I used to turn life into a poem.

Today, I got a message from a friend. A friend whom once I shared every hour of every day with – that was up until the day came that we went our separate ways, flights to separate countries. We’ve kept in touch, and today’s message was a photo. The photo was of a poem I wrote for her on my typewriter (at the time, a new secondhand addition to my London flat), and it was framed and on display in her sister’s bedroom. It was a poem I’d always loved; a poem about thinking and respecting where you’re sat

St. Pauls was and is my favourite building in London. I would walk past it, and it’s sheer size and beauty, would force an inhale of air to my lungs; a reminder that where I was, was spectacular.

st. pauls - a poem

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think, 
of how many people have stood where i am sat.
the years of history trampled under foot, 
under breath.

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think,
of how many people have walked past here crying, 
where they came from,
what they left behind that broke their hearts.
i ponder what year they lived.

i sit on the steps at st. pauls and i think,
of how many people have walked past here holding hands,
laughing,
talking to somebody,
thinking of someone.

at the steps at st. pauls i beg you to smile,
at the thought of where you're sat right now. 
where you are now has been there before you,
will be there after you, 
it hosts thousands of stories.

feel the stories, hear the stories,
be a story of your own. 

by paige bolland 

Yes, I used to live in London and contemplate life, and mind, under beautiful historic buildings, writing out my feelings as I went. But I don’t anymore. I guess I still struggle with not being that poetic with my feelings anymore, and I suppose this blog is an attempt at trying to understand and accept this.

Yes, I used to turn life into poetry, but now I’m too busy trying to live life to romanticise it –

– and that’s okay.

Healthy Habits I Learnt From Isolation

As we near the end of lockdown in New Zealand, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on the last 5 weeks away from the real world. This concept of bubbles, and staying away from others, has saved thousands of lives in our little country, but it has also taught us lots individually. I know personally, I have formed several healthy habits from this self-isolation that will absolutely change my life and the attitude I have whilst living it.

Here’s 4 things I learnt:

Running is good for the mind and the waistline

After about a week of moping around the house, I decided I wasn’t doing myself any favours when I had so much time on my hands.

So I downloaded the free app C25K, and I went from there. I used to run nearly everyday, so I found this was the perfect app to remind my muscles how to do their thing without burning myself out. After four weeks I have now finished the app’s program, and I’m happily running 4 or 5km daily on my own and definitely reaping the benefits. I have significantly more energy, and I’ve reminded myself why I used to enjoy pounding the pavement when I lived in London. Not only does it slim the waistline and make you feel more confident in your own skin, it’s a sure way to clear your mind for a half hour. It’s time to yourself, to focus on your breath and the strength your body has.

  • I’ve decided that coming out of lockdown I’m going to cease my gym membership, save the dollars, and continue running for my fitness. I will do home HIIT workouts and stretch using online yoga videos.

 

Caffeine is not my friend, nor my wallet’s

If you know me, the biggest shock that could come out of my mouth would be “I quit caffeine”. I’m pretty sure I even once started writing a blog titled ‘Death Before Decaf’ – basically, if you don’t know me, I would typically buy/drink 3-to-4 lattes a day. Nonetheless, this brings me to my second healthy habit picked up during lockdown. I decided to swap out my drinks for a decaf alternative, and honestly I don’t think I’ll go back. I have not had caffeine for a month, and I’ve been sleeping significantly better, I’ve passed the period of withdrawal headaches, and I’m still enjoying a cup of coffee or tea every day just minus the caffeine.

  • Getting back into my daily life, I will religiously restrict my purchasing of coffee, and help my body and wallet by, instead, drinking more water and buying a jar of decaf coffee and using my cafetière at home.

 

Screen-time is terrible for my head

I’m sure it doesn’t come as a shock when I say that lockdown was pretty much us being forced into day long Netflix sessions. Yes, I’ve done my running and my daily walks on the beach, but that still left me a lot of my days to sit and watch Netflix, write on my laptop, or scroll through my social media accounts. I’ve always had sensitive eyes when it comes to light, but I’ve never truly realised the strain that screens – and blue light – have on my eyes and head.

