Friday, 12 May 2017


A note from Joelle...
flowers, grunge, and hipster image

I’d known my new doctor for a whole twelve minutes before he wiped away my tears with a tissue from his pocket. There was a fresh box on the desk between us, but even he knew that I didn’t have the energy or willpower to dry my own tears and calm myself down.
He said he’d never seen anyone’s eyes as red as mine and the water he gave me was left touched but he understood how difficult it was for me to hold things without shaking. With my chest tightening and my mouth the driest it had ever been, I was punishing myself every second I went without a drink. But with absolutely zero fucks given about my own wellbeing, I knew something inside me cared because I was seeking medical help.

The burnout we often hear about has something to do with overheating, resulting in a reduction of fuel – cars and stuff. But the burnout I am more familiar with is a form of psychological distress that left me in tatters just months before graduating from university.

I passed it off as exhaustion because everyone in final year was exhausted. It’s pretty much a given when you’ve got lectures, three-hour labs, field trips, reports, group projects, dissertations, Masters applications, part-time jobs, relationships all with trying to maintain a social life at the same time. It’s not an easy for anyone so who was I to think I needed a break – a timeout from a hectic student life. Isn’t that kind of tiredness a rite of passage before the joy and celebrations that come with graduating and getting that first professional job? It was drummed into us at a young age that we are supposed to struggle and work flat-out now in order to earn the right to have a stable, well-paid job and a nice home later in life.

With that way of thinking, I didn’t have the right to complain about stress and exhaustion because everyone is exhausted. I ‘All Lives Matter’-ed myself and suffered the consequences all because I didn’t want to rock the boat and be seen as special.
But for me, I was more than just “exhausted”. I had given up on all my hobbies, had zero motivation, or a single ounce of enthusiasm for life anymore. Life as a hermit caused friendships to dissolve faster than the energy tablets I was slipping into my drinks every three hours, but I was completely disillusioned about the whole thing.
With all this came the frustration of not knowing what was actually wrong with me. My bones ached; my head constantly processed too many thoughts at once, leaving me dazed and unable to make basic decisions.

A stormy cloud of self-pity that billowed above my head went into overdrive every day and all I could do was stay still, hoping it would pass. The smallest of mistakes like leaving the tap running whilst cleaning my teeth could leave me hurling peppermint-infused insults at myself in the mirror.

This was not the same as anxiety and depression because I had experienced both for years and could tell that this was something different and brought on by something else. But what?
It’s not that I was overemotional; it was that I simply had no emotions at all. I had completely detached myself from my life and had no desire to restore what was once a really great life. I didn’t care at all because I saw myself as helpless and hopeless and that was that.
I was always told that more sleep would get rid of stress but I found myself oversleeping and wasting the days away. I knew I had to do something else before this weird state ruined everything I’d worked so hard for as just twenty-two years old.

I’m not alone, which is both a blessing and a worry. Research tells me that ‘Millennial Burnout’ is high amongst professional young women and burnout in general is high in the Black diaspora in the West. I see a link between the two mainly because I fit in both brackets: we are brought up as overachievers. Failure, no matter how small is weakness and that way of thinking is damaging young people. Overachievers can’t be quitters. Ambition and strenuous work comes first and everything is second – including rest. Minorities in particular often get lost in this mantra and sacrifice their sanity in order to make it to the same levels as our mediocre contemporaries. How many of us were told that “we have to work twice as hard to get the same place as other people”?
I took that phrase at a young age and ran with it. It left me always stressed and worried that I wasn’t doing enough to advance to a better class set/university course/job/lifestyle. It sucked the fun out of being young and I struggled relax around people because every minute I was at a party was a minute wasted not applying for internships, extra courses and jobs.

A lot is expected of young people, but we are seen as selfish, narcissists because we are creating new industries that are alien to other people. Most of us leave with degrees in a wide range of subjects (that wasn’t available to previous generations), we are seen as lazy for shunning manual labour and more traditional suit and tie jobs. We are seen as lazy because we are on laptops and smartphones all day and some older people can’t get their heads around that fact that times are changing and digital creative industry can bring in as much (if not, more) money as standard office jobs.

