Sunday, November 29, 2015

Obedience on Fleek

One of my favorite stories in the bible can be found in Genesis 22 where God tests Abraham.
God speaks to Abraham asking him to "take [his] son, [his] only son, whom [he] loves, and sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain."

After reading Abraham's reaction to God's request, I can never help but to laugh out loud! The next morning, Abraham simply rose and did exactly as God asked. (Find full story here: Genesis 22).

Can you say obedience on fleek!? Imagine God asking you to let go of something that you love dearly. To take your hands off what you thought was yours. To surrender your will, and your possessions. Now imagine you had the same response as Abraham. He asked Abraham to surrender his only son, who he loved. And without any questions, Abraham marched right up to that mountain ready to do exactly what God asked.

I laugh (nervously I must admit) because I imagine myself having obedience like Abraham. Letting go of all I am and all I have and offering it unto God. I laugh because I imagine the unrelenting trust Abraham had for God. I laugh because I wonder how it must feel to be worry-free like Abraham. He didn't contemplate the what ifs. He did not stop to ask God "why?" He did not consult with his wife, or any other human being. He simply did. He simply let go. He simply submitted.
He was simply obedient. 

Sometimes God may require us to let go of and sacrifice the very thing we love- requiring us to only hold on to His promises, requiring us to hold tightly to faith, requiring us to cling unto Him - in order to bring us to the greater thing He has set apart for us.

As this year draws to a close, I urge myself (and of course my dear readers) to consider obedience like Abraham. Imagine how our lives will look if we simply surrendered all?

**Have you heard the Sunday school song: 
Father Abraham had many sons, many sons are Father Abraham's. I am one of them, and so are you. So let's just praise the Lord!

Yup! All those sons are a product of Abraham's obedience! 
lObedience on fleek = blessings on blessings! (lol)

 Outfit Details:
Top: Topshop (London)
Black Skirt: Friends Closet :D
Shoes: Primark


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Finding Rest & Maintaining Balance

If you're anything like me, you thrive off busy days, lack of sleep, and a constantly filled calendar (with no time scheduled for R&R). There's just something about the busy life that I absolutely love! (Maybe it's the fact that the more busy I am, the less time I have for those socially awkward encounters...which I'll talk more about later)..

While in London, my schedule has been nothing but (organized) chaos. While studying full time, I found some way to keep even busier with one full time job and one part time job. Now that I'm no longer a student my schedule seems even more hectic. When I'm not jumping from train to tube to bus, I'm zig zagging though Oxford Street or preparing things for a client.. I've realized that while I love keeping busy, the pressures of all my deadline was slowly getting to me and suddenly realized how anxiety can slowly creep up! 

I've found these 5 tips useful in finding rest and maintaining balance in my seemingly hectic life.
  1. Respect your time. This means creating a schedule. Sticking to appointments. Ensuring that colleagues, business partners etc also follow suit and also respect this space. (and making sure that this is reciprocal)!
  2. Be vocal. Don't be afraid to let those around you (i.e. boss, colleagues, etc) know when you're feeling stressed or getting anxiety. If your work load is too much for you to handle, speak up!
  3. Learn how to say "no." While balancing academics and work, I've learned to hard way that it is okay to tell people when you are unable to deliver. This can apply to almost anything: no to meeting up with friends for a night out when you just have way too much on your plate; no to taking on another client for business services...
  4. Be intentional about "me time." I've recently learned the essence of taking just a small amount of my day to focus on me. In this time, I often spend time with God and work on spiritual growth and refuel what my day has taken out of me. I love reading the book of Psalms and perusing those calming passages. I also find it refreshing to take some time to watch a comedy..(lately it's been The Proud Family!!! Yesss...I found it on YouTube, y'all...and it's been giving me life and laughter!). So, be intentional about taking some time out daily to do something you you! (Maybe even a mani/pedi!).
  5. Protect your resting space. During this past summer and early autumn, I struggled to maintain a normal sleep pattern and had so much trouble sleeping. I would often fall asleep by 2am and wake up around 6am every day. What kept me up? Work. Or the thought of work. I'd often fall asleep with my notebook right next to my pillow and my laptop not too far away. I had to learn to protect the one space I had for rest.My bedroom. For some time I did not allow myself to work in my room and made it a rule that I would do work everywhere but that space. Soon after I started separating work and rest, my bedroom became less associated with anxiety and my sleeping pattern was once again back to normal.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" 

- Matthew 11:28


Friday, October 30, 2015

For the Love of London

October marks one year since I moved to London. This year has been completely life changing and God-filled to say the least.