I do have glasses with blue light lenses, and as much as I knew they worked/were skeptical of their abilities, I didn’t fully realise the world of good they do for me. After several nights of splitting headaches, and terrible eye strain, I decided to do some experimenting. I wore my glasses for 3 days, and continued watching Netflix as per (excessive) normal, and got far less headaches. I then decided to change my display settings on both my laptop and phone to an anti-blue-light hue (so basically yellow) and it has completely obliterated my headaches. It’s insane how much this worked. So, when I’m using my laptop and phone I need not wear my glasses as much, but I still continue to wear them whilst I’m watching TV.

  • Blue light is so bad for my eyes and head, changing my phone’s display settings to warmer tones – in combination with my blue light glasses – has bid a warm farewell to my headaches caused by screens.

 

Saving money is easy when you change your mindset

Temptation is defined as ‘a thing that attracts someone’. I can say, that for a lot of Kiwis, the temptation to spend money has significantly reduced since lockdown. Yes, most online shopping sites have continued, but without the frequent visits to shops, social venues, bars, restaurants and even the likes of gyms and recreation centres, we have had a great opportunity this last month to put money aside and/or cut back on leisure spends.

On top of this lack of temptation, I’ve had a lot of free time to really stress about money – and then transition into really focusing on creating a plan to save it. It was really this last month that I truly have found a motivation, and full-proof mentality, into being the most financially stable in all my life.

  • I have cut down my expenses; moved to a phone plan $45 cheaper than my previous plan, cancelled a weekly gym membership and replaced it with running and home workouts, and crunched numbers to figure out how many hours I need to work a week and what percentage of my pay-check needs to be put aside, in order to reach my targets.

 


 

I hope you have all enjoyed some time to rest and recover. I encourage everyone to think about what’s been achieved in this isolation period, but also to think about what sort of person they want to be coming out of it. It’s never to late to insert some healthy habits into your life.

Stay safe, stay in your bubble, stay happy x

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The Anxious Girl’s Guide To Isolation

Hey y’all, and welcome to Lockdown. If you’re a fellow kiwi, or whether your country is already in quarantine-mode, you’ll be bunkered down and preparing for several weeks of isolation.

So, unfortunately, today’s blog is brought to you by Covid-19 – and our global battle in fighting it. It’s really important to note, that by staying home, we are all saving lives. Very literally, saving lives.

If you’re anything like me, these last few days and weeks may have triggered a little bit of stress and panic. It’s quite a solemn thing to hear your Prime Minister announce a nationwide lockdown, that shit IS SERIOUS, and when you fully process it, it does bring on some unwanted thinking.

So, today I present: ‘The Anxious Girl’s Guide to Isolation’.

Know Your Sources

First and foremost, keep updated with the news but, be aware of what you’re reading. There are so many journalists and so many opinions out there, so it’s important to read and focus on those official government updates in your country. In New Zealand I suggest sticking to www.covid19.govt.nz and watching the updates on Channel One News – which airs around midday, daily.

I found I got more anxious with the more News Sites I scrolled through. Yes the articles out there are mostly factual and informative, but they are also infested with sadness and distress. When the world is in global crisis, mental health is important, and sometimes leaving these articles be, is the ‘ignorant bliss’ you need to keep yourself safe and healthy.

  • Limit yourself to two official forms of updates.
  • Stay focused on local events and local coverage.
  • Don’t spend all day burying yourself in facts and stats online.
  • This is only temporary.

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Lockdown doesn’t mean locked in

Make sure you understand, that in lockdown, you can still leave your house. In fact, it has been exceedingly encouraged by the Prime Minister, to do just that. Fresh air, and wide open spaces, are great for mental health. Moving our bodies has been shown to decrease levels of tension, boost our mood, improve the quality of our sleep, and improve self-esteem. I’m sure we can all understand and appreciate how exercise helps our anxious minds when the world is good, so need I say how important it is now that the world is in a state of emergency?

