The Lost Woman part 1

My oldest friend sent me this article one night. I’d come home late from a night of dancing with friends and could already feel the ache of a hangover coming, a reminder of the bubbles and laughter that had been consumed in abundance only hours before.

I re-read it two days later. Sober. Sat on the couch alone at home with nothing more than the ticking clock for company.

I haven’t really publicly mentioned anything about what happened in 2016. The silence and the privacy wasn’t particularly characteristic of me but the exchange and unravelling felt like it needed a steadiness to which I couldn’t hold had I been outwardly expressing.

I cancelled my wedding two months before it was supposed to happen. I began dismantling the life I’d created with my fiancé three months before that. A life that had been six and a half years in the making. One that saw a move across the world and an evolution of life that I couldn’t have foreseen as the bruised 27 year old who had to escape London life for fear of losing it.

The end is rarely a defined point. It is something that bleeds like spilled ink, watery and vague.

The man I left was a good man. He still is. We aren’t in touch anymore but I still know this to be true. And I know that he loved me. And that I loved him. But that love wasn’t a good enough excuse to keep quiet when the whisper of truth turned into a dawning realisation. And for the next year would be the only light source in a never-ending tunnel of true darkness.

Even three years on I still have ‘aha’ moments of what happened and why it was the right thing to do. Why I know the difference between fierce grief and ravaging depression. I wasn’t depressed in those three months between daring to tell the truth and the actual phone calls home to break the news. I was crystal clear. I was calm. I was as certain as I’d ever been that no matter how mad and shocking this seemed it had to be done.

We made sense, me and my ex, for a very long time. The ultimate extroverted party people, never to be without a story, a cigarette, a deep pocket and a long bar tab.

Nothing happened as such. No big event came crashing in that threw everything into question. No one died, no one cheated, no one lost a job, a family member or their mind. But I had lost myself. I was the ever disappearing woman and the rising sun of truth meant that I had to make a choice. And I had to choose me and the daily outlining of repeatedly going over my edges and stake a claim that I was not invisible.

I think it began with the proposal. Outside the toilets of a pub when he was eight pints in. That there had been an original plan, but my change of schedule meant the whole thing was scrapped, and that the day couldn’t be changed, because of how much the chosen date meant to him. Let me tell you, when people find out you’re engaged, the follow up questions are either; “when’s the wedding?” or “how did he propose.” And this is the story you get to tell, this was the story I got to tell…”Outside the toilets of the pub when he was drunk.” And that’s what I believed I was worth.

*

I was sick. I’d been recently diagnosed with the ever so 21st century fashionable illness of adrenal fatigue. This wasn’t just tiredness, this was my body unable to produce cortisol and adrenaline. This was feeling like I’d been hit by a truck after getting 8 hours sleep and feeling on top of the world at 10pm. This was drinking to try and even out the ever-present flight or fight response my body was telling me I was in. An internal alarm constantly sounding that I wasn’t safe and I had to always be prepared. It was supplements and lifestyle changes. It was being patient and trying to not show that this invisible affliction was taking its toll every single day.

I dropped back my work hours to two days per week. After spending two years running round busy restaurants and healing the wounds of a career bound to an office and an internal pressure system that would have made an astronaut faint, I was back in an office. Sure it was for a brilliant place, but still the strip lights, recycled air, politics, and people pleasing sent red flags to a place I wasn’t yet prepared to go.

We rented out our spare room and our apartment on occasion to make ends meet. I would clean, change sheets and do trips to the laundrette on my days ‘off’, attempting to also spend time reconnecting to a new vocation and try and see if I could carve out a life for myself that was more appropriate to a 9-5 sensitive being.

