Blogs and Books Club: Your 24 hour warning

After reading 'You are a Badass' for the second time, it's safe to say that I'm raring to get chatting to you all about it. Affirmations, "the big snooze" and self-help as a genre: I want to know your thoughts! So, I for one can't wait for the second ever Blogs and Books Chat at 7pm GMT (find out how that translates to your time zone here) tomorrow.

6 ways that you can support women, now that the march is over

On Saturday, millions of badass people worldwide marched in solidarity with our sisters in America, following the inauguration of a president who fuelled his campaign on hate. Here in the UK, we made London come to a literal standstill. 100,000 of us got our voices heard and let the government know that we, and our desire for equality in all areas of life, were not going away any time soon. As I said in my post about the march, being part of a protest so full of hope was a nourishing experience. It reaffirmed in me that the future will be better than the present, as long as we keep working for it.

Persistence in matters like this is invaluable. We did the march, we chanted, we showed that we care about women's rights, so now is the time to pledge to ourselves that we will take long-term action. That's when change really begins.

Whether you were able to be a part of the Women's March or not, there are so many ways that you can help the cause. These are just a few of them to get you started. If you know of any more, leave them in the comments bellow and let's keep this revolution going!

Women's March London

I’ve spent today trying to figure out how I can put into words what being a part of the Women’s March London yesterday felt like. As well ‘otherworldly’, ‘fucking incredible’ and ‘life changing’, the main word that keeps coming back to be is 'nourishing'. I feel like I’ve grown as a person. I feel like I’ve had my mission in life affirmed to me, by a crowd of 100,000 people. I feel aware more than ever, that I’m a part of a community that is fuelled by nothing but love, hope, respect and anger at people that don’t abide by those simple pillars of humanity.

Basically, it feels damn good to be a part of the sisterhood right now.

Girl Love #7

Do you ever feel so good that you start to question yourself?

"Why am I feeling so bloody amazing? Do I not have work to be stressing over? Have I forgotten about some form of impending doom?"

Becuase that has been my internal monologue throughout January so far. I've been feeling glowy. The kind of glowy that means I smile at people in the street and wake up wanting to do my work. Yep, even in this gloomy London weather where it's pretty much perpetually dark and rainy.  Frankly, even though it's been rather wonderful, it also left me feeling kind of befuddled. I had no idea where this internal glow had come from. I didn't know whether it was the residual happiness left over from Christmas or the fact that I've been reading "You Are a Badass" in preparation for this month's Blogs and Books Club. To be honest, I think they've both had something to do with it. I'm like a badass who is still all full of cheese and festive cheer. But on top of that, I realised that I've been surrounding myself with the right kinds of people. Both online and off, I've been absorbing the enthusiasm and peace of the positive influences in my life and learning to deflect negative energy. I'm slowly becoming more aware of the stories that I tell myself, which was one of my resolutions for 2017.

5 things that are totally normal about your period

If you’re looking for this post to be the lexical equivalent to a sanitary towel advert that uses that weird blue liquid to represent blood and shows women going for bike rides in white shorts, this isn’t the one for you. Maybe check out a favourites post or something a little more vanilla.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while though, you probably already know that I have absolutely no problem talking about my period, be that the products I use, how I ease cramps or the ways that I attempt to make the whole thing slightly easier. Although I did go through my “oh my god why are pads so noisy to open? I hope nobody guesses that I’m bleeding out of my vagina” phase, I kind of got over that when I realised that society’s fear of menstruation is, frankly, stupid. Not only is it totally normal and something that you share with approximately half of the adult population, it’s also pretty badass that your body is able to do all of that.

Unfortunately, some people still get a bit uncomfortable talking about vaginas. Trust me, I get it. It’s not your fault that society (read: the patriarchy) has conditioned you to be embarrassed of a natural bodily process. So, today I thought I would share with you 5 things that you might not feel as comfortable chatting about over tea as I do, but that are totally and completely normal.

A letter to those that voted against compulsory sex education

To say that I'm disappointed with you for the recent decision to not make sex and relationship education compulsory would be a lie. After all, that would require me not having already lost all of my faith in the government after Brexit actually became a thing. So, I'm not going to suggest that you've crushed my soul. To be honest, I'm not really that surprised either. I guess I already knew that our society values grades more than the mental health of our children.