If your anxiety overwhelms the possibility of leaving your gate, or you live in an apartment building where leaving home isn’t an option, please at least open a window. Let the sun and air in as much as possible. Put music on and dance, keep moving that beautiful body of yours. And, please remember, that even though we can’t venture far, physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. Talk about what is going on, share your concerns and thoughts about everything with friends and family; you will not be the only one who is thinking these things.

  • Go for a walk/run. Take those in your isolation space with you, or go for a solo walk.
  • Get someone to meet you at the beach or a local park. Just remember to keep your 2-metre-minimum distant.
  • Video-chat your friends and be creative with social media.
  • Do online yoga classes – I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene.
  • This is only temporary.

Keep A Routine

This applies to both those who are working from home during the isolation period, and to those who are not. I cannot emphasise enough, how important it is to try and maintain a normal life as much as you can. I’m not saying set an alarm for 6am, but make your bed every morning, have meals at regular intervals, schedule in your washing, put time aside to workout, and open your curtains!

If you do need to work from home: Designate a space away from your relaxing and sleeping areas, to assure the differentiation between working and having finished for the day. I suggest having a set up in an office or at a table where you work only; get dressed and out of pyjamas before you start, eat your lunch way from this space, go outside and have your afternoon cup of tea. Don’t go near that space unless you’re working.

If you’re lucky enough to not be working from home: Try and put some time aside in the first few days of isolation to figure out things you’d like to achieve over the lockdown period. A few examples:

  1. Learn a new language (e.g. sign language)
  2. Write a book, start a blog, or express yourself through poetry
  3. Organise your photos into albums/clean out your phone’s photo albums
  4. Do some gardening, and some DIY landscaping
  5. Perfect a handstand
  6. Alphabetically organise your books, CDs, & DVDs
  7. Meal prep
  8. Write letters to the grandparents
  9. Read ‘X’ amount of books
  10. Rearrange your room

This is also the perfect time for a solid Spring/Autumn clean – go through clothes, old papers, the cupboard when you throw all the junk, and rid yourself of anything you don’t need. Because, of course, a clean space helps with a clean mind.

  • Shower, get dressed, and make your bed everyday.
  • Schedule your days to optimise time and maintain some normality.
  • Divide your space into work and play – never mix the two. Make sure your clothing also represents what mode you are in.
  • Set goals that you can achieve from home.
  • This is only temporary.

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I think if we all follow these guidelines, isolation will become less daunting and more normal with everyday that comes. Remember:

  1. Know your sources
  2. Lockdown doesn’t mean locked in
  3. Keep a routine

It is okay to worry, and it is okay to find this scary – you’ll probably never see something this historic in your lifetime again. However, please remember that this is temporary. You are staying home to save lives, and to stay healthy. We will make it through this, and we – and the world – will resurface better than ever.

If you need to chat, please contact me on Instagram at @paigebolland.

Stay home, stay clean, stay safe, and unite against Covid-19. All of the love to you all.

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The Moon Is A Friend

Today has not been a good day.

I’ve had arguments over space, discussions about my face, and stress caused by money and the lack of its place. I’ve swallowed tears, my head has throbbed and my heart has raced, all in the last 24 hours.

I struggled to fall asleep, over nothing but a mind that won’t switch off, which led to a day where I didn’t even have the energy to smile. You don’t wear make-up anymore; how is your personal life? – I’m happy, and I’m enjoying my days between the nights, but these last 24 hours just haven’t been the best. I guess that is the problem with mental health, it never really leaves you. Like a moon, hidden behind clouds and daylight, it shines brighter some days, and can be invisible the next.

Today I listened to a song, which sang the romantic gesture of moon-giving. But when I look at the moon, I’m reminded of everything I stress about. I am reminded of the nights over the length of my life spent crying to the sky, wishing for a clear head, because where else do we look when our heads feel heavy. We look up, hoping to feel small; we look up, for advice from the universe. So when I see the moon, I see the projections of my past, not the romance I hear through my headphones.

