#tees for fees

#tees for fees

As my #loyal followers will know, in December last year I was offered a place on a Masters course in Education (Globalisation and International Development) at the University of Cambridge. I was both shocked and delighted when the offer letter came through, but immediately began to worry about the cost of the degree. The combination of tuition fees and maintenance costs is a total of £24,000. This is not a sum of money that I, or my immediate family, are able to cover.

In a bid to secure my place, I have been applying for and writing to many charitable organisations/foundations/businesses to acquire funding. So far I have enough to pay my tuition *happy dances* but I still need to prove that I can afford to live, eat and travel during the course of my time there. As of yet, the university itself has not granted my application of funding.

I am a very persistent and impatient person, so waiting for other people to make decisions about my future does not sit well with me. Therefore, I have decided to get a lil bit entrepreneurial (hello dragons den) and sell tees and totes to fund my time at uni!

The illustration features on the tees and totes was designed by Kim, who goes by @wheelygooddoodles on insta and features sketched portraits of the women that cheer me on and inspire me to do this degree (and every damn day in fact). These printed tees and totes were designed with the intention of celebrating powerful women in all of their glory. My friends are artists, scientists, philanthropists, nurses, athletes, financial experts and political geniuses, but most of all they are unstoppable. It’s worth noting that it was extremely difficult to pick just nine of my girl gang, all of my friends are legends.

The illustration by @wheelygooddoodles

“Buy this t-shirt of the everyday inspirational woman, to support an everyday inspirational woman.” – Adut Ayik 2019

If you’re interested in supporting, both products are available to buy here. Tees are available in sizes XS-4XL. Both products are made from organic cotton and can be shipped worldwide.

If you don’t care about tees or totes but want to support financially anyway, you can do so by clicking here!

Let me tell you about my mates (obviously this isn’t the extent of their qualities and talents, just a taste)…

Adut

Adut and I living our best lives in Marrakech

Where do I even start with Adut? Did you know this girl has TWO Masters?! Her intelligence is astounding, but her ability to empathise, rationalise and express herself in a way that doesn’t damage others is so much more important. Adut is not afraid to tell me when I’ve screwed up and she’s ready to listen when I think she has too. She’s always there to chat to me when I’m ranting about politics in the UK and abroad (watch out for our podcast #HotlineBling). I don’t think I have ever laughed as much when I’m with somebody, when we come together the behaviour is shambolic in the best kind of way. There isn’t a friendship like this one. She should also be a model tbh, the definition of SNATCHED.

Alice

Alice and I attending a Sports Awards ceremony at uni

Alice is another one of my crazy intelligent friends. She’s currently studying a PhD and just presented at a conference in Chicago?! Your fave could never. This girl proofread my UG dissertation and my Cambridge application so she’s basically the only reason I’m suceeding academically lol. Alice is also hella passionate about the best sport in the world, netball! Ask her anything about this year’s Netball World Cup and she’ll tell you everything you need to know and more. Alice will always support me in crodough eating and all other emotional endeavours. We once dressed up as Damian and Janis from mean girls (I was obviously Damian), so that tells you everything you need to know about our friendship.

Carol

Me n me mam on Christmas Day last year

Carol is my flipping mum!!!! She’s also potentially one of the funniest people I’ve ever met (other than myself obvs). We have been through some crazy crazy times together. We have laughed, cried, grieved, fought and loved. My mum has remained resilient throughout all of this and is in a much better place now because of this attitude she has to life. My mum is also ACE because she is a nurse and we all ❤ the NHS right?! She has quite literally saved people’s lives and is now in charge of training the next generation of nurses in the UK. What a woman.

Deanna

Deanna and I in the toilets of our SU bar. I kept that fur jacket on all night #MansNotHot.

Deanna is the definition of a girl boss. As well as being an excellent historian and #academic, she also knows how to kill it on the netball court and throw a$$ on the dance floor. She has and will achieve great things because she cultivates an amazing energy and atmosphere in every room she walks into. She is a natural born leader and does it ever so gracefully. You can also find her being a Queen B stan on Twitter or stunting in a two piece suit on the gram. Did I mention that she set up a GoFundMe on my behalf? THAT’S MY PRESIDENT!

Grace

Grace and I at God’s Own Junk Yard. Grace did a photo shoot because she is Grace.

Grace is a creative genius. The end. Seriously though, talent just oozes out of this girl. Since the day we met in our first year of uni, she has been an incredible supporter of everything that I do. She’s photographed things for my blog, depop, charity events and everything in between! She’s a real one. Grace also has an extensive back catalog of puns and vine references that have got the both of us through some very difficult times. One of my favourite memories is trying (and failing) to steer a boat around Lake Bled with her and having to be rescued by somebody that worked at the boat renting place. I think that sums us up nicely.

