Ignite

I still find myself trying to figure out how a passion is ignited, how a mood is lightened, how a day is made, by such simple things. If you live in London, you would have realised that the last few days have been beyond beautiful – blue skies, windless parks, and sun that is above 15ºC and has actual heat to it.

It was Friday last week, and I was having a pretty good day. I blame this living in London thing, any hint of sun and my day becomes that much brighter (no joke intended). So, on this fine, Spring day I was walking through the park and I saw a man on a longboard and I wanted to instantly hurl in envy. The sunglasses, the cool hat, the effortless glide of wheels on pavement; I wanted that back. In NZ, my Dad makes longboards. In total he’s made a miniature cruiser, and three longboards varying in shape. Living on the beach, in a beautiful town built on coastal hills, a longboard was the coolest way to get around. Picture this: You’ve finished work and you’ve changed into your favourite loose shirt. You grab your headphones and your board, and with an upbeat song blasting in your headphones, you’re carving through the beach roads, with the setting sun glistening on perfectly blue waves with an island in the distance? … Picture perfect right? It makes me sort of homesick in a way because that part of coastal life is something to miss. This scene is also possibly one of the things I look forward to recreating most when I go home for a visit next year. It was that image, that perfect image, flashing through my mind in the park that made my blood curdle green. I almost bought one last summer, and seeing this skater made me realise I couldn’t go another summer without it. So with the word impatient in mind, I had a board purchased and paid for from my phone screen through squinting eyes within 10 minutes .

My board arrived three days later and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was tracking it on the map as it circled in on my street. I tore open the box, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t my Dad’s but it was damn near as special: a pinstripe, bamboo, 41″ pintail cruiser. I was stoked, I still am. The first chance of freedom, I was out there sailing the streets of London; the sun and Thames filling me with almost as much glee as boarding the coast in New Zealand did. I think even the simple thing of being on a board with a favourite song playing in my ears, is enough to ignite a genuine happiness within me. It’s just me, nobody else, I am in 100% control and totally free.

Ultimately I don’t know what the point of this blog is, but I wanted to share this simple thing that has made my last week so beautiful. As the days get longer, and as the sun shines brighter, I can’t wait to spend my second summer in London with friends and things that make me happy.

365 Days

This blog comes to you on a Thursday because today, the 28th January 2016, marks the one year anniversary of my move to London.

WP_20150114_005This time last year I was at Wellington Airport in New Zealand doing my best to put on a brave face and laugh off the pot of emotion that was my stomach. As the time till I had to board counted down, and as the gate call echoed throughout the airport, I was instantly overwhelmed. Even sitting here right now in one of my favourite cafes, I suddenly have a stomach full of butterflies just thinking about it. I got asked a lot before I left if I was excited; if I was nervous, but it wasn’t until that moment of having to go through security that my move became a reality; it completely sank in that within the hour I would be saying goodbye to my family, my friends, and my home of 18 years.994729_10208050194363073_7553208956738201222_n-2

There was a movie moment amongst the tears and hugs. My best-friend Hayley had been travelling around the South Island and her flight was due to arrive at the same time that my gate opened. It was getting nearer to having to go through security, and she still hadn’t arrived yet, but I insisted that I waited. My Mum was telling me that I would just have to go when I saw her at the opposite end of the waiting area – I dropped my bags and ran. As I ran, and as she ran towards me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. I was leaving my sister, closest friend, and a face that held memories from 5 years. No Spotify, now is not the time to play Yellow by Coldplay. Skip.

After saying the long awaited goodbye to Hayley, and finalising my farewell with hugs from my family, I walked away from the tearing faces behind me. I remember the lady at security looking at my red eyes and splotchy cheeks just talking at me because she knew if I went to speak I’d be an incontrollable mess. I think I was the only one in the waiting lounge in such a state. I put myself in the corner, crying my eyes out, attempting to drown out my thoughts with Cold Chisel playing deafeningly loud in my ears. Stepping on the plane I remember vividly telling myself repeatedly something my Dad repeated to me in the months leading up to my departure. It became my moving mantra, and it’s still something I tell myself often.

