Family Life Stories Life

This is my open letter of apology to my sister

Growing up, I had only a few friends. From the ages of twelve to sixteen, I had a grand total of three people I would talk to and even then, I only felt comfortable messaging one out of these three friends. But, the one consistent person in my life has always been my older sister, someone I owe a big apology to. 

When we were younger, my older sister and I were often called twins – we were so in-sync all the time whether it was sentences, responses, or even emotions. My sister is in fact just under two years older than I am and although she can be a bit up herself for being the older sibling at times, I can’t say I’ve never connected with her even though my sister was always a little more sympathetic to things than I was or even still am; if I shed a tear, she shed a waterfall. 

Exhibit A; I slipped headfirst into the side of the building and got a concussion at school one time in year three and she cried more than I did as she went off to get a teacher who basically told her to calm down because not a single coherent word was coming out of her mouth. Though I had to stay home battling a throbbing headache for the upcoming weeks, my sister would spend her time at school making get well soon cards for me and coming home to just sit with me. 

I remember when she was leaving primary school and on her last day, I was filled with dread because I realized that if I now had a spat with my friends, I couldn’t run off to my sister. She was now going to be somewhere that would require me to climb out of the school gates undetected, crossroads safely and not get kidnapped by the white van that appears to be everywhere. Far too much effort for the kid who barely got off the sofa once she sat down.

I got through that year anyhow and remember my sister giving me a pep talk before my first day of secondary school with the same sentence over and over: “I’m there if you need me.” It got really sour, really fast. 

Although undiagnosed at the time, social anxiety has always been a lifelong struggle of mine and I always took comfort in familiarity in my surroundings. I expressed to my sister how nervous I was about starting school on our walk there and she agreed for both of us to meet during break time in the school canteen. The first day had already been awful for me with the highlight of it realizing that I would be picked on by this one girl for the next five years. Her reason? She thought I was ugly. 

As I sat at a table waiting for my sister, a group of girls from my class walked past me making comments about how ‘ugly’ I was. I became the focal point of their laughter when my sister walked up to me and gave me a hug asking how my first few lessons were. I was suddenly torn between being in my safe space and fitting in – would I have been spared the embarrassment if I didn’t talk to my sister? I didn’t know it wouldn’t matter either way; the class bullies ran with it, teasing me relentlessly for the next five years. 

I got teased for a myriad of things during my time at secondary school, but it was all largely in comparison to me and my sister. She was tall, fairer-skinned (colorism at its finest), pretty, and above all, skinny. It didn’t help that she was also smart so whenever we had the same teachers, I would have to face comparisons by the teachers which would just become more ammunition for the class bullies. One girl in my class spread the rumor that I was adopted because there was no way one sister could be so beautiful and the other one so ugly. Another girl told me that my sister should be embarrassed to have such a fat sibling. The comments only got more demeaning from there.

I took it all out on my sister. I started arguing with her every morning so she would leave for school without me and purposefully get out of class really late so I wouldn’t have to walk home with her. Everything anyone has ever bought me down for, I would blame on her and I made sure she knew it. I bullied my own sister for my insecurities and that is a regret that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I regret my actions especially because my sister is a kind soul who has only ever encouraged me and waited patiently for me to work through any issues I was having.

It wasn’t until I got out of secondary school that I realized how awful I had been to someone who had never been mean to me – we came out of school with an overwrought relationship on my behalf. The road to healing has been long but my sister deserves to know that none of it was her fault and if I could undo it, I would.

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Life Hacks Work Tech Now + Beyond

These 11 free web tools are the secret to constantly being on top of things

After entering the world of work, I’ve come across my fair share of free web tools that claim to have all of the bells and whistles to keep me organized and on top of my work. I wanted to share the ones that have benefitted me, so you can save yourself the time from testing as many free web tools as I have!

It doesn’t matter what stage you are in your career journey – whether you’re working from home or in the office, if you’re a student/graduate looking to start your career or you’re working on personal projects – these tools can help you boss your tasks. Even better than that, they’re free for you to use!