It was agreed. But the balance was still out. The ratio was uneven and the resentment started to build. As I was trying to shed my old ways of coping, it felt like he moved more solidly in to them. As I planned date nights and went to courses, he was intimately involved with the bars and beer gardens that were in walking distance of his office. It was separate bedrooms because of my early starts and his snoring. It was not wanting to watch the same programme so he’d put in his headphones and watch something on his phone. It wasn’t enjoying reading so it was more headphones and game playing before lights out. It was only wanting to be intimate when the smell of beer was heavy on the breath and the heavy handed move toward me felt like a cheap nod to having attempted to make contact, so I was the one to have shut it down.

It was being constantly told that I was strong, or giving my phone number out to strangers he’d met at bars who he’d been obsessively telling them about me and how I could help them, it was being put so high on a pedestal that I may have well been living on the moon.

And I so wanted to make it work. I wanted to be grateful to have found this good, sweet, man who really, really loved me, but who never really saw me for all of who I was. I didn’t want to let down my parents or our families, I didn’t want to waste all that money, I didn’t want them to worry that I’d gone mad. But I also knew that I wanted to be loved again, that I wanted to be seen, that I wanted to be cherished, to be made eye contact with, to be made love to.

The beating fist of my heart was punching its way through my chest and it meant it. ‘Follow me’ she said, ‘Don’t you dare shrink back into this or leave it a moment later. It’s going to hurt like hell and there won’t be much time but you have to do it now. You have to do it now. You have to do it now. You have to go. Time to go. Time to go. Time to go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go. Go.’

So I did. I did. I said the words out loud. I said them at the dinner table on a Tuesday evening. And so it began…

 

How to…love yourself

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When I first thought about writing this post, I didn’t feel entirely like I had an answer. I mean, it’s a hard thing to pin down isn’t it, self love? It’s so subjective, and if you’re anything like me, a moveable feast depending on what day of the week it is.
But after mulling it over for a while, the thing that I landed on was this…

It’s a shift in perspective and a question.

What do I know to be true?

Inherently, that whoever you are , you are so worthy of love, you are the most deserving. But that can feel like a conceptual leap most times.

So what’s the first step? And what does that look like practically?

For me it’s what some one who loved me would most likely tell me to do… eat something delicious that a human being has cooked (i.e. not from a packet), make sure there is a colour other than beige involved (i.e. fresh veggies), drink water, call home, move your body, rest, sleep, get out in nature, and take care of yourself, as well as someone you love would.

And then I’d say, how often are you doing this? Self-care, and self-love, are not things to be relegated to a Sunday, a bubble bath, or a holiday to some far flung place that you’re smashing on the credit card and thinking about later. It’s about what you are doing every single day.

Finding a pocket of time to notice something, to ask for something, to just let yourself be fully 100% you and let that be seen by someone. To find play and fun and joy, because as adults they are usually the first things to go. Take up salsa dancing (I’ve just started!), revisit a hobby you used to love as a kid (horse riding anyone?), spend time with or watch someone really funny. Sometimes when the concepts feel too vague, it’s an outside-in job, rather than an inside-out one.

Lastly, it’s about recognising that the times we are most likely to make change are when we are forced to. And right now I think we’re in a genuine self-love deficit.

Because what else is there? We are already very well practiced in the alternative. Shopping trips, endless scrolling, FOMO, comparison, more consumption, more take, more separation.

Most things in the modern world are geared to divide and conquer, to remove ourselves from this place of inherent worth because it’s so much easier to control when we’re all plugged in and happily participating in the biggest magic trick of all time. If you’re busy looking over here, you’re not looking over there.

We must have the courage to ask to see it all. We must have the courage to build better boundaries and know when we are being pushed and asked too much of. The system continues to feed into itself, it won’t change because you’ve identified the problem, you have to change.

You have to be brave and lead a one person revolution that steps out of the societal expectation and step into your power.

Both are uncomfortable, neither is easy. But it rests with you. And to do it, you must rest, you must turn inward and recharge. To shift perspective and understand that your merit is not based on someone else’s approval or that your output is tied to your worth. Learn how to rest., learn how to be gentle and kind to yourself first.