“There is no better feeling than getting on a plane and having no idea what is ahead of you.”

11891053_10207190203623842_8634745430585137083_nAs I travelled further away from New Zealand, and nearer to England, my sadness turned into impatient excitement; now that the hard part was over, I couldn’t wait to set foot in the city that would be my new home. I arrived at 12.30pm and I was out looking around the city until 10pm that night, with a grin so big I’m sure my parents could see it in NZ.

To think that this time last year I knew nothing about London, yet now I could give you directions to most places – bus numbers included.

365 days ago my home was New Zealand.

365 days ago I arrived in London and while wearing 5 layers I still went about silently complaining about how cold I was.

365 days ago I was terrified of stepping inside an Underground.  I had the biggest fear of going the wrong way. Even after staring at the directional signs – for what seemed like minutes on end – I convinced myself I would end up on the opposite side of London. I was scared of buses even more so; I didn’t use a bus until about my third month here.

365 days ago I knew no one in London. Today I am surrounded by people I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am to have. 365 days ago these people were strangers, today they’re amongst the most important people in my life.

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365 days ago I’d only dreamt of seeing places like Big Ben and the London Eye – now they’re on my doorstep. Not only have I seen these iconic places, I’ve been to Wales, road tripped around the south of England 11138083_878059408906967_4155009662216348277_nand visited Barcelona. I’m going to Rome in 3 days, and in June this year I’m going to Santorini; I’m sure there will be more too. Amongst my friends I’ve also been labelled the documenter/the photographer/the Instagram-er; what can I say? Memories are beautiful, but photos can often say so much more.

365 days ago I moved to London because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Sometimes you need to look at your life from a different perspective – what a better way than from the other side of the world? Today, I am a person with my passions rediscovered. I start university in 4 days studying something I love so much it feels like leisure. Not to mention I live in Europe, talk about opportunity.

365 days ago I was unsure of my purpose, who I was, and where I wanted to be in the years to come. This last year has been a year of realising what I love, who I want to surround myself with, and adventuring outside my comfort zone and beyond. Moving to London has been a scary but invigorating experience that has allowed me to grow in many ways.

365 days later, I live in London, my new home, and this has been the best year of my life (so far).

Thank you to everyone who has made this year so special. I love every single one of you. Thank you to my parents who have always encouraged me to live for myself.

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Lots of love, Kiwi Girl x

…living in London.

 

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

The Motion of Graphs

I haven’t always been a confident person, and I most definitely have days where my usual confident structure breaks away from itself. Quite often I try and analyse what confidence truly is, and why this complex demeanour fluctuates.

Confidence is technically described as:

“A feeling that is due to self-belief and acknowledgement of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

This word acknowledgement, at the heart of this definition, is what interests me the most about confidence. Throughout a discussion with a good friend (Instagram: simon_walsh14), an extremely interesting point was unearthed. I would like to share and discuss this. Confidence, as much as it is within oneself, is due to, and in majority because of, external stimuli. Therefore this acknowledgement may not necessarily be your own, but someone else’s acknowledging of your talents or exterior that creates confidence within yourself.

All individuals, admittedly or not, appreciate compliments as these are the words that assure us most; assure us that we are strong enough, good enough, beautiful or handsome enough; these structured words allow us to keep moving, and delay us from having time to descend and self-doubt.

After this new aspect of confidence was introduced to my already over-analysing brain, I was bemused at how Simon’s external stimuli opinion resonated within me. I always thought it was about self-belief and that you just have to accept and believe in who you are – this is definitely a part, but how can we do this without assurance from someone else. If we are the only ones convincing ourselves we’re strong enough, soon enough we say it to ourselves even when we are vulnerably weak. This self-belief and confidence then has the opportunity to radically weaken to self-doubt, self-doubt to anxiety.

