Category Archives: lifestyle

MY 5 GREATEST MENTORS OF 2019 – They can be yours too!

How lucky that we can learn from inspiring people on the other side of the world in real time. Books have always been a gateway to new ways of thinking and being but thanks to YouTube and social media platforms we now not only get up-to-date information and ideas but also more access to the people behind them.

Here are my 5 most influential mentors of 2019:

MARIE FORLEO

I relate so much to Marie as she is a multi-passionate entrepreneur who champions personal growth and ethical business. Her YouTube channel Marie TV is full of insightful interviews and entertaining content for anyone wanting to build a life they love. 

“Everything is figureoutable.” 

Start before you’re ready.” 

“Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”

EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE

ECKHART TOLLE

Eckhart articulates huge life-changing ideas and also wisdom in responding to the smallest of daily occurrences. His calm and humorous way of explaining such profound concepts such as oneness and presence makes them engaging and accessible to all.

“You aren’t in the universe, you are the universe.” 

“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole lives waiting to start living.” 

“The future never comes. Life is always now.”

THE POWER OF NOW

JEN SINCERO

I found Jen through her book “You are a badass”, lent to me by a friend. Her no-nonsense writing style and delivery of truth and accountability makes her books awesome reads and the kick up the butt I sometimes need to get things done.

“On the other side of your fear is your freedom.” 

“If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.” 

“There isn’t a single person on this planet who’s entitled to treat you like shit.”

YOU ARE A BADASS

YUVAL NOAH HARARI

Yuval is a celebrated historian, author and speaker.  His ideas about the present circumstances and future of humankind are both compelling and sobering. His intriguing combination of academics and spiritual wisdom make him, in my opinion, one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

“Humans were always far better at inventing tools than using them wisely.” 

“Today having power means knowing what to ignore.” 

“There are no gods, no nations, no money and no human rights except in our collective imagination.”

21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

GABBY BERNSTEIN

Gabby embodies a beautiful balance between empowerment and compassion. She brings an ancient message to a modern audience with honesty and integrity. She lives her philosophy and radiates hope for a better future.

”True abundance isn’t based on our net worth, it’s based on our self worth.” 

“At our core we are all love and light..” 

“What you believe, you receive.”

SUPER ATTRACTOR

*affiliate links to books

5 ECO-FRIENDLY LIFE HACKS which will help the planet and save you money!

Plastics have had a lot of bad press recently, and rightly so. It’s great that people are now trying to reduce their plastic consumption but I often wonder how it was even allowed to get to this point. Truth is, governments are way behind when it comes to eco-friendly policies and don’t even get me started on big corporations. I know it can feel frustrating and that the problems are much bigger than any individual, but there are things we can all do – consumer choices have a HUGE effect on the demand and therefore production of more eco-friendly products and offering more environmentally friendly services.
1 – Swap face wipes for a flannel

Just imagine a pile of 365 used face-wipes. A year of removing makeup makes a LOT of waste, and the large majority of face wipes (and bay wipes for that matter) are NON-recyclable. Using a natural cleanser and a warm, damp flannel is not only better for your skin but also better for the bank balance, and of course, it’s much more eco-friendly. If using wipes for whatever reason is unavoidable, we can at least choose a recyclable brand with a more environmentally friendly ethos.

2 – Reduce meat and dairy consumption

This is probably the single biggest change an individual can make to help the environment. We have 3 chances a day to reduce our negative impact on this beautiful planet. A reduction in the consumption of meat (especially red meat) and dairy would have a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, deforestation and antibiotic resistance. I personally don’t eat any meat or dairy, but even if everyone just reduces how much they consume on a weekly basis, it will make a huge difference! Plant-based protein sources such as lentils and beans are also much cheaper than the meat alternatives, plus they have a much lower fat content.

3 – Turn down the temperature

Lots of us are lucky enough to live in houses or flats with lots of rooms. In winter we can save energy and therefore money by turning off the radiators and closing the doors of rooms which we’re not using. The same goes for washing machines and dishwashers. 30 degrees is usually plenty hot enough to get things clean!

