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.

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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.

3 Easy Veggies For The Wannabe Vegan

Hey there, and welcome to this fine Tuesday lunchtime!

Today’s blog is all about helping out those wannabe vegans, or hungry people, that are craving some veggie goodness. As a new vegan I know how difficult it is to feel committed, when you’re constantly trying to be one of those creative vegans that you see on Instagram. In reality going vegan, or eating plant-based, is simple, affordable and does not have to be complicated. I have been delving in the vegan lifestyle for almost two years, so I can tell you that once you find a base for all your meals, it becomes a lot easier.

So, this is what today’s blog is all bout. My three go-to vegetables, and how I cook them. I eat these vegetables either individually, or all together, almost everyday.

Lets get cooking. 

You will need:

  • 1 Broccoli
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 500g mushrooms of your choice
  • Tamari Sauce
  • Black Pepper & [Pink Himalayan] Salt
  • Garlic Salt (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Hummus/Cashews/ toppings of choice

The Sweet Potato

Preheat your oven to 200*C. Put a steamer filled with an inch of water, on the stove top to boil.

Peel and wash one sweet potato, chopping into small pieces. 

On a tray, prepared with a 1Tbsp Olive Oil, season the sweet potato with black pepper, salt and garlic salt. Don’t be afraid to use your hands in this step, the more the seasoning covers the potato, the tastier it is!

Once this is done, pop it into the heating oven. Cook until soft and browned at the edges. If it goes black, they’re not burnt, it’s the natural sugars in the sweet potato caramelising.

The Mushrooms 

Preheat your pan on medium heat, with a 1tsp Olive Oil.

Wash your mushrooms under running water.

Chop into slices, and place into the now-heated pan.

Season with black pepper and salt.

Once it starts to brown, add 1 Tbsp of Tamari Sauce, and a dash of water.

Cook until the mushrooms have absorbed the sauce, and are soft and cooked.

The Broccoli

Wash your broccoli under running water.

Chop your broccoli into larger florets and place into your steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, place in a pot with a cm of boiling water.

This step is to only soften the broccoli so it’s barely cooked. It’ll go a slightly deeper green.

The Assemble

Use these veggies as bases for other meals, or combine for a filling and healthy lunch. They are whole foods, simply cooked, yet taste delicious. Top with cashews, or hummus, and enjoy!

THE HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • Sweet potatoes are naturally high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and manganese.
    • Manganese is good for healthy bones, sugar regulation, PMS symptoms.
  • Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fibre and potassium.
  • Mushrooms are definitely underrated; even though they’re bland in colour, they have many powerful antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms are an excellent source of fibre and protein, iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and selenium.
    • Selenium is a trace element which supports the immune system; detoxifies elements of the body which can cause ageing, cancers, etc.
      • Selenium is also found in Brazil nuts, you would only need to eat 2 Brazil nuts to get your daily dose of Selenium. With the added bonus of the Omega-3 fatty acid also found in the nut.
  • Broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate and fibre.
    • Vitamin K aids your body in calcium absorption.
  • Buying and eating any of these veggies grown in an Organic way increases flavour, and decreases your chances of consuming nasty pesticides sprayed on the vegetables to prolong shelf life.

Learning about the foods I put in my body is one way that has helped me go, and stay, vegan. Knowledge is powerful, but in my case knowledge is passion. Going vegan isn’t about being preachy, or trendy, it’s about realising how our bodies run better on whole foods from the earth.

There are many other ways I have stayed vegan; animal rights, environmental and economical. I’ll leave a list of my favourite vegan resources down below if you are thinking about making the change to a plant-based diet.

“Why am I vegan? Because I want my refrigerator to look like a garden… not a morgue.”

Happy eating! And don’t forget to drink that water, don’t even get me started on the health benefits of that.

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Documentaries, speeches & books I recommend:

‘The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear’ – performed by Gary Yourofsky

‘The China Study’ – written by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell

‘Forks Over Knives’ – a documentary

‘Food Choices’ – a documentary

‘Cowspiracy’ – a documentary

‘Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat’ – written by Glen Merzer and Howard Lyman

Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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Fake It Till You Make It | The Self Series

Have you ever had a day when you’ve been moody, and someone has said “fake it till you make it”..?