Let me tell y'all about my God.

When I first arrived here mid October 2014, to say I was scared would be an understatement. (You can read more about my experience here). Yes, I loved London so much that I wanted to live here (it was not by force loll). However once I did, I was in tears literally everyday for the first few weeks. I wanted to quit and move back to California ASAP. But as luck would have it, God had other plans. I learned to cope with homesickness, depression, and downright dissatisfaction. I learned to be grateful, appreciate life, and vowed to travel the world. I told God that if he wanted me to stay here he would have to give me an amazing testimony. He sure did (and it is still blossoming).

How I coped:

  • Having an amazing support system: When I first arrived, I didn't have many friends. Yes y'all. I was all by my lonesome for sometime. I went to school and came home. So I leaned heavily on my stateside family and friends. (Thank God for apps like What's App, Viber, and Skype). My family and friends kept me sane with their love, prayers, and understanding. I knew I could call them whenever..for a laugh, pep talk, or prayers.

  • Holding on ever so tightly to the word of God: 'Til this day, I believe that God used my period of loneliness to draw me nearer to Him. It was in the time I was fully able to talk with Him. I read, prayed, read, prayed and repeated. My relationship with Him grew as I learned more about who He is and more about who I am through Him. 
  • Therapy: (Okay retail/food therapy is still therapy y'all!!). The weather here can be very gloomy and coming from Southern California, the lack of sunshine led to so many depressing days. I learned what made me happy. Sometimes it was upbeat/inspirational music, other times it was ice cream, but most times I would just shop (or window shop) at my favorite stores. (I know all my chronic shoppers can relate to this! lol).

  • Travel!!: I challenged myself to break out of my comfort zone and explore places I've never visited. I found amazing places in London (like coffee shops, parks, etc) to simply sit and do homework. I had the opportunity to travel to some parts of Europe to explore, visit friends, and learn.
St. James' Park, London

Sitges Beach, Barcelona

Although it is still developing I'll share a little bit of my testimony with you all:
God has never left my side. Throughout my whole journey He has been guiding, protecting, and providing for me. He has given me countless opportunities. 

Academic wise, I was successful in all my courses. Job wise, He has opened and closed so many doors which have blessed me tremendously. He has ordered my steps accordingly and caused me to cross paths with people and experiences that have changed my life. I'll definitely share more later, but I wanted to write this post simply to share how good God is and hopefully encourage you.

If there is nothing else I have to give God all the glory for allowing me to pursue my dream of living in London  + completing my masters degree.

That dream you've been holding on to..that goal that's on the top of your list...go for it. Allow God to lead you. Trust Him and he will never forsake you. He will provide for you, He will keep you, He will love you. 

Don't allow your fear to disrupt your progress. Don't allow those what-ifs to hinder your drive.

That country you've been wanting to visit? Go. 
Allow God to make a way.

That program you've been thinking about applying for admission? Do it.
Let His will be done.

He is faithful.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall Frugal Finds

Hey fly fashion dolls! After one LONG summer, your girl finally handed in her "dissertation" (as the British call it..or masters thesis, as Americans say). Yes, I'm offically DONE with my masters in psychology! I was back in Cali for the summer, writing away, so had very little time to spend with my family and friends :(

But, fortunately, I did get to attend two weddings, witnessesing some dear friends tie the knot; fellowship with my family; and catch up a little with good friends. One highlight of my visit to Cali was meeting up with my dear friend, Seyi and catching up with this DC chic chick! We did a mini-shoot together and you'll definitely want to add her blog, In Fashion I Trust, to your list of faves!

Right before I headed to Cali, I had to do a little shopping in Londontown (yes, had to..teheh). A friend of mine invited me to a sample sale at New Look corporate office, and I picked up some amazingly frugal finds for one pound. Yes. One pound, y'all. *Note: In this post, I'm wearing only one of the items I purchased. The rest of the outfit was collected from different stores :)

DIY Denim Cut-offs: Thrifted 
When searching for the best pair of high waisted denims from your local thriftstore, here's a tip that might be helpful: search in the men's (or boys) section. The cut of the jeans often offer a better fit (especially if they are old school Levi or Gap denim).
Tan vest: River Island, 10 pounds
Gabor Oxford Shoes, Thrifted, 12 pounds
Men's Blazer, New Look, 1 pound



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beauty: DIY Facial Cleansers

Around my junior year of undergrad, I began noticing these really dark spots that had developed on my cheeks due to scarring. Whenever I saw a pimple on my cheek I knew I was doomed (lol). I hated this because being acne-free was something I took pride in. I never really had problem skin as a teen. At that point I began trying almost every facial cleansing products. I tried Ambi, Neutrogena, Clearasil..and more..everything.