Now, burnout can come into play with a lot of us working remotely or freelancing. We forget to take scheduled breaks and can easily work well into the night. But because it’s ‘social’ media, we see browsing the web for work and pleasure as a single continuum – no clear boarders.
This is another way that life can become unbalanced, causing stress to take over.

I’m sure you’ve read this expecting a 5-step plan from me on how to cure burnout, but I don’t have the answers, beloved. Seeking medical help was a really good step, but I am still learning and a huge part of that journey is *unlearning*.

Unlearning the idea that you have to work yourself into an early grave to achieve your dreams. Unlearning the notion that everyone on social media is living an incredible life and mine is shit in comparison. Unlearning the once mentally crippling concept that young people need to struggle and half-kill themselves in order to one day accepted into adulthood. That’s the biggest lie of all.
Ambition is great, but so is balance and perspective. You can choose them all and have it all.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Campo Colour Lab Wine Tasting x Norte

A note from Joelle... 
The Colour Lab by Campo Viejo is an interactive wine tasting experience that launched in March at Spanish restaurant Norte (Regent St, Piccadilly). 
I was lucky enough to be invited down last month to try the unique wine tasting experience and some tapas. 
Allow me to *spill*... (sorry - I really couldn't come up with a better pun!)
We assembled into a small room and were seated with three black wine glasses in front of us. The opaque glasses masked the colour of the wine, making it a bit harder for us to know what we were drinking.
After a little test, we were divided into two types of taste bud characteristics. This would fine distinguish the way we taste wine and what we get from them.
We did the traditional swirling of the wine and then smelling before taking a sip and discussing what we could taste. We were all certain that we knew the colour of all the wines (red, white, rose, etc.), but things were about to get interesting...
To be honest, I didn't think a change in the mood lighting would make a difference to the taste of the wine, but it did!
We started off in a bright but tame white lighting and the wines tasted relatively normal. No one noticed anything strange and we were all sure that we knew the types and colors of the wines in front of us - easy stuff.
The lighting changed to a soothing blue, and the flavour was less intense and more fruity instead of fresh.
We were all in agreement that the green lighting made us feel uncomfortable and this resulted in the wines tasting very intense - almost like vinegar. 
The whole idea sounds bizarre, but they have found the perfect mood lighting to match the relaxing dining experience without compromising on the wines and food. My best lighting was the red - everything tasted better in my opinion.
The tapas is pretty nifty too - all the meats, peppers and other ingredients are of excellent quality and the owners go to Spain almost weekly to source out the most authentic Spanish foods.
This wine tasting experience is not to be missed, especially if you're looking for a fun thing to do before a meal at Norte. 
Many thanks to Farrah and the team for having me!

2 Regent St, St. James's, London SW1Y 4LR

Monday, 3 April 2017

My Favourite Theatre Experiences

A note from Joelle... 

Hello and happy April! This year is whizzing by and I'm quite happy about that because London has a really nice and more relaxed vibe in the sunshine.
With bank holidays and Easter breaks approaching, it's a busy time for theatres, as they usually get quite busy around these times.
The theatre can open your eyes to incredible stories, productions, and actors, as well as immersing yourself in their world of music and dance - a few hours of blissful escapism!