But the whole thing did make me question whether you actually remember what it's like being smack bang in the middle of adolescence? You know, adolescence in all of its "Nobody understands me. I hope nobody's looking at this massive spot on my face. I don't actually know that I need to use deodorant yet" glory. Well, I'm only 19. I definitely remember it. If you don't, let me remind you: It can get pretty bloody awful. As well as growing boobs and/or armpit hair, you're expected to take on the first proper responsibilities of your life, be academically successful (lest you be told you're a typically lazy millennial) and try to deal with the fact that you're becoming a sexual being. Remember that? Well, the pretty amazing thing is that you're in a position where you could make some of that a little bit easier.

You have the power to teach young people that they are normal. That there is no shame in wanting sex. That they are worthy of healthy, happy relationships that are based on mutual trust and respect. 

Accounts that makes Instagram a better place to be

You don't need me to tell you that Instagram's latest algorithm is pretty shit. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. Except for Instagram, apparently. It can make the whole thing, especially when it comes to using it for business, rather disheartening. It's no longer enough to create likeable pictures with engaging captions, you now have to fit into a little space that Instagram has created for "the right kind of content". Sometimes it feels like posting is pointless and that scrolling is even more pointless because every third picture is an ad of some kind. Not that I'm against insta-babes getting that cash, but it just gets a bit much.

With this is mind, I thought I would compile a little list of some of my favourite current Instagram accounts to brighten your scrolling experience. You can thank me later.

How cruel is my makeup bag?

As I said in my New Year's Resolutions post, 2017 is going to be the year that I start supporting the kinds of companies that actually deserve my support. Whether that means saving and spending more money, or not being able to get it all the next day through Amazon Prime, I want to be a more conscious consumer. It's time to stop being lazy and just buying things because someone online tells me to. Because, frankly, looking at where my money has gone over the last few years makes me feel like a shitty human. I'm acutely aware that I've indirectly supported the use of sweat shops, unfair trading and animal testing. That's really, really not cool.

So, in true Leena Norms-style and to kick off my at home revolution, I decided to go through my makeup bag and figure out just what I won't be purchasing again once they've been used up. I used the website Logical Harmony (basically the definitive list of bunny free beauty) to find out how much of my makeup is tested on animals, as well as doing a bit of my own research when certain products were listed in the "pending brands" category.

But enough rambling, let's start making ourselves better humans.

In defence of self-help

Admitting that I like self-help books feels like I’m admitting that I have an extensive stamp collection on display in the spare bedroom of my house. It’s just not cool. Granted, the genre has become slightly more mainstream in recent years with the release of books that effortlessly walk the line between memoir and self-help and/or have much snazzier covers. But a love for self-help is still the kind of love that you keep hidden from society until you find a fellow enthusiast. Then, and only then, do you throw open the doors to your metaphoric spare room, turn on your metaphoric display lamps and revel in your shared adoration in all of its metaphoric crimped edged glory.

Yet, here I am, admitting it for the world to see: I love self-help books. I could call them ‘self-improvement’ books but I think that denies their troublesome and wholly uncool past. I wouldn’t want to do that.

Three things not to do in the New Year

Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those blog posts that’s going to tell you that time is a human construct and that New Year’s resolutions are, as such, totally arbitrary. As far as I’m concerned, if flipping a calendar page is enough encouragement to make real people make real changes, that’s pretty damn wonderful. I love setting New Year’s goals. And, for a while at least, they keep me motivated to learn and to do better. Just looking at the ones I’ve made this year makes me giddy with excitement.

However, I’m kind of wary of fully buying into the “New Year, New Me” mentality. I think the way our society has integrated the New Year into its fabric definitely has its pitfalls. Whilst it should be used as a little push in the right direction, I feel like too often it encourages self-loathing and punishment for just being human. 

How I'm going to make myself proud in 2017

Usually I start the year with a "come at me" attitude. I post a sassy quote or two on Instagram, vow that I'm going to work my butt off and then I hit the ground running.

This year has been different. When the clock ticked over and a new year began this time around, I felt calm. I'm so unshakably confident that 2017 is going to be a good one. I feel like the last 365 days, which were so full of lessons, were preparing me for the blessings that are coming my way this year. And as such, I don't feel like I'm in competition with this huge expanse of time that's in front of me. I don't feel like I'm about to fight 2017. I don't feel like I need an 'I'll sleep when I'm dead', complete girlboss attitude to kick off the year.

Instead, I'm starting 2017 by asking it to dance. I truly believe that we're going to work together to make something beautiful. My resolutions this year aren't about pushing through something or forcing myself to make positive changes, they're more about following what I already know is right. I'm not going to try to post every day, get to 25k on Instagram or get abs (which, by the way, are totally legitimate and admirable goals if that's where you're at). This year, I want to free my creativity and make myself even more proud, and I have a few little plans that I know will help me along the way.