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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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.

 

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.

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Dear Reader,

Welcome to another blog of mine. If you’re a returning reader, I apologise for my absence – my brain hasn’t exactly been clear lately. If you’re new, well you’ve come along at an interesting crossroad. It’s a lot of words, and I’ve written and re-written this many times, so I’m deciding to just post it in it’s current state. Here ya go…

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Today’s blog is brought to you by a big decision I made a few weeks ago, and one I’ve had difficulty making for over a year: leaving London. I moved to London when I was eighteen, and ready for an adventure of self-discovery and risks. The last few years have been nothing short of that; I’ve met people who will stay friends for the remainder of my life, I’ve explored cultures, cities & countries, whilst furthered myself through skill and awareness. I know I know, all of the classic & cliché things, but it’s true and I am not lying when I say this city has changed me as a person for the better.

I love London, and it is one of the best places to live in the world – I say that wholeheartedly – however, London is not an easy place to live. It’s a city where unless you are lucky enough to find a job which douses your bank account, it can be very much a situation of living pay check to pay check. It’s a city of competition, and entitlement. It’s fast-paced, and unless you can keep up with it, you can feel left behind.

I wasn’t one of these ‘unlucky’ ones; I like to think I have thrived here. And this isn’t in a “look at me” way, it’s in a way of pride. I got a good job, I worked hard and in result got promoted twice. I now have incredible friends who have given my life excitement and memories of a lifetime. I improved my living situation with every move. All of this, and having never worried about money, makes me proud of myself and everything I have achieved here.

So, if all was going well, what changed my mind about living here?

Well, if I’m completely honest, I became unhappy. Ultimately this is what I wanted to get down in this blog. This website has followed my entire London journey (my very first blog being about my first day here), through the ups and downs, and this process doesn’t stop with my decision to leave.

There was never one thing which caused the unhappiness, but I knew in my heart of hearts, there was something wrong. It stuck around, constantly underneath the sporadic smiles and dance parties, never really going away. It was a feeling I don’t want to label, because it’s not about that it, but it was a feeling of lostness. I felt alone, whilst surrounded by a city of 8 million, I felt unsupported from all angles in my life, I felt heavy and held down. It is important to understand that this isn’t directed at anyone, because I truly believe it was my body telling me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and not the byproduct of something in my life.

It is a scary thing to realise your “home” has detrimental effects on your mental state.

From the moment I set foot on English soil, I’ve been announcing to the world I would never leave – London was my new home. I absolutely wasn’t about to be one of those people who came to the UK, or Europe, for 6 months only to give up and go back to the little ol’ home town. I think this is partly why I’ve struggled so much the last several months, because for years I’ve been subconsciously telling myself I would be a failure if I even considered moving home. Insert another lovely feeling: of being trapped.

I started making plans to rid this unhappiness; plans to make changes to my work situation, my living situation; I had decided I was going to convert a Sprinter van and join the #VanLife movement. I was going to travel Europe whilst writing, combining two of my favourite things. I was convinced that my life was just missing some freedom. I became excited, I started telling people and I was happy because people were excited about the idea. I thought “Yes, this is the answer”.

A week passed, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach started crawling back up to my throat. Back to square one. I knew deep down this wasn’t the solution.

Then some suggested an idea that I couldn’t shake. Moving home. I sat on it, and after a week it still felt like it may be a good idea. After two weeks, I had my flight booked, my resignation submitted, and I felt like a weight had been lifted. It was the first time in months I could wake up and not feel heavy.

Since making this decision, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been an emotional adventure coming to terms with leaving this life behind. But after a chat with one of my best-friends I have been reminded this isn’t leaving anything behind, and moving to New Zealand isn’t a step backwards towards my old life, it’s a step forward. It’s simply change; a new chapter.

I will not say ‘I am moving back’, because that implies I’m going backwards. This is me going forward, this is a new chapter in my life. 

London has been a love affair, and it’s something I don’t want to ruin. I’m leaving at a time that is right for me, and for my writing, and I’m excited about that. Being a creative in London is also something I wanted to discuss. You can feel like you’re failing yourself and your art if you take time off from it. London adds this pressure, and it’s hard to ignore. Acting, writing, dancing, singing – if it’s your passion – shouldn’t be pressured, and/or done for the sake of trying to keep up to be successful.

