My Expression

They All Effected Me in Some Way

Yesterday, I started off my series of blog posts about the beauties who have played a part special part in my 2018 by writing about Billy and Ken, who I met in Bridport early this year as part of TCFT.  I’ve decided to spend a little more time on some of the other people I spent time with in Bridport, as it was a meaningful part of my year.

Tina and Robert have been a special part of every one of my years since meeting them in 2015.  They are caring and wonderfully supportive, always there with words of advice and encouragement.  It was lovely to conduct video interviews with Robert for a third year – it has become one of my favourite parts of TCFT – and also hear more of his amazing stories.  Tina was the usual wonderful Tina, taking time to speak to me about TCFT Croydon (I’ll focus more on that in another post), but was also on hand to speak to me all throughout this year through our email exchanges and meetings in London.  She is truly the most amazing woman.

I’d never met Louise before this particular TCFT residency, but I was happy to finally meet her on this one.  Louise is kind, supportive and a very good listener – speaking to her was just what I needed when I was struggling slightly.  In addition to Louise, there was Louisa, a beautiful poet who I had the pleasure of leading out on workshops with.  There was a real yin and yang thing between the two of us, with Louisa being more of a page poet and me being more of a performance poet, which worked well.

Having dinner in the evening with my fellow artists was also one of the highlights of my week, with lovely food made by Alex, Rachael and Francesco, which I was incredibly thankful for.  I loved being able to spend some more time with my darling Francesco from Italy, who I felt like I bonded more with during that week.  I was able to have him read some of his beautiful poetry to me and we spent quite a bit of time dancing – he truly does bring me joy.

A lot of time was spent dancing when around the beautiful AK as well, who has the most amazing taste in music – his laptop and speaker brought me joy over and over again.  He also took a liking to my name, like the lovely Sam, Qan and Awais, who made me laugh a whole lot.

I developed a special bond with the talented Kaitlyn, whose energy would astound me.  We would have some really nice conversations and I foundnd myself offering words of advice as one of the older individuals there, but more than anything, I loved watching her grow in confidence and throw herself into the TCFT process.  Another young person I developed a bond with was Aimee, which seemed to happen over poetry.  What was hilarious to me was Aimee saying that she begun to read poems in my voice after seeing me perform, as I still don’t think that I’m that great of a poet.  I do know that I was able to inspire her in that week, which means a lot to me.

Being in a smaller group, I also got to spend some more time speaking to people from previous TCFT residencies that I had spent minimal amounts time with, like Finn, who is very funny, Kierra, who is very sweet, and the force that is Jade, who continues to grow more every year I see her.

However, the two individuals who played the biggest part in making my week special were my beautiful, beautiful hosts, Imanda and Makeda.  I had met them back in 2016 during the TCFT residency in Bournemouth, but I didn’t spend much time with them unfortunately, which is a shame because they are such inspiring individuals.

Imanda is one of the fiercest, loving, strongest women you will ever come across – a Mother Lion who will do all she can to protect her cubs.  She treated me with the most care and consideration, making me feel at home immediately.  I also enjoyed our evening chats, especially when she would share her life stories.  I am not exaggerating when I say she is amazing.  And then there is her lovely daughter Makeda, who is wise beyond her years and good at holding conversation herself.  We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and she definitely made me feel at home.  I loved staying with them and was actually sad to go.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to mention everyone, but I enjoyed spending time with every individual involved and they all had some sort of effect on me.  Every one of them is part of my TCFT family, who I love with all my heart.

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They Made Me a Better Person

On my last blog post, I reflected on ‘The Year of Shaniqua’, and mentioned that I wanted to do a series of blog posts about some of the beautiful people who have played a special part in my 2018.  When I thought about doing this series of post, two individuals that I met in TCFT in Bridport earlier this year came to mind.

I’m not really about labels and I don’t like putting anyone’s business out there, so I’ll just say that I had never met anyone like them before.  Meeting them made me more understanding, even more tolerant and less ignorant about certain things I had a lack of knowledge on.  I don’t think they realise how big of an impression they made on me.