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ― Carl Sandburg, Poet

Even though I see the moon as a hole in the night sky where, since the age my head starting spinning, I’ve shoved everything to hide it away, I can recognise it’s beauty. A strange beauty. A love-hate beauty of past and future.

I’m merely thinking aloud.

Trying To Find My Space

It’s 00:34 and I can’t sleep. Maybe I owe it to the two coffees I’ve had since 6pm, or maybe it’s the fact my mind is whizzing around within itself and no matter how many Netflix episodes I watch, it won’t stop.

361 days. That’s how long I’ve been in New Zealand. It’s now November, and that is terrifying to me, ’cause I swear I just blinked and this entire last year  disappeared. I had a list of goals, or resolutions for my return home, and in actual fact all I’ve done over the last 12 months is chase my own tail in hopes of finding my space. Finding where I belong in this little country, and figuring out how I actually want to live my life here.

In London, I was a reader; I was a writer; I was an adventurer. Even after three and half years of living in the Big Smoke, I made a point of making most of my days off. I would adventure into a new museum, seek out a cafe to read a book in, go for wanders and explore. Over the last 361 days, I have not finished a single book, I’ve barely written a blog worth reading, and I have not adventured out of my town as many times as I would have expected or liked to. And, to be quite frank, it’s uninspiring. I feel like I am either:

a) Finding it difficult to find my true self now I have the openness of New Zealand.

OR

b) I’m losing who I really am because I am no longer in London.

A rock and a hard place type situation if you ask me, sounds dramatic but it’s a hard thing to process. And this last year has been a process.  I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s been so hard, I thought coming home would solve everything; back to the comforts, back to the people who have known me the longest – oh how I was wrong. In reality, London was my comfort zone because I had space. I’m a thinker, I “deal with”( or try to) in an emotional way, and in London – where I was one in eight million odd – I had that space to expel my thoughts outwards. Into the busyness, and the faces that walked past. Yes, this busyness fell somewhere into my reasons for leaving, but the ability to disappear into a crowd I took for granted.

Now that I am home, I am one in 40,000. I am back to being in a family. I am back to having fewer friends, and back to feeling like my life is under a microscope. People are more interested in my life here, in London the people in my life had their own ventures and desires to consume their days with. And that interest, that love and curiosity, is so new to me. I’m used to being on my own, and having to protect and serve myself. It seems silly when I write it aloud, but I struggle with the constant interest in my life almost as much as I did the feeling of lack of support which lead me to move here in the first place. I feel like the opinions and thoughts of others are louder than my own thoughts, and I feel confused by the lack of direction in my own mind.

So, really, what has happened over the last year?

I suppose I have grown. And I’ve learnt new things. I’ve played trial and error on my employment and living situations, and I suppose both are better than they were November last year. I’ve met new people, and rekindled old friendships. My life here may not be the fantasy and dream I imagined it would be, but when is anything what’s advertised. I need to trust in the fact my life is happening as it should be. It may not be fast-paced, excitable nor productive, but it’s a start. It’s been a year of settling-in. And, maybe, this next year will be even more settling-in. I need to keep reminding myself that that’s okay.

One year. I guess I live in New Zealand now.

Sit & Be Warm

They say you should always be in touch with your feelings; get a diary and fill in the lines with words, find a friend and talk it out, add a tally line to the list of things that worry you. Well, I suppose those do work, but sometimes it’s not that complicated. And yes, you read that right – maybe the resolution we need is a little too simple, that we overlook it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little better about this whole “I live in New Zealand now” thing, but today was a slightly not-so-great day. Not a bad day – don’t be mistaken – it was just one of those days where I felt a tiny bit engulfed again, about work mostly but also the lacking and overwhelm of my life all at once. As the last hour of work for the day came to a close, I decided I would not let the stress devour my evening as it once would.

So, right now, I’m sitting in front of the fireplace, sat upon a brown woven floor cushion; my new favourite thing. And with a glass of Pinot Gris, and Julia Michaels’ latest album playing,  I’m feeling less stressed with every sip and chorus. Since moving to New Zealand, I’ve found less saviour in words, and more so in actions of bliss. I don’t quite know how else to put it. I guess, sitting here right now feels more therapeutic than thinking.