Our most important relationship is with ourselves and how we honour our soul and spirit. So give yourself a break and treat yourself as the biggest love of your life. Because we are all in this lifetime-long-term relationship until the very end.  And I think that that person deserves to be unashamedly loved.

Timing is everything…

Hello old friends, or maybe some of you are new.

It’s been a while…and by a while, I mean a good few years.

As seems to be have been a trend of annus horriblis 2016, 2017, 2018, who was I but to follow suit.

A break up, a bout of glandular fever, and then visa waiting limbo, it feels like 2019 has finally been the break in the clouds, the sun has popped out and I’m kind of left wondering…well, just wondering.

Wondering what to do next, wondering what the next move should be, wondering if I’ll ever nail not succumbing to carbs on Saturday nights (no I know, I won’t, I’m OK with that, because…CARBS people.)

And I feel I’ve come a little bit of a full circle. I’ve taken a couple of run ups at this blog/business/brand/idea, and the intention is always there but then, well, you know, life.

But now, after deciding to leave my lovely job of the last four years, I’m now thinking that Moloko may just have been right…the time really could be now.

Look, the last three years haven’t been all bad. I became a yoga teacher, I learnt reiki, I gained a nephew, I gained a family of friends, I’ve travelled, I’ve done some pretty fun stuff.

And I’m at an age (33 and proud of the silver threads I’m earning on the daily) where I know a bit too much and the hiding places are getting fewer, or at least smaller.

So I guess this is a blog to say, I’m back.

Hi.

How are you?

How have your last three years been? Let me know…I need inspiration for these musings so if I can chuck in my pennies worth on helping out, then I want to.

So what do you want to know/hear/see/think/feel? Comment below, or pop me an email on jolippold@hotmail.co.uk.

Love x

Learning how to take the pressure off

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This post was originally written for, and appears on, the Loving Earth blog.

We’re well into 2019 now and at LE HQ we reckon this year it’s time to get real about making a difference in our personal lives, for the sake of our climate . We’re going to dedicate our content over the next 12 months to personal changes that have a tangible impact. Stay tuned!

While musing on this idea, we kept coming back to how much we’re bombarded by information and how much pressure that exerts on us to be, do, have this and this and this and the other thing and that one….Recently Marie Kondo has sparked a wave of contemplating what ‘sparks joy’ in our lives, and we’re asking what if we brought that concept into a wider arena; the food we eat, the way we exercise, how we spend our $$.

What if we just let there be a bit more space in our day to day? A pause to take a moment and regroup. What if we let ourselves take a minute after a meal so we can digest? Or let ourselves have some silent time after the Netflix and the snacks? Sit down to a quiet cup of tea, screen-free, before jumping into the car and speeding down the freeway. This may sound like time wasting or being idle, but it is vitally productive because it’s regenerative to your mind and nervous system.

We’ll start to see the word more this year, but what does regenerative mean? To us it’s making products that renew people, communities and our planet. It’s about the whole system and raising our collective wellbeing on every level. It’s helping regenerate The Commons; the forests, the soil, the oceans, rejuvenating the wellbeing of the individual, the restoring purity of whole food.

It’s not just about agricultural practices, it’s a lot more personal than that, and a lot more practical to our day to day life. We’ll be digging into DIY composting, with a step-by-step guide on how to do it. Sharing tips from special guests and experts on how to shop in bulk and other ways they’ve have found to relieve this pressure that living today has. Let us know if there is something you want us to explore or have any questions you want answered. We’re here to get to the bottom and make this as simple and fun as possible.

 

5 minutes with…Erin Rhoads

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This interview was originally conducted for, and appears on, the Loving Earth blog.

We sat down with Erin from ‘The Rogue Ginger‘ to chat about Erin’s own journey of zero waste living and her pursuit to live plastic free.

Where did you grow up and does Melbourne feel like home now?