I’m excited to go to New Zealand and find new inspirations in my writing, to further my life, to build a future, to be surrounded by family, to enjoy the things that I love – the ocean, nature, the quiet and calm, living a more organic lifestyle.

My goal now? To enjoy every second I have being based in London. I am creating a project called #100WaysToSayGoodbye – the last 100 days, every day with something new, simple, weird or exciting.

I apologise because this blog is less for you, and more for me, with lots (and lots) of words. But if you’ve read to the end, I guess throughout this decision to move home I’ve learnt the importance of putting myself, and my health, first. Even though I still can’t understand why I feel London isn’t right for me anymore, I’ve listened to myself and I know this is the right thing to do.

I will miss you London, I will miss you my London friends, but I am happy because I know I will see you again.

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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

Three Ways To Get Enthusiastic About Work

It’s something we all struggle with at some point – a lack of enthusiasm to work the ‘nine to five’. Doesn’t matter how much we love the job, sometimes the happy vibes are nowhere to be found.

So that brings us to today’s blog, three ways to get enthusiastic about work.


1. | Why do you work?

This may seem like a silly question, but think about it for a second. Why do you work where you do?  Does it allow you to live a certain way in a particular area? Does it pay well? Is it your passion? (If it is, not sure why you’d be reading this, but whatever) OR do you work because it allows you to live out your passion when you’re not working?

More often than not, when you’re in your early twenties – like me – where you’re working isn’t usually your dream job, but you’re doing it to support something else. I work, to allow myself to live in London which in turn gives me opportunities to further my writing career.

So, figure out the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, and remind yourself of it every time you have to clock into a shift.

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2. | Make the most of your free time

Other than seeing work as a means to an end, another way we can find enthusiasm to work is by not living and breathing the work place. Ever have a week where it feels like all you’ve done is eat, sleep, and work? Yeah, well me too. And it sucks! We all want to feel like we have life outside of work rotas and uniforms.

So piece of advice numéro deux? MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE TIME. Book those events you want to attend, go for that audition, or simply… leave the damned house! Even if it means you go sit in a café and sip on a soya latte whilst reading a magazine, do it! Or if you work the ‘nine to five’, drop the whole “I’m tired act” and invite your friends over for a bottle of wine; go to the cinema. Make sure you’re spending your money on things other than the commute to work, and the bills. We earn money to live, not to follow the same old routine day in and day out. Spend your free time, fulfilling your passons; do what you love!

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3. | ‘Be the energy you want to attract’

We have to work, that’s the reality of it. I’m not here to tell you how to get out of working, because if you want to lead an exciting life, chances are you’ll need money for it. HOWEVER, HOW you work is a whole other ball game. I read a quote the other week which literally changed my perspective on work attitude like that *insert finger snap*.

“Be the energy you want to attract”.

My third and final way to get enthusiastic about work is to look at energy with a different perspective. Depending on where you work you have no idea who you’re serving, or working with.

Imagine this, you could be an aspiring actor, and one day you’re chatting up a storm to this guy, and you’re all passionate and excitable, then turns out hes a director at the National Theatre and ba-da-bing, you have a foot in the door. Conquer from within, and be the energy you want to attract. See work as another platform to further yourself, because it will be if you say it is.

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Screenshot the quotes, save them as your screen savers or lock screens; remind yourself of them everyday.

Only you stand in your way.

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Friends in the city & saying goodbye

There’s something so unique about living in a city like this one. London is huge, it’s a place where people from all over the world interconnect and flourish. I’ve been in London for almost 3 years and whilst being here, I’ve made many friends and have had to say goodbye to almost all of them.

I wanted to write a blog about this. Making friends in a city and saying goodbye. I do often ask myself why I get so upset – saying goodbye to friends, tears streaming down my face, internally asking myself why are you like this?!. Asking why my body involuntarily gets so worked up about saying goodbye to people, when I knew I would have to say goodbye to them eventually. It’s a city of adventurous and aspiring people after all.