Grammarly logo
[Image Description: Image of Grammarly logo] via Grammarly
Grammarly is an online writing assistant that makes your writing look professional and up to scratch. The software analyzes the text you’ve written and checks for any writing errors. The free version scans for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors and provides writing style recommendations.

The thing I love about Grammarly is how you can also view synonyms for many of the words in a document. When I’ve repeated a word I’ve written in a report or blog post draft, I’ve relied on Grammarly for word suggestions to make my writing look polished.


Canva logo
[Image Description: Image of Canva logo] via Canva
Canva is an awesome graphic design platform for making your designs look slick, clean and impressive. You can create resumes, presentations, flyers, social media graphics and much more – there are so many design templates available at your disposal.

Best of all, you don’t need any graphic design experience to use Canva – I have zero experience and I’m able to use this platform! I’ve created business presentations, spruced up my resume, designed a temporary food menu for my father’s restaurant and created Instagram posts and story highlight covers all through Canva.


todoist logo
[Image Description: Image of todoist logo] via todoist
To stay organized and on top of your day-to-day tasks, owning a to-do list app is an absolute must. Todoist lets you do that. As the app is cloud-based, all of your tasks can sync automatically. You can note down your tasks on the go anytime and on any device – you can even use Todoist offline.


Trello logo
[Image Description: Image of Trello logo] via Trello
If you’re looking for a project management tool that provides clean organization, flexibility and full visibility, then Trello is the app for you! Trello is a kanban-style list-making app that lets you organize cards into lists. The cards can be made up of tasks, notes, to-dos, projects, files, images, links – just about anything that lets you achieve your aims.

You can use Trello whilst collaborating with your team on tasks or for your personal use. I’ve used Trello to capture inspiration I’ve found online and then save and organize them in my Trello boards – they include my wedding, holidays, recipe ideas and running my own blog.


Evernote logo
[Image Description: Image of Evernote logo] via Evernote
Evernote is a cloud-based app designed for note-taking, organizing, managing tasks and for storing media files. You create notes and save them into your notebooks (like you would with a folder), then organize your notebooks by assigning them names.

As Evernote automatically syncs your notes and notebooks between your devices, you won’t feel restricted by just working on a single device when creating or updating your notes. The flexibility of the Evernote app allows you to save your notes without losing track of them.


Dropbox logo
[Image Description: Image of Dropbox logo] via Dropbox
Dropbox is a cloud storage app that allows you to save files online that will automatically sync. That means you can access the files later on a different device. One of the things I like about Dropbox is how you can create Dropbox links to share files and folders with others. This makes it a far easier process compared to sending large files that the receiver finds difficult to download!


Google Drive logo
[Image Description: Image of Google Drive logo] via Google
Google Drive is another cloud storage service that lets you access files across multiple devices. The difference between this service and Dropbox is that Google Drive is compatible with Google’s other products such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more.

I’ve suggested both of these free web tools, Dropbox and Google Drive, as I’ve found it’s beneficial to store my Google product files in Google Drive and other files (Word, Excel and PDF files) in Dropbox.


Google Calendar logo
[Image Description: Image of Google Calendar logo] via Google
Following on from Google Drive is their calendar app. Google Calendar works well with Gmail and other Google products, with notifications sent by default to your Gmail account. As it’s cloud-based as well, your events, reminders and tasks will sync through to all of your devices when you’re signed in to your Google account.


Sejda logo
[Image Description: Image of Sejda logo] via Sejda
Sejda is an easy-to-use PDF editor for making quick edits to your documents. There’s no software for you to install – the tool can be accessed right in your browser. You can convert, edit, merge and split your documents – you have access to all of the basic functionalities without downloading software!


Diigo logo
[Image Description: Image of Diigo logo] via Diigo
If you do a lot of reading and researching online, then Diigo will be perfect for you! The social bookmarking software allows you to bookmark and tag web pages, highlight sections on websites and annotate and attach sticky notes to your saved research. I’ve only recently come across this software and I’m obsessed with it! I only wish I came across Diigo sooner as I would’ve saved so much time researching and analysing content I’ve come across online.