Helena

Helena and I reunited in London during Easter this year.

Helena is my wisest friend. Period. This girl has helped me navigate some very difficult decisions and emotions. Helena is quick to put me at ease whenever I am worried about something, she speaks truth and life into every situation. I look forward to meeting up with Helena because our conversations are authentic, our laughs are loud and our outfits are on fleek. Helena is a force to be reckoned with and I feel so grateful to have her in my life. Love you long time girl.

Latia

Latia and I at our grad ball on a boat on the River Thames.

Latia is the very real embodiment of the word legend. She’s that friend that ALWAYS has your back, from helping you do a tampon collection for charity to leaving the club early with you to get KFC. She’s also half of the fabulous pair of angels that decided to set up a GoFundMe on my behalf. I love her so very dearly (and I’m still baffled/impressed that she studied dental materials at uni – what even is that?!). My favourite memory of latia is her crying on a party boat in Kavos (don’t ask) because she managed to get tickets to see Nicki Minaj. I bloody love you Latia.

Mary

Mary and I at a church youth event in London soon after I returned from living in India for 3 months (Mary defo consumed ketchup this day).

Mary is the type of person who insists on putting tomato ketchup on EVERYTHING, much to my continued disappointment. She could also eat all of the biscuits in your house in one sitting whilst simultaneously dead-lifting your dad. Mary is not afraid of telling me that my behaviour is ridiculous and will happily serenade me via voice note or whatsapp video on my bday. When Mary isn’t doing any of these things, she is helping out the good people of the UK, ensuring they get all of their coin in her job at the financial ombudsman. Mary, I love you as much as you love plain food.

Natasha

Natasha and I at our fav roof top bar in Marrakech.

Natasha. Last but certainly not least. Natasha is one of those people who pretends that they don’t have any emotions and people fall victim to her resting bitch face on a daily basis. In reality, Natasha is one of the most loving people I know. It doesn’t matter if you’re friends, family or a complete and utter stranger, she knows how make you feel welcome and wanted. Natasha is a hostess at heart, I’ve been at her house more times than I can count, it has been a haven for me during difficult times (side note: her and her mum’s cooking is the best). She’s also a saint for putting up with me and Adut being problematic on several occasions. You’re the best, friend.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope is has brightened your day.

All my love, han X

may reflections

may reflections

*freaks out that we are almost halfway through the year*

As Mental Health Awareness Week falls in May, I wanted this months reflection questions to prompt us to focus on the things that make us smile, as well as addressing whether we are looking after ourselves enough.

Here are the questions:

  • What made you smile this month? List those things.
  • When did you feel happiest in your skin? Why?
  • Did you maintain balance in your life this month? Is there anything you need to change in order to achieve this?
  • Did you have a particularly bad day this month? What happened? How did you handle it? Is there a way you can handle it better?
  • Why are you unique? What makes you, you?
  • How did you practice self care this month? How can you make sure you practice it enough in June?
  • This month I felt amazing when…

all my love,

han X

(p.s. you can sign up for my monthly newsletter here)

april reflections

april reflections

I think that we can all agree that April was a pretty depressing news month (apart from the Old Town Road remix release obvs). We’ve seen natural catastrophes, horrific acts of terror and political chaos hit the headlines. Being constantly bombarded with news like this can lead us to feel helpless and apathetic, so I have decided to include some reflection questions that allow us to think about how we can make changes to our communities, and in turn, the world.

Before we start, I would like to acknowledge that doing too much can lead to burnout, remember that to be able to help others, you need to love yourself first. If you need a reminder of the importance of self care, read this.

As always, you do not have to answer all of these questions, they are merely a starting point for you to use in order to dive into your own time of reflection.

Take a deep breath, here we go:

  • Which adjective describes how I feel about this month?
  • Which colour represents how I feel about this month?
  • Is there a particular news story/issue that has bothered me recently? (e.g. climate change/terrorism/lack of democracy/homelessness) Why is it bothering me? How can I turn this negative emotion into a positive?
  • Can I get involved in volunteering in this area within my local community?
  • Are there any books/podcasts/online courses that will help me to understand this issue on a deeper level?
  • Can I make any small changes to my routine to save the planet?
    (e.g. investing in a reusable water bottle, walking instead of driving, remembering my reusable bags at the supermarket, eating less meat) If yes, what is that change and how can I turn it into a goal?
  • How does watching the news/reading the paper/scrolling through Twitter moments make me feel? Is it a positive, negative or neutral emotion? Can I change my browsing patterns to advance up the emotional scale?
  • How can I bring more harmony in my life?

