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

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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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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