Pinterest logo
[Image Description: Image of Pinterest logo] via Pinterest
If you’re looking for creative inspiration, look no further than Pinterest! Whether you’re looking for productivity and self-care tips to see you through your student or career journey, or you need the time to zone out and not think about work, Pinterest can help with that. I’ve created Pinterest boards for interior design ideas, bridal inspo (I found a henna design on Pinterest I had recreated for my wedding!), fashion and for self-improvement tips. 

You’ll be surprised how quickly these free web tools will help you elevate your work or personal projects. You’ll check off your tasks in no time!

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Health Care Mind Mental Health Health Wellness

11 ways you can gain your confidence back

I’ve always had trouble with my self confidence because I’ve had an issue with thinking everyone hates me. I lost my own self confidence, and it took so much to build it back up. Regaining confidence, or even gaining it in the first place takes continuous time and effort. A common misconception is that you can have confidence as long as you say it. In reality, you have to have determination and grit in self improvement and growth. However, if you’re having trouble with finding ways to gain your confidence back, here are 11 ways you can improve your self confidence.

1. Follow an affirmations Instagram account.

[Image Description: A light box reading "Reach for the" and a moon next to it.] Photo by Designecologist from Pexels
[Image Description: A light box reading “Reach for the” and a moon next to it.] Photo by Designecologist from Pexels
Contrary to popular belief, social media can be an empowering network if used the proper way. An affirmation is a statement of emotional support or confidence. For example, the statement, “You are beautiful,” is an affirmation. Affirmations can greatly help with self confidence because even simply hearing or seeing those words that you are amazing can help your brain see that you truly are wonderful. They help you keep in control of your life and more.

2. Help someone else

[Image Description: Two hands reaching for each other.] Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash
[Image Description: Two hands reaching for each other.] Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash
As crazy as it may sound, helping someone else does result in helping yourself. The satisfaction from helping a friend, family member, or even a stranger is incomparable to any feeling in the world. Let’s face it– being selfless makes you feel crazy good.

3. Set a routine and stick to it.

[Image Description: A bullet journal calendar with a yellow pen laying on it.] Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash
[Image Description: A bullet journal calendar with a yellow pen laying on it.] Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash
This is something I’ve been doing personally. Every day I get up at 9 AM, exercise and have a shift at work for two hours. The accomplishment I feel after that work shift is one of the best feelings ever. It makes me feel as though I could do anything. If I can stick to a routine, I can love and believe in myself, right? 

4. Set smaller goals for your day

[Image Description: Piece of paper with words, "Goal Review" and three pens laying on it.] Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash
[Image Description: Piece of paper with words, “Goal Review” and three pens laying on it.] Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash
Setting bigger goals for smaller amounts of time is setting yourself up for failure. For example, saying that you will finish an entire book in one hour is unreasonable, unless it’s an incredibly small book, or you can read extremely fast. Setting smaller goals, and chunking them make them much more achievable. After reaching those goals, a similar sense of satisfaction and confidence will appear. Knowing that you could reach that goal helps you be more confident in your abilities.

5. Dress up sometimes

[Image Description: A woman stands in a white romper on stairs.] Photo by gbarkz on Unsplash
[Image Description: A woman stands in a white romper on stairs.] Photo by gbarkz on Unsplash
In quarantine, we often end up wearing our pjs all day. Honestly, it kind of makes me feel crappy when I’m in my pjs. I feel unproductive when I’m still in bed at 2 PM. Dressing nicely can force us to get out of bed and actually do something. It’ll also help you feel more successful and presentable.

6. Smile

[Image Description: A long brown-haired woman smiles at the camera.] Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
[Image Description: A long brown-haired woman smiles at the camera.] Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
This is easy to say, but hard to actually do. Our minds can sometimes be hardwired to think negatively– especially when we see this much negativity happen around us with COVID. However, being positive can make you feel infinitely better about yourself. Becoming aware of your speaking and what you say about yourself– for example, are you saying i can and i am or the opposite– can allow you to view yourself in a different light. The Facial Feedback Theory in Psychology also states that your physical self can affect your mental self. This means that if you smile or laugh, you’re more likely to also feel the same afterwards.