You know I love going to the theatre and try out different genres, so in collaboration with, here are my top 3 favourite theatre moments from the last few years:

3) On my birthday weekend, I tried to get tickets for Uncle Vanya at the Almeida, but after failing miserably, I stumbled upon another show. This was a smaller fringe show at the Pleasance Theatre and performed by two best friends. Scary Shit was really, really powerful and intense - not what I was expecting at all.
The show was an emotional journey for not only the performers but for the audience too. I laughed a lot and shed genuine tears over their true stories. They were vulnerable and strong at the same time and it rubbed off on me. I left the theatre feeling refreshed and a few feet taller and it' a show I'll never forget.
It led me to seek out more non-West End shows and for that, I'm most grateful.
untitled (68 of 72)

2) Sticking with the "weird" theme, I saw a show in 2015 that left me with so many questions. On a whim, I booked tickets for a new Simon Steven's play, Carmen Disruption at the Almeida and managed to get a pretty good box seat for the first preview show. I had no idea what it was about and went alone. 
It certainly divided opinion, but I loved it - but I honestly pinpoint why. If you read my review, you'll see that I was left almost disturbed by the whole storyline the first time. A week later, I took a friend to see the show and it was like seeing it in a new light. I finally 'got it'.

1) It's a bigg'un! 
All the way back in 2010, my sister and I hopped on a tube and landed at the Gielgud Theatre to see the revival of HAIR. When it opened in the 60s on Broadway and the West End, people were outraged by the drug/sex/religious references as well as the onstage full nudity of the entire cast right at the end of Act I.
All of this was kept in the show when we watched it, but the best bit about it was the audience participation during the finale.
My sister and I were in the peasant seats in the Grand Circle, but cast members climbed on top of the balcony, inviting us down onto the stage! We were not going to miss this opportunity and jumped out of our seats, heading for the stage to join in singing The Flesh Failures/Let The Sun Shine In.
It's one of those moments I'll never forget because it was inclusive and vibrant. There were real flowers being tossed into the crowd, strangers joining hands and peace signs being thrust into the air unapologetically. 
It was the kind of feel-good escapism that draws so many people to the theatres every day and in these dark times, we need more of it.

Next up, I'm looking for some good shows to see over the Easter period. I've currently got my eye on An American in Paris, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and School of Rock.
Got any shows you're keen to see? Let me know!

This post is sponsored by


Saturday, 25 March 2017

"Sally Cinnamon" Rolls

A note from Joelle... 

I've  caught the baking bug again! It's great news for everyone and everything except my waistline. 

Now, I've made Swedish cinnamon buns before (kanelbulle) but this was the first time making American-style ones. These are much bigger, made to tear apart, fluffy and soft in the middle and are made in a big pan altogether. Once cooled a little bit, they are drizzled
(more in my case, drenched!) in vanilla cream cheese frosting - perfect!
Impress yourself and your mates with this really easy recipe that can literally feed like, 100 people.


100g plain flour
A splash of milk
4 tbsp Melted butter (unsalted)
Softened butter (unsalted)
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4tbsp white sugar
1 packet or 1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp baking powder 
A pinch of salt

2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp milk
2tbsp cream cheese
4 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the bread, pour the milk, melted butter and sugar into a bowl, add the dry yeast and let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes. Add the sieve in the flour and then fold the mixture. It will be very sticky and maybe a bit lumpy but that's just how it is!
Place cling film or a kitchen towel over the bowl and allow it to rest for 1 hour. PLEASE don't skip this step, the rolls won't get that airy rise if the dough doesn't prove at room temperature.
When the hour is up, admire your beauty! My dough tripled in size but once you then work in the baking powder, salt and another half cup of flour, you'll notice it shrink back to size.

Roll out the dough into an oblong and try to get it evenly thin (around 1cm)
Spread some softened butter on the dough first, then sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar.
Start rolling from the long end of the oblong until you get one giant roll and then cut the roll every 5cm or so. Don't worry if the whirls are super-tight, as we are baking them all together, they won't spread too much and lose shape.
Place all the rolls in a dish and allow them to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking at 180C for
Whilst the rolls are baking, it's time to make the delicious icing!
In a bowl, add the soft butter, soft cheese (I used Philadelphia), vanilla, milk and stir until smooth. Then add the icing sugar and stir until all is incorporated. Boom - you're done!
Once golden brown, take out of the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then drizzle on the icing, whilst the rolls are still warm.
Eat straight away, but they are amazing cold too!

Let me know if you make these - they are totally worth all the faff! The perfect Sunday treat!


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