More than anything, they became my friends, and if you know me, you’ll know that my friends mean a whole lot to me.  I enjoyed creating music with them, reading their lyrics, speaking about their questionable eating habits and having incredibly rich conversations.

Since meeting them in February, I’ve watched them grow and move forward in a myriad of ways, which is truly amazing, considering how shy and closed off they were when I first came into their orbit.  I am genuinely happy for them and proud of all that they have been able to achieve, especially artistically.

One of the most amazing things about being part of TCFT is developing relationships with individuals from all walks of life, which challenge you and expand your mindsets.  Meeting Billy and Ken definitely expanded my mindset and made be a better person.  The five days spent with them will have an impact on my whole life – I am literally not the same person I was before meeting the two of them.

I hope to see a little more of Billy and Ken in 2019, but more than anything, I hope that my friendship with them will continue for years to come and that we will have the opportunity to create more art together.

So to Billy and Ken, thank you for being such a special part of my 2018, contributing to my growth and having a significant impact on my life.  I love you lots.

How Am I 26 Today?

I can’t believe I’m 26 today.  Writing that and saying it out loud is actually mad.  Little me has really turned big 26 today.  I’ve passed the middle ground of 25 and am even closer to 30 – a crazy and at times terrifying thought.

From the moment I turned 25, I was dreading this birthday and the prospect of being 26 made me proper sad.  However, I became accustomed to the thought of it as the day drew closer and today I think I’m actually okay.  I don’t particularly like getting older, but I am a lot more comfortable with the age I am now and don’t feel as many of the pressures that came with 25.  I’m more at ease with who I’ve become and how my life has changed.  I’m also out of 2017, which was a horrible year, and I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

You read that right, I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  In fact, I am in a proper good place.  A number of things have contributed to that, but it mainly comes down to the amazing God I serve and the impact He has had – and continues to have – on my life.  God has supported and comforted me time and time again.  He’s granted me strength and resilience, while taking me through storms.  He has my back and saved my life in more ways than I could imagine.  Being near to Him brings me peace, joy, validation and so much more.  My relationship with God is a true blessing.

I’ve also taken time to slow down a bit, properly reflect and take the time to understand what I’m actually doing in my life, as I lost myself for a little while.  This has enabled me to really be in the present and appreciate everything around me by really taking note.  I have also finally been able to see how much I have achieved and how much I have grown over the past few years, which is genuinely surprising to me and I personally believe is pretty amazing.

The course of my life may have changed when I left university, so I was not where I projected myself to be at 25, but I can now acknowledge that I have something even better and I am so proud of what I’ve done.  I’ve started and maintained my own platform for young people, which I intend to develop further.  I am a lyricist, published writer and performing poet.  I’ve put on a cross-arts programme in my home town two years in a row, bringing young people together and spreading positivity.  I’ve been paid for facilitating workshops and had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing young people.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet very special and wonderful people from different walks of life, who I greatly appreciate.  My YP Insight family, my always extending TCFT family, my Queens Gardens peoples, my Mitcham Library crew and everyone in between (I’ll do another post fully highlighting the beautiful people in my life, because they are so many to mention and they deserve the shout outs).  I don’t think I would have come so far without the support, advice and laughter provided by them all.

There is definitely a lot further for me to go, and there is a lot more power for me to tap into, but I’m feeling pretty good at 26 at the moment.  Even though I say I’m getting old or feel old, I’m actually still young and I have done quite a lot as a young person.  I’m also content with how my life is on a more personal level – being married and having kids right now would not be right for me at this time of my life at all with everything that I have to do.  I enjoy being single and having the freedom to do as I please – I’m also still getting to know me and working on some of the mess that remains within.

So right now, I can smile and say ‘Happy Birthday to Me.  Shaniqua, you are a wonderful, hilarious, beautiful-hearted girl who has so much to give to the world.  Don’t sell yourself short, be a slave to fear, or doubt your abilities.  With God you can do anything.  Love you girl.’