7. Focus on the solutions

[Image Description: A solved rubric cube held in a hand.] Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
[Image Description: A solved rubric cube held in a hand.] Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
It’s very easy to hyperfocus on what’s wrong with everything; what’s wrong with you. If you lost your confidence, don’t focus on the fact that you lost it. Focus on the ways you can get it back. When you focus on the solutions, you will also automatically become more productive. Fixing the problem is more important than the problem itself.

8. Practice gratitude

[Image Description: A pink notebook with the words, "Today I am grateful" on it.] Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash
[Image Description: A pink notebook with the words, “Today I am grateful” on it.] Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash
Simply being grateful for the things that you have not only is a self care practice, but can also increase your confidence. Self love, care, and confidence all come hand-in-hand, so it’s important to practice gratitude to lead a healthier lifestyle. Being grateful is incredibly humbling and can improve the way you see yourself.

9. Drink more water and eat healthy

[Image Description: Water being poured into an almost full glass of water.] Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
[Image Description: Water being poured into an almost full glass of water.] Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
Physical and mental health health are interrelated. Your physical health can affect your mental health and vice versa. This means, if you want your self confidence, image, esteem, or anything to improve, you’ve got to focus on treating your body right. Knowing that you drank that extra glass of water, and chose to treat your body right can be incredibly empowering. However, do it because you want to. Do it because you love being healthy. If you prefer to eat a different diet, then respect that and be confident in your decision.

10. Face your fears

[Image Description: Man wearing brown leather shoes stands on an object at a height.] Photo by Dalton Touchberry on Unsplash
[Image Description: Man wearing brown leather shoes stands on an object at a height.] Photo by Dalton Touchberry on Unsplash
Again, this is easier said than done. However, facing your fears means confronting whatever is stopping you from being confident and believing in yourself. Getting back control means attempting to eliminate irrational fears. Conquering your fears can help you gain a great deal of confidence because you feel more in control. Although this is difficult to do, there is an immense amount of self satisfaction and confidence that it will bring.

11. Step outside your comfort zone

[Image Description: Person wearing gold wedding band grasps onto another hand for comfort.] Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
[Image Description: Person wearing gold wedding band grasps onto another hand for comfort.] Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Whether it be trying a new food, or quitting your job to pursue your real passion, do it. Doing something you’re uncomfortable with will only make you more comfortable with it. Being comfortable with the unknown is confidence. Knowing that you can take on anything in your way is confidence. And by stepping outside of your comfort zone, you can do exactly that.

Everyone works in different ways, these are just some tried and tested ways that helped me on my journey of rebuilding my confidence.

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Beauty Lookbook

Want to feel healthier? Start dressing better.

Anyone who’s taken a shower and put on a full face of makeup when they’re running a 101 fever knows, when you look good you feel good. It’s not always about vanity. It can simply be about feeling prepared, confident, and ready to take on what the world has in store for you.  

When I wear formal clothes, I get nervous. It’s not that I’m afraid of falling ( I’ve actually played a game of football in a pair of high heels). It’s because dressing up comes with the expectation of acting the part – which I don’t think I’m capable of playing.

That’s because what we wear is more than just a method of fitting in with our environments. Clothing and makeup are more like the armor you wear to battle, or the costume you wear on stage. It’s what lets others know you’re prepared for anything.

Look Good, Feel Better is a charity that uses this very premise in an incredible way. They aim to raise the self-esteem of people undergoing treatment for cancer. The volunteers at Look Good, Feel Better know that the physical changes for those undergoing cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy can leave people feeling awkward.  This forces them to become reclusive while undergoing treatment.

To combat those feelings of poor body image and negative self-worth, Look Good, Feel Better offers complimentary beauty sessions to help those who are in treatment and recovering from a cancer diagnosis. They cover it all, from helping a woman put on a wig, to helping a person liven up a complexion turned ghastly from the side effects of chemotherapy.

It’s a fact that increasing self-esteem does more than just increase your confidence – improving what psychologists have termed “emotional immunity.”