I sat and I really thought about.

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When you move out of home, or across the world like me, the friends you make become your family. Your friends become the support network that is there when you’re crying out of stress, or crying because you can’t stop laughing. They’re there when you’ve got exciting news you want to share, they’re there dancing alongside you at gigs, they’re there when you just want someone to join you for a coffee. So naturally, losing these people, this support network, is never going to be easy.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

A city life promotes a different type of friendship, well certainly different to the friendships I ever had in New Zealand. The friends I make tend to live a short distance away, and this is what I love most. The making of spontaneous plans, popping around to see a friend, meeting for lunch or coffee, even just having a drink at the pub after work together. London is all about the sociable life. So when this lifestyle changes, such as a friend leaving, it’s hard to feel okay about it – because one small difference can affect your daily life so much. We don’t tend to deal with unwanted change too well, and we do become sad. We all do. I’ve had my closest friends fly home, and I have had my closest of English friends move out of London – it’s the same, and in my head it’s the drama of the century.  I enjoy having my closest friends …well, close.

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I moved to London on my own.

I was an 18 year old from New Zealand, who arrived and knew absolutely nobody. To be quite honest with you, the first few nights in London, I was terrified. Terrified that nobody would like me, and terrified that I would make no friends. And then I moved into my first flat. I arrived as the outsider, and by the end of the first week, I was out celebrating my 19th birthday surrounded by people. Now, all of those people I met in my first months, I would be lucky to see anyone of them once a year. It was a gradual thing – I moved flat, made new friends, my old friends moved, I moved flat again, made new friends, so on, so on. It became an expectation to say goodbye, or at least ‘see you later’.

The knowledge of my own need for progression, allowed me to accept saying goodbye to others. Half the time, as I’m standing there with tears streaming down my cheeks as I say goodbye, I am happy; I am excited for my friends to move on to greater adventures. I’ve been that person my whole life, and I know that feeling of having to move on. We all live our lives with the aspiration of progress, and we all have to be selfish sometimes.


I was at the top of St. Paul’s with a friend one day. We were looking down at the thousands of people below us, and then, he said:

“Isn’t it amazing how amongst all those people, with different lives and different stories, we meet people with similar interests and form friendships.”

Yes, it is amazing. Making friends in a city of 8 million people may seem like a given, but it’s not as easy as that. Everything happens for a reason, and people come into our lives as we need them. Even though saying goodbye is hard, the most important thing to remember is that life will always endure a bit of mileage.

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A Clean Space, A Clean Mind | The Self Series

 

Welcome back to another episode in The Self Series. This month I moved house, finding myself reminded of how much stuff I actually own. My old bedroom had a lot of nooks and crannies, and whilst emptying those out I discovered an utmost desire to de-clutter and rid my belongings of everything unnecessary. Today’s blog is going to be all about doing exactly that, and is bought to you by a quote of Eleanor Brownn:

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”

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No. 1 | Items we have, but don’t need

We all have things we don’t need; crap we’ve bought, gimmicks we’ve fallen for, or simply outgrown items. I am not here to tell you what you don’t need, because this varies person to person.

Here are a few areas I’ve been able to revamp and tidy:

  1. My desk storage and surrounding areas were infested with old university text books, papers, payslips and bills. I recycled everything I hadn’t looked at in a few months, and to prevent the pile up from happening again – switched over to paperless, meaning I now get majority of important documents via email. AND now I have an amazingly clear work space.
  2. The top of my wardrobe had the biggest collection of old birthday cards and old concert tickets. I think I’m like most people when I say I find it hard to throw these types of things away – but do not fear! I have a tip for you…
    • Take photos of them and/or scan them into your computer. They’re only gonna get bent and fade over time, so keep them in tip-top form in a computer folder. 
  3. I also found a lot of trinkets, unused frames, and travel bags amongst other unused home goods. Things like this – which someone else could use – I donated to local charity shops.