I grew up in Moss Vale, New South Wales. A small country town sitting between Sydney and Canberra. While I love Melbourne there are times I long to swap the city for small town life again, especially as I get older. My husband is a born & bred Melburnian and I don’t think I’ll be able to convince him to make the tree change. Well, maybe if we find a small town within Victoria where there is consistent AFL coverage.

Any tips on how to stick to your values when travelling?

I like to remind myself that I’m a guest when I travel. And we all love guests who are kind and helpful, not messy and disrespectful. So I make sure the decision that none of my choices will leave a mess for those who live there permanently to clean up. I always make sure to take cloth shopping totes and reusable produce bags, along with a water bottle, container to avoid single-use plastics and a cutlery wrap full of regular cutlery. I also like to learn a couple of phrases like “no bag” and “no straw, please” when visiting foreign non english speaking country.

How have your views changed since starting the blog?

I’ve come to realise that far to much responsibility to “save the environment” has fallen on the consumers shoulders. We are the ones constantly expected to do the right thing, when really businesses can and should make changes. While voting with our dollars is important, it’s even more important to write letters demanding action be taken by businesses and government for change to happen fast.

What’s your favourite Nicholas Sparks book/movie?! (check out Erin’s blog here)

The Notebook, hands down for both book and movie.

Can you tell us the most frustrating thing you’ve found since going zero waste?

When people tell me they couldn’t make any of the changes I’ve made, while claiming their own personal actions wouldn’t matter anyway. Of course our individual actions matter and us humans are great at making changes when we are supported by one another without judgement. That’s one great thing about the zero-waste movement is the lack of judgement and support for doing the best you can to becoming a better custodian for the planet.

What was the best piece of advice your mum gave you?

See as much of the world as you can and do whatever you want that will make you happy. I’ve managed to do both. Thanks Mum!

You’re a parent to a nearly two-year-old, how has becoming a mum impacted your lifestyle?

Yes, becoming a mum has impacted my lifestyle but not to the level I was fearing. Right now he is little and I can still make a lot of decisions for him. When he is older I understand it will get harder to navigate once he’s in school surrounded by others who don’t follow our zero-waste lifestyle. I can only do my best and will strive to lead by example. Hopefully in three years time there would have been more changes and some of what we do will be embraced by more people.

What three things can people do right this minute to help move them closer toward zero waste?

Reduce how much food waste is going into your bin. Each year, one out of five shopping bags worth of vegetables, fruit and bread are put into the bin. Before doing the grocery shopping sit down and write a list, keeping in mind to choose ingredients that can be utilised over several meals. A shopping list will help you stop wandering supermarket aisles grabbing food you don’t need or buying items on sale that you might use, but probably won’t. And don’t forget to write down on the list what fruit and vegetables you already have at home to stop you from buying more. It’s so easy to go on autopilot reaching for something like carrots when you might have two at home that need to be eaten.

With organic waste making up close to 40% of our bins, look into setting up a compost for a larger yard, while worm farms and bokashi bin are ideal for a smaller home or apartment. ShareWaste allows those without the option for the above to log on and search their area for others in the community who would like to accept food waste. Keep food scraps in the freezer between drop offs to reduce smell. When organics like food are in landfill they decompose slowly and producing harmful gases like methane and carbon dioxide, that adds to global warming. When food scraps are composted they are no longer waste, instead they become food for the soil. Use your new compost to help grow herbs and vegetables, preferably the ones you eat often.

Choose plastic free produce and buy fruit and vegetables loose, and not wrapped in plastic. Invest in reusable produce bags, either made from old sheets, sold in health food stores or found on Etsy. If plastic free produce are hard for you to find in your area join the #plasticfreeproduce campaign with activist Anita Horan. She offers materials on her website anitahoran.com to help you communicate to store owners you’d like food wrapped in its own natural skin and not plastic.

Is there anything that you’ve not yet been able to substitute or go without?

Not yet 🙂

What was the hardest thing to give up/reduce your use of?