About a year ago I began trying all natural product for my skin. I figured, if I wouldn't put it in my body, why put it on my face? Here are a few simple facial cleansing remedies that have worked for me (and all are with items that you can safely put in your body as well!).
Safe for your skin, and safe to be eaten, which is exactly what you need when treating the most visible part of your body!

If you follow me on Snap Chat (@JoyfulLove), you've probably seen where I've mentioned some of these remedies. Per the request of some of my lovely followers, here are a few steps you can try for yourself.
Disclaimer: I have no intention of portraying myself as a beauty guru! These are simply remedies that have worked very well for me. Each person's skin is different and what works for someone may not work for everyone.

If you have any other great tips you've tried, please share in the comments below! xo

Baking Soda as an exfoliator to treat acne, reduce scarring and remove excess dirt. 

  • Prepare baking soda by pouring a small amount (tablespoon size) into a small bowl. Pour a small amount of water over powder (about teaspoon size) to create a paste.
  • Dampen skin with warm water
  • Use finger tips to massage paste onto skin, focusing on problem area.
  • Rinse off :) 
  • (Some people prefer to use this baking soda paste as a mask and let sit on skin. Again I emphasize, you may skin react differently so I would recommend testing this paste somewhere on your skin before applying it onto your face).

Green tea for blemish control, toxin reducer & anti-inflammatory

This has been one of my favorite DIY cleansers. (Y'all, stop buying those expensive cleansers from the store!). Green tea has soo many beauty benefits and always leaves my skin feeling as soft as a baby's bottom the next morning.
  1. Eye mask: after steeping tea bag in hot water, let cool. When the bag is still relatively warm (but cool enough for direct contact with skin), allow the tea bag to sit on your eyelids. I take it a step further and wipe underneath my eyes with the tea bag.
  2. Scrub: after letting tea and tea bag become warm enough to place on skin, cut open the tea bag. First, dampen skin then use tea leaves to lightly scrub skin. This gets quite messy so doing it over the sink will be your best bet. Rub tea leaves onto skin. I like to let the wet leaves sit on my face for a few minutes.
  3. Rinse(/Toner??): to get the full benefits of the green tea, I finish off by rinsing off the leaves with the remaining (warm) green tea. Rinse off skin with cool water when completely done.

Lemon to brighten skin and reduce dark spots (also great for your pores).

Simply cut open a lemon and squeeze the insides into a bowl. Use your (clean) finger tips to dab onto skin and rinse off. If your skin is sensitive be careful! Lemon might not be the best remedy as it will be too harsh for sensitive skin. (I personally did not use the lemon method too frequently because of my sensitive skin. It would sometimes cause a burning sensation).

Coconut Oil to remove makeup, and moisturize skin

One of the most important things I've learned about maintaing good skin, is proper make-up removal which I'll talk more about below. Nonetheless, coconut oil works great as moisturizer (even for oily skin, which I have). I usually do this bit at night before I sleep.

  1. You can either apply coconut oil directly onto skin or apply onto a cotton ball. 
  2. Use cotton ball to wipe off make up :) That's it!
  3. You can also use coconut oil along with any baking soda, and green tea leaves. When I use this method, I apply oil directly onto my skin before apply baking soda or green tea leaves (for example).

Makeup: less is more!

I've noticed that with the less make up I wear, the more my skin improves. I honestly stopped wearing make up everday just because I can't be bothered to put it on (haha). However, if you do insist on applying make up daily (but I would suggest perhaps skipping days), be sure you completely remove all of it before cleansing your skin and going to sleep. If you really want these cleansers to work, you need to be sure that there is nothing on your skin standing in its way. As I mentioned above, coconut oil is a great make up remover.

Drink water!!! & exercise!

Looking back, I noticed that  I started getting the most compliments on my skin was when I first moved to London a year ago. Just prior to that time (& when I became more intentional about getting clear skin), I started drinking loads of water. At work, I would drink about 4 bottles of water per day. Once I got to London, I noticed that water seemed a bit scarce (lol) so I started carrying around a water bottle wherever I went and made sure to drink a certain amount per day. Water is the most important component to a healthy lifestyle, period. And ultimately, your skin needs moisture from the interior in addition to the exterior!

And exercise explains itself. Stay healthy on the inside, look healthy on the outside!