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No. 2 | Double is trouble

Humans, majority of us are overly materialistic. I remember that back in high school, I became quite obsessed with make-up and so began the notorious – more than one drawer fill – make-up hoard of 2012. Considering one can only wear so much at any time, it’s easy to say I had too much make-up. Fast forward to August 2017 and my make-up collection consists of 10 items: 1 foundation, 1 eyebrow kit, 1 eyeliner, 1 primer, 1 mascara, 1 eyeshadow palette, 1 powder, and 3 lipsticks. It has taken 5 years, but I perfected the Paige make-up necessities. I have no double-ups, and I only buy items that work for my skin tone and that I genuinely will make use of.

This minimal approach to my beauty routine continues with my moisturiser and shower items.  I encourage you to find one of every required item; e.g. find a moisturiser which you and your skin loves, and stick to only owning one type and then replace when empty. It will keep your space tidy and, especially when it comes to your skin, the less products the better.

No. 3 | The concept of a minimal wardrobe

The dreaded closet clear out. We amp ourselves up for it but when it comes around to the big event, we find it more difficult to discard those items of clothes than originally thought. So I’m not going to tell you to go to your closet and pick only 10 things to keep, I’m going to ask you one question.

Do you think that having more choice leads to less stress and/or promotes happiness?

Think about it for a minute.

Now imagine having 10 of your favourite items of clothing; 10 items spaciously hanging before you. All 10 items you love equally, and fit you perfectly. Knowing that no matter what you pick, you’re gonna feel comfortable. Now imagine having a closet stuffed with clothes; your wardrobe doors don’t shut, the shelving stuffed with sweaters and shirts you can’t manage to fold because no matter how much you try, there’s just no space. Trying to find an outfit within that? Ugh, no, thank you very much.

We should love what we wear. Not only is owning an excessive amount of clothes an unnecessary waste of space and money, it’s cluttering for our brains. So try and limit your belongings, keep pieces you love, and wear them as much as possible. Mix and match, and you’ll soon realise what a select wardrobe with staple items can do for you. Washing machines exist for a reason, and if you’re worried that someone is going to judge you for wearing the same item of clothing in one week? Well, who really cares?

No. 4 | Relationship cleanse

Detoxifying your life doesn’t just refer to things you can hold, de-cluttering our minds also plays a huge part in feeling calmingly free. Relationships which aren’t based on complete honesty can be soul-defying. This might sound dramatic, but sometimes we don’t even realise that a relationship is bad for our overall happiness; we can get so caught up in wanting to be accepted by a peer that it becomes normal to be someone we’re not. If a relationship you have, romantically or friendly, takes energy away from you, take a minute to seriously analyse what you’re gaining from it. And question whether it is worth wasting energy on.

I went through this process quite young. I rid my life of bullies labeled as friends, and my accepting of “loving” insults. I found myself feeling more self-empowered when I began filtering those I accepted into my life. Since doing this, I have found friends who genuinely know everything there is to know. To think that some people have ‘friends’ or even families who don’t know their deepest worries does sadden me. You’re missing out on so much when you don’t share.

No. 5 | The exceptions

I would be a hypocrite and a liar if I said you will never be happy without minimalism. I for one find great happiness and relaxation out of books. And lots of them.

“Simply put, I love books, physical books. I own so many – many of which I have not read (yet). I just need to have them. On shelves. In piles. In random conference tote bags. Paper magazines and newspapers too. Some call it clutter. I call it cozy.” ― Donna Talarico

Thank you Donna for not making me feel like a crazy book hoarder. I needn’t say much more on this topic, except don’t get rid of things which comfort you just for the idea of de-cluttering. De-clutter in areas of your life which only bring stress. As a rule of thumb, if you’re avoiding an area of your life/house, it probably requires some work. Don’t be afraid to dedicate a room in your house to your books, a wall for a floor-to-ceiling art display.

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I hope you can all take something away from this blog. I am going to continue  organising, minimising and de-cluttering my life. A clean space really does help with a clean mind. Refine your life, think more clearly and support your better self.

Aid your aspirations.