So, I recommend two things to you on this fine evening.

1/One – take some time to just sit and be warm, whether that be in the arms of someone you love, outside in the sunshine, or in front of a wood burner – enjoy that small moment.

2/Two – listen to Julia Michaels’ music, I’ve come to realise she’s an actual lyrical genius/speaker of truth/queen.

I suppose this is one of those blogs I post that isn’t really a blog, and more a thought. I hope you enjoyed this little Friday thought process. And remember, life itself is a process, don’t try skip the slow parts.

A Piece of Advice On Time

I’ve been wanting to write a blog about this for a while now, but I’ve been held back by the thought of not being one to talk when things still fall apart before my eyes some days. So based on the fact I’ll never be an expert on the matter, I’m gonna write it regardless – and hopefully I’ll help myself in the process.

So, here it is – a blog on managing life and finding time.

Life is never easy. You can feel the pressures from all angles some days, and you can feel like you’re losing control of even the simplest of things; your home is messy, you don’t have time for breakfast, and you’re always buying your lunch because who the %$*@ has time for meal-prep. Raise your right hand if you can relate; don’t even get me started about skipping your gym workouts for 7-days straight, or the fact of all that is in your fridge is a can of whipped cream and a jar of peach chutney. I get it, cause right now that life is mine. I mean, I am literally squirting cream from a can into my mouth – intermittently – as I write this.

I recently started a new job as a restaurant manager; ironic, right? I get paid to organise operational tasks of a restaurant and bar, yet I can never manage to have clean socks. At the start of the year I was at the gym everyday, if not twice a day, I was downing smoothies which were 50% spinach, and I was constantly putting time aside everyday for my writing or my to-read pile. However, since switching from a part-time, 9-5, to my new job which includes an hour commute each way, I’ve lost the assurance of the routine I used to have. I’ve come to realise that finding a routine after shifting your life’s pattern, is not easy! Ask anyone. So, if this is you; your life has changed in some way (new home, new job), don’t expect it to just happen.

So how does one figure that out? How can you find the time to do these things? Well, as annoying as it may sound, it’s completely on your shoulders. Remember in high school when you were given an assignment which was due in 5 months, and you left it until the last week, and still managed to hurriedly finish it on time? Yeah, well that is a fine example of how time is always there – if you’re willing to realise the fact.

“I’ve been so busy” is the new “I’m fine”, and we use it without even thinking about the words before we speak them. I know firsthand it’s easier said than done, to just make the time to bang out those chores, but it definitely is all about mindset.

Okay, so you’re busy and you haven’t been to the gym in a week; want a solution? Get up an hour earlier. If you genuinely want to get your arse burning, you have to want to do it. No one is going to come dress you, no one can make you pick up some dumbbells – that’s crazy! So, set your alarm for 6am instead of 7am, and just do it.

And like everything else; washing, groceries, returning your library books which have accumulated a $10 fee (not me), JUST DO IT. I know you were probably coming to this blog for more precise advice, so I’m sorry, but I’m hitting you with a reality check!

So, on that note, I’m gonna kick myself up the arse and take a piece of my own advice. My new schedule/routine/motivation starts now! No excuses, no “I’m busy”s, no not-having-enough-time; I’m going to prioritise the things that mean something to me, and live the life I want and need to live. I’m going to make sure I have healthy foods in my fridge, I’m going to get to the gym every second day (at least), and I’m going to go for hikes and coffee dates by myself on the weekend. Yes I have less free time than at the start of 2019, but that’s not a good enough reason to not live it up in my free time.

Say an affirmation with me now:

“I have all the time I need.”

Say that to yourself every morning, and I guarantee you, you will find an extra hour or so. Time is there if you want it.

 

A Conversation With My 12-Year-Old Self

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. I’m twenty-three now & when I was twelve, that age seemed such a put-together kind of age. My romantic child-self would imagine myself to be married, buying a house, living as a successful woman.

