nature, I’m a sensitive soul. Don’t get me wrong, sensitivity is a great thing to have but if your skin isn’t that thick, it’s painful. Luckily, my skin is growing ever more thicker, which is great but I still have some way to go. There’s so many doubts niggling at you like an itchy nose – ‘But I can’t do this!’, ‘I’m not a real artist’, ‘Who’s going to be interested in what I have to show?’, and the classic ‘I’m not good enough’.  Aye aye aye!

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

I am good, I am kind, I am enough.

(repeat until less stressed)

…That’s better.

It’s my new mantra thing. It isn’t a permanent solution but it’s a good way to centre my emotions. I know I can do this. Live a life more dedicated to practising art and using it to help others. Essentially that’s my life goal. To help others using art. I’m still not sure how exactly but I think along the art therapy route. One thing is for sure – I just to keep creating, stop the self judgement and do it for me. Not to prove anything or to show off but for me.

And in honour of this post, I’ve featured my latest painting/selfie. What do you think is going on?

Uncertain times: the Brexit decision. Keep Calm and Carry On?

Friday 8.15 am, 24th June 2016 (GMT – London time)

Big history was made.

I heard wailing in the living room of mother’s house where I stayed over for the night. Be sure to to believe I  voted remain. I crossed that box with assertion and speed, in hope others would do the same at the polling station.

‘No!’ my sister screamed.

I snuck into the living room and realised the future of our nation: ‘Great’ Britain had apparently decided that it wanted to leave the European Union. Face palm. This is my reaction on Facebook:

fb

And some hilarious reactions:

Twitter 1

 

twitter2

48.1% voted to remain, 51.9% voted to leave. Only about 1 million or so votes difference.

I discovered that most of the votes made from London were to remain, as opposed to the majority of communities outside of London, predominately England and Wales. Scotland however, decided to remain!

Now, hear this. I DO NOT believe people actually knew what they were voting for. The media, as per usual, has and still sensationalises the Brexit debate and other topics of British concern.

Immigration. Immigration, Islamic terrorists, Immigration.

Like a wave of chants uttered by the misguided. I admit I may not have a meticulous knowledge of the pros and cons of the debate. But one thing that DOES make sense: the world is better when we are connected. Having an ideology that separating the UK from the rest of the world, or what Nigel Farrage calls it with delight, “Independence Day”, will bring more prosperity and a ‘Greater’ Britain, is to me bollocks. It’s clear that many British people are disturbed by people who come to the Britain to work and get a better life for themselves and their families. There are two main types of immigrants; economic and political. The hustlers and the freedom fighters (in other terms). Yes, there are people who come to the UK to abuse the welfare system, but there are also those who are British and abuse it anyway. The welfare system is corrupt and broken. So is housing. So for people who want to chant religiously to the rest of the world about how people are taking their jobs; please, hustle a little. If you are going to blame anyone, blame this suits in the banks, sitting on the their piles of gold whilst they laugh at you and make all your decisions for you. As ‘the people’, the members of public, we are stronger as a large community, than smaller communities with hate and angst at each other. Living in the UK can have a lot of benefits (not only the welfare kind), but it also isn’t easy, for anyone.

As a second generation Londoner, in my opinion, we are a divided nation. Scotland wants out, London wants out. The referendum just displays a mirror of the cracks which actually can be a good thing. The reality will sink in.

I know this post sounds very pessimistic, and quite uncharacteristic of me, personally, sometimes I feel I do need to point out the realities as it is very concerning! Although processes wont take full effect until around 2018, I feel very uncertain and cautious about the state of the the UK.

Although that being said, I’m not totally pessimistic. London does have such potential and is a melting pot of cultures, which I love. And to be fair, things probably will still feel the same, so I’m not in total panic mode.

Still, plans are in place to move abroad, ha! Maybe just temporarily.

“What’s that Los Angeles… you say you’re wanting to get more young, creative Londoners in the area? Sure! I’ll be there in a jiffy! Oh wait, is Donald Trump going to be your next president? I see! Hmm.” The grass does seem greener on the other side…

Decisions, decisions.

 

 

 

My next holiday adventure awaits! 

I’ve just booked a short vacation to Florence for 3nights in August with a dear friend of mine. 

I’ve never been to Italy but I’m hoping some of you out there might help me with some trip ideas! Yes (as pictured) I have my paper back travel guide but it’s so much better to have people’s experiences. 

Of course there is TripAdvisor but still, I would love some comments on the best places to eat, have ice cream, photo ops etc. I’ll be sure to let you guys know come August how it went 🙂 

Ciao x

“Go get a job!”

My friend and I were in central London, enjoying our ice creams. We turned to a road leading to Tottenham court road,  at which point I saw a BIG ISSUE seller already approaching a woman eating outside the restaurant. If you’re a Londoner, you almost always see a Big Issue representative outside stations, tourist attractions, public facilities. I see one at my local train station. I’ve even started conversations with one more mature lady to find out why she was there and given money. And most of the time you know why they’re there. Even if you’re not  from London, the person usually doesn’t look well groomed so you can assume their begging for money (the Big Issue foundation is a homelessness organisation giving jobs to homeless people selling Big Issue magazines on the streets, as well as other things)

“GO GET A JOB!” she screams, angrily and annoyed at this young BIG issue man trying to sell her a magazine.

He’s shocked. And so am I.

He walks off muttering to himself in amazement at how rude this woman is. “Go get a job, pfff!’

…How can she say that? That’s my first reaction. I mean she’s sitting there eating her gourmet food, telling him to go find a job. RAS CLAAAATT. REALLY???? He’s got a job selling magazines! It may not be her ideal job but it’s honest hard graft- he’s making a positive step to reclaiming his life, regardless of what happened to him, whether he became addicted to drugs, or stole or whatever would make you homeless. He’s seeking steps to help himself. And no one should knock a person down for that. NO ONE. Woman need to check herself.

Even if he was being persistent and being annoying, there’s no need to speak to a human being like that. Just keep saying no. Ignore him even if you have to. I was vexed to be honest, and I had afterthoughts of how I would have gone up to that lady and given her a piece of my mind. Told her how ugly her attitude is. How she shouldn’t be angry at him, she should be angry at the government for not doing more to support homeless, unemployed people. For not doing more to help people with mental health concerns, young people with low self esteem as well as other issues. The government has let us down with its dodgy political, social and financial infrastructure. A person can abuse the welfare system so easily, and live like a king or queen by not working and claiming benefits, but then you have people struggling for their lives not getting a penny or a pound in welfare. The system is screwed. Shouting at homeless people to get a job does not help that person. We don’t know what that person is going through, emotionally, socially, psychologically, physically. So how are you gunna just shout at this person! Serious!

I walked off before the aftermath (or maybe there wasn’t?), but I hope she can think about her actions. And I hope the seller doesn’t get too disheartened by her words, but gives him more of a desire to succeed. Life isn’t easy no matter what background you come from, so we need to help each other. So please, be mindful of other and mind the gap.

Rant over.