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 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.

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

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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