Chips at the start but I got over that quicker than I thought I would. You just end up finding something else to snack on. Most bulk food stores have fun salty snacks. My favourite is murukku.

Who do you think is at the forefront of changing the way we live at the moment?

I think it’s the individuals in our communities who are standing up and asking for change at the forefront of a movement. We often want to look for celebrities making waves, and yes they can influence this in a big way. But often these movements begin in our local neighbourhoods. There is a wealth of people to connect with and learn from right here in our communities. Jump onto your local council website to see what free classes or workshops are happening around you. You might be inspired to run a workshop yourself.

Clare Press (Wardrobe Crisis and Rise & Resist), Sarah Wilson, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (founder of Plastic Free July), Heidi Taylor (Tangaroa Blue), Bea Johnson, Beth Terry, Ronnie Kahn…and so many more!

What’s the most unexpected connection/ aha moment/ life hack you’ve experienced since starting your zero-waste journey…or in life generally?!

That i’m not just a consumer, i’m a citizen first, and I have the power to help dictate how our stuff is packaged and presented to us, where it comes from, who makes it and the conditions they are made under. Living zero-waste isn’t only about reducing waste, it’s also about reassessing everything we’ve been told is necessary to live a happy and fulfilling life.

The best and the worst thing about writing a book?

The worst thing would be when your publisher has sent it to the printer knowing you can’t make anymore changes. And the best is being told how helpful your book has been for people who thought their actions didn’t matter and now they feel more confident to be the everyday eco warrior our world needs.

An open letter to studio/gym owners

The way you make someone feel, who is parting with cold, hard-earned cash, shouldn’t be an after-thought or an assumption.

You need to take care of the details until they have proverbially or literally put their coat on and are out the door. And dare I say, even after that.

Remember gym class as a kid? Apart from the super sporty crew (surprisingly not a group I was ever a part of) who relished in the Wednesday afternoons, most of us begrudgingly donned the required uniform and attempted to not turn into a beetroot or make too much of a fool of ourselves.

Well that feeling rarely leaves us as an adult, and your wellness studio or gym is now the equivalent.

It’s the time of year that we’ll soon be seeing shelves bereft of tinsel and fairy lights and seeing garish activewear and exercise equipment in its place. Emblazoned adverts telling us that because it’s the new year, there is a chance at a new you.

And we buy into it. I buy into it. Because it’s a lovely idea. I’d love to think that by a clock chiming midnight all the horrors and errors and over indulgence from the last year has been miraculously swept away and now on the precipice of a brand new 365 day stretch I get to decide who this person is going to be.

The only problem is that we come at it with the best of intentions but a nervous mind. The desire is strong, but the will is easily swayed by left-over Quality Street and the thought that there is ‘always tomorrow’ to start your new life as the new you.

As intrepid as we feel, dressed up in brand new, hi-tech gear that has cost the equivalent of a house deposit, we are also reminded of being that awkward teenager with terrible hand-eye coordination.

We need to be guided into being and your establishment, in our eyes, is the back drop for this transformation to take place. We may willingly or wincingly hand over our credit cards to sign up for ‘Barry’s Boot camp,’ envisaging tough love and drills of Private Benjamin fame, or possibly a gentler approach that lulls us into believing that three sessions of Yin yoga really does count as exercise.

Once we’re through the door, and have done the ‘uncomfortable newbie’ bit, we’ve been shown the ropes and shepherded to signing up for a membership, we need you to keep holding that space until we’re steady on our feet.

Ticking the boxes or processes on ‘how to sign new members up’ and the protocols you’ve been shown in staff training are just the beginning.

Beyond that, customer experience is ALWAYS based on the interactions they have with you and your brand, whether in person or online.

If something stumbles at the first hurdle, which happens because…life, it’s not the fact that something negative happened, it’s the fact that something unexpected happened and now all eyes are on you to see how you’re going to show up and fix it.