I hope you enjoyed reflecting this month, here’s to a happy and healthy May!

han X

p.s. If you missed the previous monthly reflection posts, find them here:

~ Jan ~ Feb ~ March ~

p.p.s. If you have a theme/area of life you want me to set reflection questions for, please DM me!

p.p.p.s. You can sign up for my monthly newsletter here

march reflections

march reflections

This month we’re going to talk about gadgets/social media usage and the impact it has on our self-esteem/mental health. We all fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to the pristine personas presented to us online, even though we do not know the trauma and challenges that individual has faced behind the scenes. We want their success and to know how they achieved it, but we don’t want to know about or experience any of the messy stuff.

For the LONGEST TIME I had vehemently denied that social media has a negative effect on my self image. Nowadays I’m happy to post an ugly photo of myself and my 74 chins on insta, but when I was in my teens I would take hundreds of selfies in different poses until I could find the ‘perfect’ one, and even then I would focus on it until I hated it entirely. Although I’m fairly body positive now, there are still occasions where a combination of comparison and endless scrolling gets the better of me.

Obviously I am a big believer in using social media for good, there are so many exciting social justice initiatives that have been born out of/promoted by social media. Y’all also know that I love insta, I post something every hecking day BUT it can sometimes be overwhelming and quite frankly a waste of time that could otherwise be spent productively. The new screen time feature on my phone has really helped me to check myself.

My hope is that these questions will help us all to evaluate how we are using socials currently & how we can use them to cultivate healthy mindsets and relationships with ourselves going forward. Here we go:

  • Am I spending too much time on my phone? If yes, what activity could I replace this with? (personally attacked by this one)
  • Do I need to unfollow some social media accounts that make me feel negatively about myself?
  • Did I see something on social media that made me feel positive/good about myself?
  • Have I learnt anything new this month? Why/why not?
  • When was the last time I changed up my routine? Do I need to do this more often?

If you missed them, check out the previous reflection posts from January and February.

My April challenge to you is: post about how you REALLYYYYY feel on instagram. (I know this is not helpful/applicable to everyone, but if you feel like you can put yourself out there, give it a go). Here’s to more transparent and honest interactions.

Go and love yourself, han X

watch your (ethical fashion) privilege

watch your (ethical fashion) privilege

I was born in Salford, a working class area of the North West. We were skint at times and therefore absolutely loved a bargain. Huge hauls from Primarni, getting pirated dvds off the local market and buying other people’s junk at car boots were the norm.

Growing up, I always bought my clothes from high street shops, starting off with Tammy Girl at BHS and moving onto New Look, Forever 21, Zara, River Island, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge (the very predictable list goes on and on). At one point when I was around 16 almost every single item of clothing I owned was from Topshop. If I’m honest, I wasn’t completely ingnorant to the unethical nature of the sweat shops that these clothes came from, but at the time all I was concerned about was the cost to me (aka my mum).

Those of you that have followed me for a while now will know that I’m pretty passionate about calling out the fast fashion industry for being damaging to both people and the environment. However, I only really got into buying vintage and second hand clothing when I began earning my own money just before I started university.

FACT: Buying from ethical clothing brands/second hand shops is more EXPENSIVE. I don’t need to cite 83 sources for you to believe me, we all know that a 5 pack of primark undies is a whole lot cheaper than one pair of knickers made from recycled fabric in an all female studio in East London.

Thinking about the cost of sustainable clothing has led me to this question: Is investing in ‘conscious fashion’ a viable option for low income individuals and families?

As somebody who follows and interacts with others from the ethical fashion community, I have encountered blanket statements such as “if we ALL changed the way we shopped, we could save the planet!”. I have been guilty of using this kind of rhetoric myself in the past. Now that I think about it from a more critical perspective, can we ALL change the way we shop?

Are we assuming that those who don’t buy from sustainable brands are doing it because they don’t want a more ethical world for all? Or is it simply because they don’t have enough/any disposable income? Are they just thinking about how they are going to put food on the table?

Are we privileged if we can buy ethically?

Are we asserting that this is the best way to live and the way that everybody should be living?

I realise that this is just a stream of consciousness stemming from my thoughts about ethical fashion, but I hope it helps you to think about this issue too.

Instead of shaming people with facts and figures about those that suffer at the hands of fast fashion, perhaps it is time for us to offer cost-effective solutions. Let’s encourage people to make small changes that have a significant impact over time. We can swap clothes with friends, recycle old clothes, wash our clothes on a lower temperature, buy from charity shops etc.

We are lucky that we are able to shop ethically, we shouldn’t take it for granted. We shouldn’t use our privilege to humiliate others.

As always, shout me on instagram with your thoughts.

february reflections

february reflections

hello my loves!!!

I hope February has served you well so far and you are ready to reflect! This month contains more general reflection questions that I like to ask myself regularly. In the coming months, I will focus specifically on different spheres of life that we can all work on like career, family and health. Until then, enjoy the following reflection time!