Have you ever stewed over a rejection or negative comment, and wondered how for others, it doesn’t affect them at all? The secret is a good emotional immune system.

Good emotional immunity also means that you can be more resilient to anxiety and stress, meaning that you can actually impact your physical immune system as well!

Further, taking the time to pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident, applying makeup, and contributing to your daily hygiene are all methods of self-care that are often understated. Self-care isn’t always a spa day or a fantastic bath bomb; it can be something as regular as taking the time to brush and style the hair the way you want or wearing a fragrance that you find calming.

Even animals understand why self-care is a needed practice.

Monkeys will participate in social grooming because the release of oxytocin makes the action calming and wonderful. In fact, when stressed, rats will start compulsively self-grooming to make themselves feel better.

Take a little time each morning to pump yourself up with the very hormone that makes people wonderful to be around. I’m sure you’ll notice a difference in how you feel.

So next time you want to wear a little extra makeup or dress extra nice for work – don’t feel embarrassed. Looking good doesn’t have to be about vanity.

It might just be about feeling good as well.

Health Care Love Life Stories Advice Wellness

When self-care does more harm than good

Last night, I spent $70 on skincare products in my attempt to revamp my skincare routine. The purchase would seem insignificant if I hadn’t invested close to $400 on the same crusade a month ago.

This is a trend with me.

I pump hundreds of dollars that I really cannot afford into my skincare and overall health, buying products that I have no intention on routinely using, in the name of self-care.

I’m not just this way with skincare products.

I impulsively sign up for gym memberships and workout classes, vitamin subscriptions, download apps geared towards wellness under the guise of self-care just to remain the living epitome of a couch potato. Each swipe, scan, and chip read is a desperate attempt to get my life together because glowing skin equates to a well-managed, happy life to me.

The problem is splurging on self-care products gives me the illusion of control over my life and mental state. When I’m feeling aimless and uninspired, it gives me the same rush as when I start a New Year’s resolution. But, as with most resolutions, my self-care splurges only bring me temporary happiness, and they fail to tackle the root problem.

Self-care, defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress, is revolutionary. In Audre Lorde’s book, A Burst of Light, she wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

And with it being synonymous with wellness, a $3.7 trillion industry, how self-care manifests—and is substantially manipulatedvaries from person to person. It can look like a person binge-watching a mini-series in between studying for exams or the abstaining from the news to get some reprieve from the daily assault of current events.

Despite predating back to the Ancient Greeks, self-care is widely popular with millennials, somewhat missing the Baby Boomer population. According to Pew Research, boomers tend to be pessimistic and more anxious than younger generations, while millennials seem to be a ‘generation of emotional intelligence’. In comparison to our predecessors, we funnel a lot of time and money into self-care practices and wellness that it makes sense why we are called the Me, Me, Me Generation.

There is no limitation to what self-care is and what it looks like, and yet, we often confuse depressive and destructive behavior with healthy self-care practices. Overspending, lying in bed all day, or canceling all your appointments to isolate yourself might feel good but that doesn’t mean it is good for your mental health or general well-being. 

Yes, we all need a day or even a week to rewire ourselves after traumas that we encounter, but that doesn’t mean you give up on your responsibilities or yourself.

My purchases often aligned with high-stressed and anxious situations I was trying to avoid like finishing work projects or writing gigs, but more so during my bouts of impostor syndrome when I failed to apply for jobs. I’d convince myself that I was unworthy of a job that was fulfilling or that whatever piece I would write, I would be exposed as an unqualified hack whose tired charade was on the verge of exposure.  I was vulnerable.

So I’d turned to retail therapy as a way to ease my insecurities, but it resulted in me rewarding myself for moping around. I wasn’t looking for jobs. I wasn’t writing. I was sitting around watching The Office while pretending to look for writing gigs – great jobs that asked for cover letters were avoided like the plague – and gifting myself with sheet masks and peels for trying.

By the end, I depleted my savings, had a soul-sucking full-time job where I’m still employed, and healthier looking skin. I invested more in ignoring myself than working to elevate myself.

Instead, I should have been working on myself, investing in my future career, and making positive life changes instead of avoiding what made me unhappy. Self-care also means self-work.