And it is up to you. The person coming to your establishment assumes that you are the expert and are going to impart your wisdom on how to do ‘X, Y, Z’ but also that you and your staff are the experts on what to do when we are in your space. If something hasn’t gone according to plan, an email has been missed, a communication hasn’t landed, or someone simply forgot something, on either party, it is YOUR job to fix it.

The amount of times I’ve talked with friends about simply not returning to a place because one tiny thing went wrong and was dealt with poorly is scary. It’s a competitive market out there, one that is full of deals and bells and whistles. Fully stocked bathrooms, free child minding, bring a friend for free passes, which can feel intimidating and may leave you questioning ‘how can I compete with that?’.

Truth is, you maybe can’t. But you can up the ante on the human services side of things. You can connect with people and see them as not just a consumer or customer of your business but a new member to your community that has asked to be a part of it, have a seat at the table and expects to be treated as so.

Nine times out of ten it comes back to these things, no matter what the issue is:

Have they been acknowledged?

Have you stuck by ‘protocol’ and words on a page rather than being a person?

Have they been treated with compassion, spaciousness, generosity and respect?

Have you gone out of your way to rectify the issue that feels like a win-win for both parties?

And it won’t matter that you don’t have black grouted bevelled white tiles in your bathrooms, it won’t matter if you don’t even have a shower, because it’ll be based on seeing them, the person, fully, the quality of the experience, how welcome they feel in your presence and in your space, is what people will keep coming back. If you leave people feeling good about themselves and being with you, they won’t think twice about coming back, or telling their friends.

Maintain a cookie cutter approach and sure you’ll attract a certain type of clientele who are more interested in looking than feeling, but can you honestly say that’s why you opened your space? Because the world needs more people who can be congratulated on their abs, rather than people who have been shown compassion and held through a deeply personally experience of transforming the comfort of the familiar for the deep desire of reconnecting to the only homes they will ever have?

Can going plant-based really help the planet?

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This post was originally written for, and appears on, the Loving Earth blog.

There is no hiding from the conversation on climate change and thanks to a recent study, the single biggest way to reduce our carbon footprint is in our hands, or should we say, on our plates.

An article, published in Science journal, revealed that reducing your meat and dairy intake was the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Often it can feel overwhelming when thinking about ways to limit our consumption or be better care-takers of planet earth, and if you’ve been thinking about going plant-based, what we put on our plate can make a real difference.

What is the difference between being vegan and plant-based?

Traditionally veganism is a lifestyle. It prescribes to not consuming or using products that animals have been directly affected by. So, as well as not eating meat, or dairy, it also includes not consuming eggs, honey, gelatine, wearing leather, fur, or buying products that test on animals, or use feathers (like pillows or doonas.

Plant-based, is a wider term that can be applied to those who mainly eat plants and generally refers to a way of eating.

We’ve made our top 5 list of ways to make plant-based super simple:

1. Try doing meat free Mondays or substituting your regular options with plant-based or veggie alternatives, like veggie sausages or using a nut mylk instead of dairy. We made our creamiest creation in late 2018, a cashew mylk chocolate to rival any conventional dairy milk chocolate. The best part is that it’s still made using only three, wholefood ingredients: unroasted Ashaninka cacao, creamy cashews, and coconut sugar. Meaning you won’t crash after eating it thanks to the healthy fats in the cashews and low GI sweetness from the coconut sugar.

2. Accessibility is key when making the switch and finding foods that taste good and fill you up are the most important in keeping you on track. If you’re eating bland foods and feel hungry all the time, you’re less likely to stick to it. Make sure that you have well stocked cupboards and fridges, as well as on-the-go snacks to keep you from reaching for other options that aren’t as aligned with your intentions.

3. Grow your own! Ever thought about starting a veggie patch? It’s a great time of year to get into the garden and plant up some seeds so that a trip to your back garden is as easy as picking up the phone to order in. It also means you know exactly where your food comes from and has zero food miles! Start off simple and don’t forget that all those veggie scraps can make a great base for a compost for it all to come full circle. Need some inspiration? Check out our blog on DIY composting.