I was thinking about this the other day, and not because someone said it to me, but because it has been so drilled into my head that I’ve started saying it to myself. So here it is, the latest instalment in The Self Series – all my tips for faking it till you make it.

Blast the happy tunes 

This is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down, but studies have shown that your mood is likely to improve if you actively try and feel happy whilst listening to upbeat tunes. So, next time you’re feeling down,  put on something slightly upbeat, light some candles, flick on some fairy lights and make an effort to make it a vibrant space. Before you know it, you’ll at least be tapping your toes.

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Dress for the mood you wish to be in

How we present ourselves plays a big part in how we are perceived – not only by others, but through our own eyes. For example, if you wake up and you’re in a mood of ‘I just can’t be bothered today’, by putting no effort into your appearance, you will only feel worse about yourself. So, when you have days like this, try and make a point of showering, putting on your favourite items of clothes, and doing something with your day. You don’t have to go to-the-nines, but at the very least wander out and grab a coffee.

Use your clothes as your voice of energy, instead of actually trying to act all energetic. It’ll do your mood wonders.

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Pose it up

My main man, Aristotle, had an idea that has stuck with me since I studied him in uni:

To be virtuous, one must act as a virtuous person would act.

So, to be a confident happy person, surely we must act how a confident happy person would act – right? So, next time you feel like crawling into a little ball of self-pity, strike a pose in which you deem as confidence and competence, and your physical might just alter your mental.

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Remember we are the only thing that stands in the way of our mood improving. So, next time you’re having a substandard day, or you’re struck into a bad mood, try one of my three top tips for faking it (till you make it). And don’t worry, I’m still trying to perfect the art.

Stay confident, stay happy.

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My Experience With Writer’s Block

Writer’s block was never something I gave much thought to.

I tossed the word around after a few days of less-than-desirable pen to paper action. However, it wasn’t until I realised that I was experiencing writer’s block for real – in it’s full force, a period of over a few weeks – that I gave the title some credit.

By definition, writer’s block is…

“the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.”

And in my reality, it was exactly that… and more. I was battling with a pensive sadness because I wasn’t writing. So, after being unable to write for weeks on end, I sat (and if I’m completely honest I sulked whilst doing so) and I thought about how I could figure this out; it wasn’t as if my passion for writing had just disappeared over night… right? In  an attempt to find the answer I listened to myself, and the energy around me, and the verdict was that every fibre of my being was crying out for me to show it something new.

So I did. And here I am, sitting in a café in Bath, Somerset.

The first day of my three days away, I sought out Bath Abbey because when I travel I enjoy historic elements – I’m a true tourist when I wanna be. But what I didn’t purposely seek out was the Square at the back of the gorgeous building. Within this square, a square surrounded by benches, was a man. He was centred and in solitude – only a guitar to keep him company. He was playing beautiful Spanish music and after my trip to Spain, where Spanish buskers brought joy to my ears every path I went down, I felt no choice but to sit and listen. I sat for two hours in the chilled sunshine, wearing my favourite sweater and a smile upon my face. What did I do while I listened? I observed those around me, and saw all the unique faces as potential characters and sentences.  And, as if the music went in my ears and broke down the writer’s block my brain, I exploded with ideas. It was as if I had had an epiphany. I whipped out my notebook with a dramatic flair – that belonged in a film – and I wrote. I wrote poems, a short story, and I had the biggest break – creatively speaking – for my book.

Finally.

After three weeks of not even adding a teeny tiny apostrophe to my book, I was now thinking too fast for my hand to keep up. And now, barely 48 hours after sitting in that square, I’m still writing. I’ve added 4 new chapters to my book and altered the narrative perspective of a quarter of what I’d already written. It has been a lot of work, but I’ve enjoyed every second. (Especially since I had an excellent excuse to seek out cute coffee shops and drink coffee for hours on end).

So, what was writer’s block for me? It was frustration, mood-swings and a sorrowness I couldn’t figure out; like being a passionate skater, and then waking up one day without a clue as to why you can’t stay on the board for more than a second.

And how did I diminish my writer’s block? I removed myself from the normal routine of my London life, to give my brain new faces to characterise and new places to think about. Every one of us will get our own form of writer’s block (for our select passions) if we don’t stimulate our minds. We need to get out more and work our brains.

My brain stopped giving me what I wanted, because I stopped giving it something to really think about.

I won’t do that again.

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