Happy cleansing!


Monday, July 27, 2015

'Member it Monday: From Los Angeles to London

Am I allowed to do a significantly old "throwback"post? How do photos or life events get classified as throwbacks, anyway? Who made the rules? Can #'memberitmonday be a thing now...or nah?
...I digress.

July is almost over! This months marks a year from when I found out I was accepted into a few different universities here in England. When I received my first acceptance letter I was speechless. Let me set the scene for you...

I was at work (working diligently, of course). I felt compelled to take a break to check my email. Pause - rewind to the beginning of July when I first applied. I applied late not really expecting to hear back. I applied simply for the sake of applying, letting go, and letting God. Okay back to that day at work when I was working harder than ever. I skimmed through my several emails, my eyes stopping when I read a line that said "We are pleased to inform you..." I was literally speechless. My hands started shaking. I turned to my intern, Maria, and said in the faintest whisper, "Maria. Oh my God. I got accepted to a school in London..." I needed a moment, so I stepped outside for a praise break and called my family to share the news.

If you know me well, you'll know that since I was in high school it has been my dream to live in London. During my senior year at Westmont College I was blessed with the opportunity to complete a semester in the United Kingdom (spending about half of the semester in London). I left London that winter knowing I just had to return.

Fast forward. After graduating from Westmont in 2013 graduate school was always at the forefront of my mind -- I hadn't really considered was always just a dream, not really a goal. I spent the next several months blogging, working, and volunteering at various events. It was during this time that my passion for event organizing, management, and communication were ignited. I created Beneath Your Beautiful Campaign and produced my first fashion show. I had the opportunity to work with Africa Fashion Week as well as Image is Everything PR, serving at Los Angeles Fashion Week, Curly Cartel (where I served the beautiful Tracee Ellis Ross and Teyonah Parris), and with many other events supporting a variety of causes.

I soon started my own freelance PR venture, working closely with clients in the fashion industries and non profit organizations.

My life was poppin (as the youngins say). As the time grew closer for me to secure my spot at my university I grew overwhelmed. I tried to convince myself that this life was exactly what I needed it to be, and change would simply be an enemy of progress. I tried to make myself believe that I was comfortable, and it would be foolish of me to mess with the opportunities God had given me by stepping outside of my comfort zone. I was young and successful. I was 23 with a money tree. I was 23 sitting on 23 mill'. (Okay not really..). But in short, I was hip and happening...and doing so while living in sunny Los Angeles, no less. London? It was so surreal. So scary. So far. So not sunny Los Angeles. And a whole year? I was afraid that my dream was becoming a nightmare.

Check me out in these throwback photos hehe. These photos were taken during African Fashion Week LA. See how hip I look! Large & in charge! (just kidding..tehe). I just came across these photos and remembered what a magical night I had. I met amazing designers, worked with talented models, and made new friends. This was 2 weeks before my flight to London. Why leave LA, right?? Why London??

Fast forward again. Today, July 27, 2015, your girl is live and in London. I'm not done yet but so far this journey has been a life changing experience that I would not change for the world. I'm so grateful for faith. That I was able to leap out of my comfort zone and dive into the unknown. The only thing I did know however was that God's got me. No matter how unsure I was of this journey, I knew without a doubt that God will guide, lead, and protect me (and He sure has and is!). It's been difficult - adjusting to this no sunshine life & trying to balance being a full time masters student and two jobs (one of which is in PR (yay!)) is not easy ooo. Nevertheless, I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to continue PR here in London. I've been blessed to meet many people who I can call family. Although everything did not play out as it did in my dreams, this journey has been beautiful and a vision come true.

But in all seriousness, I'm writing this post simply as a testimony. (I've had another version prepared, but felt moved to share this one haha). If you have a dream or a vision put your mind, your heart, and your faith into it. Forget about the naysayers. Ignore the that voice telling you that comfort is best. Take a step out and do what makes you happy, do what challenges you, and do what inspires you.

Me during a Beneath Your Beautiful event here in London. Still large and in charge. (JK, y'all..tehe).
Outfit details:

Look 1 -
Black Cropped Top: Charlotte Russe, $5! 
Black Skater Skirt: The Closet (Los Angeles boutique)
Coral Mary Jane Pumps: Santa Barbara boutique

Look 2:
White Pencil Dress: Miss Selfridge (Can be found here)
Baby Blue Pumps: Primark!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Marley Braids & Frugal Faves

My Marley Twists are baaacckkk!! I haven't had these in since Summer 2014 and I've missed them dearly. Lol. This was my go-to style. So easy to do myself and so fun!