It’s the buzzword in every self-help book, child-rearing book, and dog training guide. There’s a balance we must maintain when we practice self-care as a reward system for work or coping mechanisms. We must learn that not every hurdle you overcome needs a participation trophy, but also that too much of a good thing can go sour.

Allow yourself to tap out and take the necessary breaks by doing whatever your self-care routine is. Sit in your feelings. Be uncomfortable. Binge watch that Netflix series but remember that at some point you have to work through whatever caused you that discomfort.

After all, that trauma or discomfort will continue to affect you even if you avoid it – so who is that really helping?

Life Hacks Health Care The Internet Love Wellness

5 of the best self-care podcasts for when you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed

Sometimes, the most therapeutic thing to hear on your journey of self-exploration is someone uttering “me too” in response to your seemingly singular experience. Even better? When they’re able to articulate the feelings you’ve struggled to put into words.

This is why podcasts play a major role in my day. Beyond providing me with entertainment and background noise as I run errands, they supply me with the tools and knowledge to become more self-aware and work on improving my mental health.

However, the podcast landscape has become so saturated with content that focuses on everything from true crime to sleeping noises that it can be hard to find one that fits all your criteria. Not to mention, it’s harder to spot the authentic wellness gurus from the snake oil peddlers as they infiltrate your timeline.

1. Self Service

Self Service podcast

What’s so magical about Self Service is that it not only acknowledges that astrology and wellness go hand in hand, but rather incorporates the two in each episode. The creator – editorial director of Girlboss, Jerico Mandbur – sits down with expert guests to guide listeners on ways to stop self-sabotaging yourself or tips to stay hydrated, while also providing a weekly astrological forecast and tarot card reading.

The episodes are pretty short, making it a perfect beginner podcast for those looking for the basics of self-care and wellness.

2. The Friend Zone Podcast

The Friend Zone Podcast

The Friend Zone covers “all things mental health, mental wealth, and mental hygiene because who in the hell wants a musty brain.” The crew dives into the complicated messes that consume our daily lives, from unpacking the generational traumas that are passed to us from our parents to auditing one’s relationships to become self-aware of the dynamics and energy we create amongst friends in a style that’s both transparent and transformative.

While the topics they cover tend to be heavy, the communal spirit and comradery amongst Dustin Ross, Francheska of Hey Fran Hey, and Assante will have you laughing between moments of clarity and self-realization.

3. Personal Best

CBC’s Personal Best proclaims its a self-improvement show for people who don’t like self-improvement. Hosts Rob Norman and Andrew Norton begin each episode with someone wanting to achieve or resolve something and delves into the process of accomplishing, or rather attempting to accomplish, the goal.

The show is a life-hack-meets-immersion-therapy-mishmash, with delightful moments of discovery and untapped aspirations. The show is still in its freshman year but is sincere in its quest to bring the best out of people and themselves.

4. Black Girl in Om

Black Girl in Om podcast

Created to fill a void in the wellness and health community that ostracized women of color, BGIO is a holistic lifestyle brand that caters to the wellness, self-care, and self-love of communities of color.

In doing so, they make it possible for those looking for self-improvement to make tangible moves beyond the vision board.  Each episode, the hosts speak to creatives and health experts in their respective fields to help the listener deepen their connection and understanding with themselves and the world around them.

5. The Mental Illness Happy Hour


Comedian Paul Gilmartin, who’s best known for being the host of TBS’s Dinner and a Movie, interviews friends, creatives, and mental health experts on how health issues impact those in the creative arts. Beyond being a safe space for those to work through their battles and share how they overcame setbacks, the podcast is a great resource for those looking for more traditional forms of therapy and help by providing resources, ranging from sexual assault to eating disorders, addiction to postpartum depression.

It is the one podcast in which you have to pay to listen, but with the wide-ranging of topics, they cover it would be hard not to find an episode that resonates with you and shakes you to your core.

Venturing into the wellness scene can be taxing, especially when you go it alone. It doesn’t have to be, especially with some good shows and wellness hacks.