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Liberty

As we grow and age, our sense of freedom also changes. I’ve always been one to be self-righteous about freedom. I know most of us are, but I remember from a  young age always demanding the freedom to go to the shopping mall with my friends, demanding my parents to just let me do what I want, demanding that I go where I want. Rightly so my parents were strict on discipline and for me as a teenager, freedom wasn’t a right, it was a privilege.

When I was 13 or 14, I decided I wanted a job. Not legally old enough to be hired in New Zealand, I volunteered at my local library. For me, not only was this a chance to prove responsibility with shifts and everything else that came with the job, it felt like a step closer to freedom. I wanted to feel like an adult and a job seemed to come hand in hand with that idea in my head – funny how a badge with my name on it felt like liberty. As I neared 15, I got a job delivering papers in my local area. Suddenly I had an income on my very own bank card and a whole lot more freedom. In the grand scheme of things I was earning cents, but as a young teenager earning my own money – that wasn’t originally my parents – was invigorating. It was at that ripe age of 14, and about a month before my 15th birthday, I bought myself a scooter; freedom in the form of a 50cc engine, bright yellow. To be fair I bought it second hand, and my Dad did a fair bit of fixing it up, but it was the next step up the staircase of liberty.

The day after turning 15, and months after learning the NZ road code start to finish, I got my drivers license. I was 15, and suddenly my definition of freedom changed. From being dropped of at the mall by my Mum for a few hours, to being able to drive anywhere on 50km/h roads. There were of course curfews, and countless safety lectures, but I could drive myself to school, and as I got better paying part-time jobs, to those too. I was able to help my Mum when she was in need of a few things from the supermarket. Having a bucket on the back of my scooter, I volunteered and went up. I may have only been able to carry 2L of milk, and a broccoli, but I’ll tell you I was stoked. The most memorable thing about getting my scooter was filling up my scooter for the first time.  I remember driving out of that petrol station, singing to the pedestrians I passed, grinning my face off behind my Dad’s motorbike helmet – I perfectly remember how liberated I felt in that moment.

Fast forward to a year later, and I passed my restricted license test – I could now not only drive a scooter alone, I could drive a car by myself. No parents, a speaker system (!!!) and the ability to conquer my Mum’s entire shopping lists if need be. I know shopping seems like a weird thing for a 16 year old to be excited about, but to be able to do that for Mum seemed like the ultimate privilege of freedom. Plus, if I got to use Mum’s car I could play the music as loud as I wanted. I never had my own car officially, but when my Dad bought a convertible Peugeot… well, well, well… imagine this: a 17 year old, a red convertible, driving along the coast in the middle of summer, sea sparkling in the wing mirror, stereo blasting Twenty One Pilots. Oh how I miss that car. If someone were to ask me about freedom, that memory would come to mind – so would a smile.

Fast forward to now, and my sense of freedom is somehow less perceptible. This is my third year living in London and away from home, and I do have endless freedom. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, yet somehow it doesn’t feel that way. I used to find liberty in the simple things – walking my dog alone, solo adventures to the beach, staying out after dark, and now I find it harder to get that same thrill. And no, going to Sainsbury’s to get groceries no longer makes me sing. I’ve been decently poorly the last week and I’ve had more than enough time to mull this thought over. I’m 21 now, and everything considered I am officially an adult anywhere in the world. International freedom but when do I feel the most liberated? I feel free when I’m writing. I can play with words limitlessly and I can lose myself in any creative world I choose. I feel free when I travel; away from the bills and responsibilities, I can lose myself in the new sights. I live for experiences and to travel is to self-liberate. Without thinking too much about the words I just used, looking back I’ve used the term “lose myself” in both cases. Is this really true? Am I using this in a negative way? No, I don’t think so. After a bit of thought, I think losing myself is a good thing; I stop stressing, I stop over-thinking and immerse myself in the now.

For me, living in the moment is the true key to liberty.

 

730 days and a message for the future migrant

730 days and 730 nights have passed since I boarded the plane to London. Rather than repeating the summaries, the messages of gratitude, and the goals of the coming years, I wanted this blog to be slightly different. I wanted to write a blog which covers some of the lessons I’ve learnt whilst living abroad.