Find somewhere cosy, pour yourself a brew, get your notebook out and be ready to reflect on your February victories, lessons and inspirations.

This months questions:

  • What was the most memorable part of this past month? Describe it.
  • What were the three biggest lessons you’ve learnt this past month?
  • What events/books/films impacted you the most this month?
  • Did I fully enjoy whatever I was doing this month? Was I really here or was I just showing up?
  • What was your most empowering moment this month?
  • Did I have an authentic conversation? Who was it with? What was it about?
  • Have I spent time on myself this month?

Missed last months questions? Read them here.

Share your thoughts with me on Instagram and Twitter.

All my love X

p.s. please share these with anyone who will find them useful! Let’s help each other out 🙂

This one goes out to all my givers and fixers

This one goes out to all my givers and fixers

Happy Valentine’s Day hunnies! I’m here to talk about LOVING YOURSELF for once.

Those that have known me for a long time know that I have always wanted to be doing all of the things all of the time. Since I was around 16 years old, my desire to live a big life has driven me to fill my schedule until it’s bursting at the seams. I never wanted to miss out on any opportunity to expand my life or the lives of those around me.

Growing up in church, I was always told that I will go on to do big things and have a large influence in other people’s lives. This, along with my passion for changing the world, drove me to volunteer as many of my spare hours away on top of my school, work and personal life. I consistently felt like I could ALWAYS be doing more, even when the only free time I had with myself was when I was in bed asleep.

This trend continued when I moved to London to go to uni. I quickly became involved in a plethora of activities. As well as working and studying, I volunteered at a local care home, ran fundraising activities for my netball club, played netball 3 times a week, served in church at least twice a week, attended various political/activist events around London regularly and tried to have some sort of social life. At one point in my second year, I was going to bed around midnight every Friday night after leading a youth connect group and getting up at 5am on Saturday morning to work a shift at Sainsbury’s (having also got up at 5am on the Friday to work).

It’s safe to say that I was exhausted, most days I wasn’t eating properly and when I did eat a meal it was usually microwaved. However, I kept going, people told me I was a girl boss, “you’re so busy” was a compliment to me. I found it difficult to take time out for myself to relax, one of my housemates used to take the mick out of me because I’d have a bath for 15-20 minutes and then have to get out.

This all came to a head in February 2018. I had been making regular visits to the doctors at uni because of various symptoms that were unusual for me. After multiple blood and other tests were conducted, my doctor delivered the verdict: all of your symptoms are stress related. This wasn’t deduced from the state of my physical health alone. Every time I visited her I was carrying a fundraising bucket with me or some other piece of netball or volunteering equipment. She told me that if I carry on living for other people I eventually won’t have anything else to give. Although I had been told this countless times in the past by friends, family, leaders, managers and pastors, that was my moment of truth. I realised that consistently burning myself out like this was costing both my mental and physical health. I broke down in her office and knew that this was the day that I had to change the way I was living.

I started to make changes. I was more honest with people when I felt that I didn’t have the time or energy to complete a task. I stepped down from a few of my responsibilities. Initially I experienced feelings of guilt because of this, particularly when I stopped serving in church. I didn’t share these feelings with people because I felt that they were silly, I knew that I shouldn’t be feeling that way when I was prioritising my health.

On the surface this was a really successful time of my life, I graduated with a First in my degree, the netball club won loads of awards and I was seen as some kind of wonderwoman. Although I did still have fun times during this period, a lot of it came at a great cost to my mental and physical health.

Fast forward to February 2019. I’m living in rural Norway and I’m about 586% more relaxed than I was 12 months ago. In fact, I only realised whilst writing this that it’s been a whole hecking year since I was at breaking point. When I visited my doctor on that day in February 2018, she told me that I needed to have the most selfish 6 months of my life. This was one of the things that motivated my decision to move to the middle of nowhere instead of taking an office job in London.

Moving to Norway has been a massive help to me. I’ve learnt the importance of living a slow life. Busyness doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity. Even though I’m a lot less active in this community, I’ve learnt not to feel guilty about it. I’ve spent a lot more time working on my personal development, reflecting on my feelings, reading, crafting, baking, meditating, just being.

If any of this resonates with you, please understand the importance of your NO. Not every opportunity is for you. Please understand the importance of time out, time to feed your soul, time to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Your mental and physical health is so so so important, you only get one body in this lifetime, please look after it.

Conclusion: You can’t be booked and busy 24/7. Find ways to practice self care that work for you. Schedule them into your weekly or monthly routine. Whether it looks like a long bath or a cross country run, please get it done.

Share your self care thoughts with me on Instagram and Twitter.

han X