How time deceives you when you’ve only lived 12 years on Earth.

Do I have any of these three things? Well, not exactly. Now and then, my mind repeats this conversation with my twelve-year-old self. I listen to it say, “What have you been doing all this time?!”. 2008-Me telling 2019-Me I should have found love, found a permanent home, found a job that pays more because I should have graduated University and have a frame on the wall. Cue mixed feels.

But, what does a twelve-year old know?

Nothing much, let’s be real. 

I used to let that child in my mind make me feel bad, but now I ignore the shit out of her. Yes, I want to find the love of my life, yes I would love to buy my own home, and create my own business, but shit – it all takes time.

So, aside from my killer achievements and experiences I’ve had in my life up until this point, what more am I going to do with this new age of twenty-three? Well, I decided in January, that this would be the year I got into the best shape of my life (follow #tonetheheckupin2019 on Instagram) – so far so good – and this year I am also planning my own business in the hopes to start it in 2020. The house thing I’ve decided will come after the business, and the whole love thing? — well, I’ve decided I’ll let that happen when it happens.

Society has this way of telling us what we should aspire to have or be, and by what age. Well, I’m here to tell you that the world is changing. We don’t have to follow the hill downwards – a marble subconsciously rolling – be a tree. Grow upwards, have branches that go in different directions. To have a perfectly beautiful tree, you have to have branches that grow in many ways until you can trim it into perfection.

So, if you find yourself also thinking you’re behind in the game; you’ve broken up with your significant other, you can’t afford the house, and you’re still working in retail – don’t be so hard on yourself. Success isn’t deemed only when you’re young, because twenty-three is young.

And, twelve? Well, twelve is baby.

Be a tree.

Long time, no see.

Hey there. Guess what, I am finally back from a few months of silence.

As you all know, in November last year, I moved to little old New Zealand and have been rather busy with settling into my new life. So, after that eerie period, I’m dusting away those cobwebs to write this piece.

It’s funny how you very quickly settle into a space you know so well. I grew up in New Zealand, in my small town aside the ocean, and to be reunited with it after 4 years came easier than expected. Before I left London, I always got the “it’ll hit you after a while, you’ll miss the hustle of London.” – well, I’m here to tell you, I don’t.

And honestly, I don’t miss it at all. I thought I would; miss the traffic, the busyness, the cafe ridden streets, the atmosphere, but I simply don’t. However, the one thing I do long for, is hangouts with my cosmopolitain friends; the work pals; I met some of the best people in the world in London; I just don’t long for the place itself.

This did come as a surprise to me. I expected myself to struggle with small town living at least for a little while, to regret ‘giving up’ (for better the word) London for a simpler way of life, but I’ve come to realise that New Zealand kinda suits me. I thrive on exercise, and fresh air, and devour outdoor spaces. I’ve caught up with old friends, explored new places, rediscovered my love for cooking and creativity, joined a band; the open space of New Zealand, has allowed me to fill it with more fulfilling activities. There’s something special about this country, and I cannot wait for my London-made friends to come and visit me, so I can show them too.

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It definitely takes leaving a place, to find the appreciation.

It’s cheesy, and the same sentence has probably been said in a million different ways, but it’s true. I left thinking I was too big for the small life, that New Zealand was boring and not good enough for the life I thought I desired. In reality I just didn’t know how to live yet.

I went to London and it was there I learnt how to live. I discovered myself through trials, tribulations, tears and smiles. And that person, this person I became, ended up craving a bigger space to breathe and grow. London suffocated me. It’s definitely a big city, but it’s also hugely populated. I listened to my body, and it was telling me I needed to move on – it’s funny how perfectly, gloriously, accurate your gut instincts can be. Researchers are discovering that microbes in our gut can send messages and important brain chemicals to our brain, affecting how we think, feel, and remember. Well, my theory is that so do your lungs. Breathe the air you should breathe, and you exhale happiness.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I just know that New Zealand air is my kind of air. I encourage you to find yours.