4. Get creative in the kitchen. Find recipes of some of your old favourite meals and re-create them with a plant-based spin. We have a whole host of veggie and vegan friendly recipes here.

5. Make it fun and social. Look up local communities that have gardens or vegan meet ups. Finding likeminded people means you have a wider pool of resources to share ideas and inspiration with, and how great is a pot luck dinner when you know you can eat everything there?!

Whether you are looking to change up your food choices or have been a life-long vegetarian or vegan, every step toward reducing your carbon foot print is a positive one. Here’s to the power of plants!

 

One weekend in New York and I’m questioning everything…

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After the worst flight in my history of flying ever, we finally made it to the Air BnB; tired, over it and not in the most open frame of mind. I was on a mission though to get out there and to meet Zoe to get the plan back on track again. Jumping in an Uber, I headed the twenty minutes out to The Wythe Hotel. Perched up at the bar, ordered my first coffee and took a moment to let go of the last piece of ‘pissed-off-ness’ I was holding on to.

Zoe arrived, and we spent the next two hours and two coffees catching up on what had been happening so far. Amazing things can happen in a second in New York. Getting to meet Thaddeus, the awesome guy behind the bar, who instantly injected the vibe that you truly were on a movie set, we left, finally in search of…something. Wandering around Williamsburg we happened upon music, make up at Space NK (MECCA) , and a much needed brunch at The Butcher’s Daughter. A taste of my first ever CBD infused cold brew coffee and some veggie avo Eggs Benedict, we were smoothly cruising into Saturday afternoon. A quick pit stop back at Zoe’s, we were back out to cross the bridge and hit Manhattan – hilariously on the hunt for some boob tape, after both of us decided we’d dress for the entire day/evening/night.

The Colour Factory was incredible. A place where we got to act like big kids, eating my first ever Moshi ice cream, and have a colour experience that I don’t think I’d even had as a child. We entered rooms and took photos as we were given sweet treats, told to draw pictures, embarked on a choose-your-own-adventure colour experience, a dance move contest, a balloon room filled with balloons covered in children’s wishes, and culminating in a massive adult ball pool filled with ice blue balls. It was like therapy jumping around for what felt like hours. Taking photos and being silly, was just what the Dr ordered.

After reluctantly leaving, we walked across the road to The Dominick hotel for a pool side glass of bubbles (me) and an earl grey tea (Zoe) filled with more girl talk about men, sex, love and silliness. After discovering Zoe had lost an earring in the ball pool we headed back over to the factory. And in a long line of serendipitous experiences it had already been found.

We spent the next couple of hours wondering up from downtown to Greenwich Village which was spilling out with people. We strolled through Washington Square Gardens, which reminded me of Leicester Square in London. We happened upon an incredible installation called The Strangers Project, a simple concept where you anonymously share a story or your story. A mixture of funny, inspiring, heartfelt and some downright tear inducing stories were shared, and I walked away ridiculously touched by a city that I’d only just landed in and had begun hating on in a major way, but was now conspiring to bring me to my knees in awe/love/wonder at every turn. As we continued to walk around the park, two young boys playing the saxophone and guitar were busking, playing ‘Just the two of us’ as a crowd gathered and it was such a pure jam of humanness. I turned away and said aloud ‘I think I just died 5,000 times’ and a woman next to me said ‘Welcome to New York honey.’ And that was it. I was in love.

Ever since, Lady Luck, fate, coincidence, serendipity has been following me around this city.

We stumbled across an amazing Mexican restaurant, Atla, before heading to an 80’s night which finished at 3am but that was only the beginning.