4 – Choose re-usable packaging

We probably all own a ‘bag for life’ which is wonderful (as long as we remember to take it with us)! There are also many more ways we can use less plastic when it comes to our shopping. Choose the loose fruit and veg instead of pre-packaged. A bunch of bananas can go in the trolly without being put in a little plastic bag first! For other products we can try to choose products which come in recyclable or reusable packaging – look for the little symbol on the back of the packet. I was unpleasantly surprised by how many aren’t actually recyclable. They’ve been going in the ‘green’ bin for nothing.

5 – Move towards minimalism

Production and delivery always have a carbon footprint. Less consumption, less damage. Whether you want to think of it as minimalism or just a more thoughtful way of living, choosing to say NO to the superfluous will save you money and create more freedom. A more conscious and deliberate lifestyle leaves more room for what is really important. If you’re interested in learning more, I have a blog post on minimalism for beginners.

 

HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF and Why It Makes You a Happy Rebel

Learning to love ourselves is an on-going process which takes a lot of questioning outside influences, reassassing our internal discourse and establishing respect for ourselves and understanding the power of saying no.

I guess a question we should first ask is – why don’t we love ourselves? If you have spent time with very young children I think we can all agree that the majority do not suffer the same self-doubt, don’t have the same negativity towards the way they look and don’t worry nearly as much about being judged. So what is it about our society which means that as we grow up and become young adults we love ourselves less, instead of more?

We start to worry what others think of us, people point out things which make us different and we start to resent those things, we see more images of a ‘perfect’ face, a ‘perfect’ body, a ‘perfect’ house, a ‘perfect’ life. What does society tell us about our own beauty and self-worth… Want that face? Get a nose job and botox! Want that body? Go to the gym and get a boob job! Want that house? Get a higher paying job! Want that life? It’s attainable, you’re just doing it wrong. We’re told that it’s all within our grasp and if we don’t have those things then it’s our fault, then we’re failing.

It’s an interesting concept which is very much promoted in the West which comes from the ideas of individualism, autonomy, self-affirmation. It is this idea that we all determine our own paths, our own lives, our own thoughts and that we are powerful enough to override our social and cultural pressures. We are constantly told we are capable of making better choices; that happiness itself is a choice. But we don’t fully understand and appreciate the overwhelming power of outside influences over our lives.

Never underestimate the power of advertising, of the media, of companies. They aren’t just making it up as they go along, they use the world’s leading psychological research to influence your decisions every single day. Do you know all about the world’s leading psychological research to be able to counteract the ways they are trying to manipulate you? Think about why all these things exist – so you decide to buy something, read something, watch something, do something, vote for someone. That’s not to say they are all bad; ideally we would buy the products and services that we genuinely need from the companies who care about their customers, not only their profits. We would vote for the political parties who offer a hopeful future not only for ourselves but also for others and for the planet. We would try to find trustworthy sources of information and not just pick up the cheapest (or free) newspaper because it’s easy and convenient but full of propaganda and negativity. But what does all this mean for our relationship with ourselves?

Especially for women but more and more so for men too; the more you doubt yourself, find things to criticise about yourself, are aware of your ‘imperfections’, feel inadequate – the more power they have over you. Everyone in sales knows the first rule is not to list all the great things about the product but to make the consumer feel like they not only want it, but even better – that they NEED it. Do you think companies will sell more or less makeup if people think they look ugly without it? Think of the magazine articles shaming celebs without make up.

Once we stop denying the powerful influence that companies and the media have over us and take practical steps to reduce it then we will become happier. It also makes us rebels – not just producing and consuming. Say NO to the newest lip product, say NO to the faster car, say NO to the people who don’t respect us and instead be grateful for what we have, what we can do and who we spend time with. Deciding our own worth based on the positive things we choose to do, the way we treat ourselves and others, the healthy bodies we nourish – now those are truly rebellious acts.