For those without English blood, a visa typically ends after two years. I, however, am lucky enough to have English ancestry and the right to stay longer – just the thought of being kicked out is scary, I have so much more I want to do. This is the case for a lot of antipodeans who travel abroad, right as they finally settle their lives and meet friends for life, it’s ripped out from underfoot.

For those who are hoping to migrate to the UK, or anywhere else in the world, I don’t want that thought to put you off. Moving to London was the best decision I ever made, and even if I only had the past two years, I would still stand by my choice to move. Remember that in life it is very much the same, you can’t not do something because you know it will end. Live in the moment and live for yourself.

If you’re reading this and considering an international move, here are some things I’ve learnt, and some quotes that have found accuracy within my life.

  1. Don’t feel fear in leaving things behind, because if it’s meant to be in your life, said thing will find a way no matter where you are.
  2. Age is but a number. At high school I had a very small, select group of friends; people I’d grown up with, either from an early age or the earlier years of college. We had birthdays within months of each other, and that was that. Once I moved to London, I began meeting people and making friendships based on conversation, laughter, and personality. In a lot of these cases, it wasn’t until we had hung out several times that the age difference came out. In some cases the age gap nears 10 years but they are absolute true friends – I’ve shared some of the best days of my life with these people.
  3. “Everything works out in the end”, “Everything happens for a reason”. These are two quotes that I’m sure many people will think are cheesy, or absolute nonsense. I’m here to tell you, I wholeheartedly believe in these simple sentences.  Enough said.
  4. “What’s the worse that can happen?”. When you find yourself in what you believe to be the ‘worst of the worse’ situations, ask yourself this question. If you get fired, something you own gets stolen, you made a fool of yourself at the staff party (believe me I’ve been there), what is the worse that can happen? You find a new job, you earn money to replace it, you strut into work the next day owning that glorious hangover glam. It’s never as bad as it seems. Never forget that.
  5. Technology makes the earth smaller. With modern society comes FaceTime, Instagram, Facebook and all of the other wonderful social mediums. A lot of people believe these sites to be detrimental to our social lives – pulling us away from real interactions – but in reality, for the modern day migrant, the internet closes the international gap. FaceTime has made my move a breeze, because of it I’ve been able to talk to my parents in an instant. Don’t get me started on Instagram, I love that shit.
  6. Save, save, save. If you decide to move to a city, such as London like myself, you’ll soon realise it’s not as cheap as one would hope. When I first moved, I had a lot of savings stashed away, and it was too easy to spend when I arrived. “Oh I’ve made it, I can treat myself” is a bad attitude, learn from my mistake. It’s not that I went out buying rounds for the entire pub, but I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. Money isn’t everything of course, nevertheless it sure does make your life more exciting.
  7. Aspire to Inspire. As my favourite quote, it doubles as a mantra for my life. I lose sight of it somedays, like anything, but I believe I should be living my life aspiring to inspire others. Working towards making a difference somewhere in someone. If we live this way, we become mindful, true to ourselves and find ourselves spending our time wisely.
  8. Be yourself. Try and see moving across the world as a fresh start and a way to stop trying. Being a teenager can encourage being fake and lying to not only your friends but yourself. Be true to yourself, and you will attract people who (as cheesy as it sounds) love you for you.
  9. Don’t put pressure on yourself to grow up. I definitely fell into this trap, in fact not until recently did I climb my way out. There’s this misconception that success is wealth and talent, and that to be victorious you have to start young.  In London, I am constantly surrounded by wealth and talent that I began to doubt my own progress in life; that because I’m 20, I need to be getting onto the path leading to a career, earning some money – some real respect. It took me two whole years of adulthood, of paying bills, of working full-time, of living in London to get completely over this idea. I fully realised that I want to write and I want to travel. So I’m working in a pub so I can do this. Life is too short for stress, friends. Don’t forget point 3.
  10. Trust your gut. It’s as simple as that, don’t do anything if it doesn’t feel right.

I’m gonna finish this blog off by saying that these past two years have been the best. I love London, I love living here, I love my life here, and I love travelling. I love living with a sense of adventure. I encourage anyone and everyone to do the same.

Happy two year anniversary London, same time next year, yeah?