The next day, a lie in and slow start meant I was back at The Wythe for a herb egged crepe and coffee before a Club SÖDA event on psychedelics and sobriety; a panel discussion on micro-dosing and mental health, mindfulness, meditation, healing trauma and doing The Work. A kundalini breath work session, and an intense bout of eye gazing had moved so much stagnant energy that would have taken over had I let myself fully give in to the hangover. The irony wasn’t lost on me that I was hungover at a sober curious event, but maybe, that hungover vulnerability was what was needed. I felt so unfulfilled in what I’m doing. So bound to what I should be doing, handing it over to other people who drain me of confidence and energy. I know that is also a reflection of myself, that I have let flimsy boundaries disappear into nothing, if they were there at all. I’ve stopped listening to my inner voice that has something to say. I’ve let the left brain be so in control that I’ve totally shouted down my right.

Gazing into someone’s eyes, with an inkling that this wasn’t something that they’d experienced before, was, as always, incredibly powerful. Someone totally neutral and new to hold space for and to hold space for me. The connection when you drop in past the nervous giggles and the awkward eye contact, is deeply emotional. We teared up at exactly the same time, overcome with emotions. Feelings of grief, of love, of understanding and seeing that we are more alike than we are different. I kept repeating the phrases ‘You are so loved. You are forgiven. You are held.’ As much to myself as to the woman in front of me.

Holding closely the thoughts of…

RELEASE. Let it go, stop bracing and holding, allow the resistance to drop and fall away, to melt into soft fluidness that can’t be contained but can be so deeply witnessed.

BREATHE. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. In and out. Inhale and exhale. Move it through, anchor it in, move it through again. It will pass, but it is here. Holding the breath is still a form of holding.

I realise with spotlight clarity I am sweating the small stuff – so worried about what others think that I’ve forgone my freedom. I have caged myself into believing that there is only one way. That there is only one way to live. To please others, or to do the sensible thing. I don’t think I’ve done the sensible thing in a few areas of my life, but maybe that’s the way that the universe is showing up in that and nudging me further into a mad, ridiculous life full of triumph and disaster.

My parents love me so what does it matter? They love me. I am loved. Whether I’m married or not, whether I have a visa for another country or not. Pieces of paper do not make up the human.

And then the one and only truth. The one I always come back to …

LOVE

There is only one part that is separating us and 99 parts that are connecting us. Connect, love, hold, it’s safe to be a part of something. Trust that. Trust you.

Loving life in the USA – Austin, Texas

Austin-TexasThis post was originally written for, and appears on, the Loving Earth blog.

What a month it’s been!

We’ve been on the road in ‘Merica for most of September and loving It! By planes, trains ubers and rental cars we’ve been hanging out in New York, Texas & LA, talking to people & eating loads of chocolate.

We launched Loving Earth into US stores at the beginning of this year, with distributors and retailers jumping on board from New York, LA, Portland and Texas. It’s been a bit surreal and so exciting to see ourselves on the US shelves, especially in Whole Foods Market in Texas.

One city that stole all our hearts a little bit was Austin, Texas.

Check out our top Austin tips below…

It’s a great mixture of heart and hustle and the best taco’s we’ve ever had! Check out our top places and picks to check out if you’re in the area – stay weird!

Eat Curcuma
A trip out to East Austin has to include a stop at this Ayurvedic, 100% plant-based food truck stop. We had the kitchari and a immunity tonic shot. Exactly what we needed after a long flight.

Take Heart Shop
We fell in love with this beautiful boutique full of Japanese ceramics, hand rolled incense and beautiful jewellery. It was hard not to buy the shop…and it’s next door to a great vintage store.

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Black Swan Yoga
In desperate need of a stretch? We floated out of Black Swan on a cloud. The team are charming and encouraging and the space is a low lit haven that was perfect for a before-bed flow.

Outdoor Voices
We’d been fans of Ty Haney’s active wear brand before we even visited Austin. Sustainably sourced and a great range of styles and designs, moving never felt so good, or stylish.

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Nadamoo
If you’re on the hunt for something sweet, then it’d be rude not to stop by Nadamoo for a scoop of coconut ice cream. The chocolate peanut butter won it for us…