With my new do, I felt like dressing up today so I threw on some pumps, a body con midi, and a cute crop top. Today's London weather was just above 60 so it was perfect for this light "coat" I purchased from Choies! I love this look because of the pieces I got from everywhere (all frugal finds of course)!

Printed Crop: H&M (this top worn with another outfit here)
Pattern Midi: Zara (about £2 on clearance!)
Dark Brown Pumps: Thrifted (about $4..and never worn!)

You probably noticed that I didn't post very many winter looks. To be absolutely real, I struggled with my winter wardrobe!! Now that it's warming up, I'm finally getting the hang of coats, scarves, and layers haha! Maybe this means I can brave another winter here in London...? (*side eye).




Monday, April 27, 2015

London Blues

Y'all. My former flatmate made the mistake of telling me she was a photographer and asked me to pose for her portfolio...little did she know....tehe.. We found the perfect blue wall next too our flat which matched perfectly with my blue outfit!

Ah. But first and foremost, my apologies! I have been completely MIA from social media. Some of you sweet people have contacted me to figure out what in the world has happened to my social media presence. Bless you!

A lot of you actually have no idea what I'm doing in here London. School would be the answer. Yes, y'all. School has succeeded in kidnapping me and hiding me away from life. My head has literally been in the books, and I've actually spent several nights in the library burning the midnight oil over the past several months. Sigh. But now that finals are over, I'm baaackkk!!! Expect to see (and read) much, much more of me :D

Over these next few months, I'll be exploring Londontown, parts of Europe, and sharing my experiences with you all. I hope you enjoy!


Outfit details:
Not much detail here..all remixed bits and pieces :)
Denim button down: thrifted, Crossroad, Old Town Pasadena
Black Lace Bandeau: some neighborhood boutique in Los Angeles
Blue Drawstring Trousers: Forever 21, Los Angeles, Similar Here


Monday, March 16, 2015

Why I Gave Up "Worry" for Lent

And anything else that falls into the category of fear, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction.

If you asked me if I was a worrier, with confidence, I would answer no. I've always considered myself as in control. I've considered myself as a planner, a doer, and as proactive. Most importantly, I've considered myself as someone with strong faith. But truth be told, panic is usually my first reaction to stressful situations rather than feeling the peace in uncertainty that is associated with faith. 

Worry by definition is to feel or cause to feel anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems.
Worry causes delay to your potential (and it won't let you be great!). In a sense, worrying is a coping mechanism we develop in an attempt to manage our situations.

I noticed that I suddenly became prone to worrying about everything...recently it has been how long my hair will grow (ha!). But more seriously, I would find myself panicking over most every situation. I would find myself staying up late to ponder over how I would fix my problems -- problems that were beyond my control. I found myself creating scenarios that I imagined I would have to deal with in the far future. 

I remember discussing worry in one of my bible classes at Westmont College. We discussed what it means to worry as a Christian and how being fixated on our problems in this manner simply tells God that He cannot move your mountains. Worrying is telling God that your problems are bigger than Him.

During lent we are meant to give up certain luxuries and exercise patience.  People who worry do so because we desire the luxury of certainty. We fail to be convicted of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

When you worry, you spend more time doubting that believing.  
During this season I made a conscientious choice to be intentional about not worrying.

First I had to understand what causes worry: anticipating something you cannot yet see... you're anxious to obtain something that is not yet within your grasp.
I made sure to acknowledge these "problems" which caused me to worry. Acknowledge that I have bills to pay (in spite of being a full time student); acknowledge that some of my relationships were struggling; acknowledge that some of my goals and dreams will be difficult (but attainable!!).

I talked about intentionally giving up worry—
To me, being intentional about this is like anything: making a firm & mindful decision-- deciding to be happy, deciding to let go of anger, deciding to have a good day, deciding to smile. It's a decision that you can make in order to cease thinking about what you have no control over.

As a Christian what helped was praying about my situation and knowing in my spirit that it would be taken care of. By dwelling on God's promises. By remembering how He loves. By knowing that He has done it before (Hebrews 11:4-39).
Worry is a sign of distrust. By letting go of worry and making that commitment within your spirit, you are telling your problems that something is bigger than them...that something is in control of them..
so your problems no longer have a hold of your being & can no longer consume your thoughts.
Focus on who God is.
Surrender all--that includes surrendering a habit (or coping mechanism) I've formed over the years.
God never fails. So why worry?

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