Explaining how confidence turns to self-doubt and anxiety is hard to explain in precise detail. I have, however, experienced this feeling, so the easiest way to put this to word is to use an example from my life. Try and picture my words in the form of a graph on a page. The last 500 days of my life going horizontal, and the three notches going upward on the y-axis being anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. As my London dream began with saving and planning; I began midway somewhere near the level of self-doubt:

 ‘Will I be able to save in time?’, ‘Will I really go through with this?’ 

As the line progresses horizontally it also slowly begins to peak vertically towards the level of confidence; this came with the physical growth of sterling but also the kind words of commendation and encouragement from family and friends. These external stimuli pushed the line to level out for several months. These months were easy, I was so confident within myself and had sureness in my plan to move alone. Then the news of my departure became old amongst my family and friends, it became accepted that I was leaving, so discussions lessened. Negative and doubtful comments stopped my ability to move away from this doubt. Small, unintentional things people said – people doubting the extent of my planning or the level of accumulated savings – all made that line waver around self-doubt. The lack of encouragement and assuredness then caused my brain to self-doubt: forcing the line to descend. I was too ashamed to discuss these feelings with family and friends because I wanted to still appear like the brave being everyone described me as. This absence of conversation then allowed my brain to plummet towards anxiety. I began to have this gut-wrenching fear of failing. As the timeline sped on, the time until I was to leave New Zealand diminished in front of me. Conversations increased with the hype of 18-year old Paige leaving friends and family for a foreign place. This resulted in a vertically increased line levelled midway between self-doubt and confidence. I had assurance in my abilities but I still lacked complete confidence of success.  From those days, to now, my line of confidence has continued to fluctuate.

My line will continue on in that fluctuating motion. So will yours. Such is life.

Reading this blog you may think I’m trying to say that confidence is solely reliant on external compliments, but it most definitely is not. This external stimuli fact is purely a minuscule part of what makes our brains tick. Confidence comes from a range of things – from validation, self-acceptance for who we are, remaining mindful, grounded and humble, amid others. These are the things that increase or decrease our levels of confidence.

So think before you speak, you’re making a bigger impact than you might think.

Thoughts

emotion

plural noun: emotions

  1.   a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others

Emotions are triggered by thoughts.

Thoughts are triggered by an external factor.

These external factors can also be linked to memories.

It’s interesting how you can be going about your day, and soon as you inhale a single smell, you can get taken back to a precise time of your life. A time which up until that point had been stored in the mass memory hard drive of your brain, covered in blankets of more new, more fresh memories.

I was baking yesterday, making a biscuit recipe I have eaten since before I was able to remember tastes and smells; making a biscuit my mother taught me how to make, and probably one I’ll pass on myself. I was following the recipe until my hands took over and knew exactly what to do; from the countless times of making them over the years and years prior to this point.

When I was in high school – old enough to have responsibilities, not quite old enough to be hired by anyone other than my parents – I used to do ‘Sunday Baking’. This involved baking enough batches of cookies, and any other baking I was happy to do, for the next weeks school lunches. (At a price of course, because let’s not fool anyone, kids are greedy beings.) I probably did this baking for at least a year, maybe less, maybe more, and I can remember so many arguments, funny memories, and stupid mistakes from doing so. Yesterday these memories came flooding back.

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One time I used salt instead of sugar – needless to say we gently placed that batch in the bin.

Almost every time my older brother would steal the equivalent of about 10 cookies worth of cookie dough.

Sometimes being the stroppy teenager I was,  I would scream and yell that I wasn’t doing it any more and that I ‘quit’.

I would then come crawling back, because I needed the allowance.

I would have days of Mum or Dad volunteering to help, the best thing ever especially when I could delegate the job of rolling the dough into balls.

Other times when I would put my music on loud, dance around, happy as can be, I would end up baking enough to feed my greedy brothers for the next week and extras for the freezer.

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Yesterday as I was baking, I was overcome with happiness and sadness. These emotions were triggered by the all of these memories. Simply by the smell and taste of the cookie dough. It’s funny how a simple thing can make you think of a time; make you remember so many memories; reminding you to be thankful for everything you have had the privilege of experiencing.

Baking is just so much more than baking. It’s like a memory box within itself.

So is everything else in life.