Here are some things I have done to limit the influence companies and the media have over my life:

  • I don’t read gossip, fashion or beauty magazines. Nope, none. I don’t miss them. I’m happier wearing less makeup now, I’ve stopped analysing every centimetre of myself and I think I still wear nice clothes.
  • If I see an advert for something I don’t like on Instagram, for example, botox or fur clothing I will either report the advert as ‘offensive’ or I will, at the very least, say that it isn’t of interest. That means that I will never see adverts from those types of companies again. Don’t underestimate your Instagram newsfeed; scrolling between two airbrushed photos of two beautiful YouTubers and you see an advert for lip-fillers… think that has no impact on your self-worth? Think again. I’m not overreacting, just think about this for a second – adverts for plastic surgery? Damn right that’s offensive – suggesting that I need to change anything about myself!
  • I don’t get my information from any one newspaper or TV channel. This is a huge one and so important. If you want truthful information the best people to ask are academics, so find sources which at least try to include experts in their field, people who have studied the subject and not just some news channel which brings on two random guests who have opposing opinions.
  • Unfollow people on social media who don’t inspire you, make you laugh, inform you, motivate you or something similar. Why do people have a flowing just because they are good looking?! If all they are promoting is more makeup, more clothes and more botox, maybe it’s time to unfollow. Even if they are ‘fitness’ influencers, if all they do is go to the gym and you’re someone who doesn’t really like the gym then unfollow them and go and follow someone who does something you do like – hiking, swimming, yoga, hip hop, basketball, ballroom dancing…
  • By choice, I only watch food videos which are mainly healthy (and plant-based). Why? Because we are human and the power of suggestion in a real thing. I don’t need to be watching adverts for fizzy drinks or programmes with cholesterol and sugar laden desserts. Why? Because it makes me hungry for the wrong types of things. On the other hand, if I watch a YouTube video about healthy lunch ideas then I’m much more likely to crave a lentil and sweet potato salad than a 3 tier sponge cake!
  • I try to mainly eat food which isn’t produced by a company, but by the earth. Guess why you hardly ever see adverts for mushrooms, carrots, strawberries, rice (no I don’t mean Uncle Ben’s)!? Produce which can’t be patented by companies doesn’t mean big profits in the same way as a tube of crisps or box of doughnuts. So we are bombarded by processed foods because that’s where the money is, but it’s not where the health is.
  • Spend more time away from screens, doing things which you enjoy and spending time with people you love. Simple and universally effective!

 

Best European City to live in your 20s vs 30s

Having spent most of my twenties living in two of Europe’s capitals (London and Madrid) I now find myself at 30 re-evaluating what I look for in a city.
In my 20s I was more focused on meeting new people, surrounding myself with exciting opportunities, discovering new places to eat, cultural activities, social events. I enjoyed the vibrant night-life and buzz of a big city.
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Trafalgar Square, London. Photo by @elegantglowphotography
In London I felt like I was right in the middle of what was happening globally. I loved how cosmopolitan it was, how people instead of identifying themselves primarily by their nationality, where first and foremost – Londoners. I loved being able to eat the cuisine of any country in one city. I was lucky enough to live in London for the 2012 Olympic games. I could spend my weekends in some of the best museums in the world (Natural History Museum), had work drinks in some of the most iconic buildings in ‘the City’ and partied with some amazing people in some awesome places to incredible music (Guanabara).
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La Latina, Madrid. Photo by @pattolmo
Madrid was a completely new adventure – learning a new language and a new culture. Madrid has a very different vibe to London; more laid-back, more friendly, more homely in a way. But it is still a capital city. I wanted to completely immerse myself in la vida española. It changed me as a person more than I could have ever imagined. YOLO was my philosophy for those first few years in Madrid. I found myself living much more in the present – easier when it’s glorious sunshine and people prioritise social time. I discovered new food, places, people. I met some amazing friends who will be in my life forever and then I also met the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with.
So what’s changed? I still want culture, opportunities, somewhere which feels connected to the rest of the world. Having lived in Madrid and learned a new way of life, I would also like somewhere where people aren’t overly competitive, where there is a healthier ‘work-life’ balance, and where the sunny weather creates an outdoor culture. But I can do without hours on the underground / metro, the crazy nights out, the overly busy streets. I’d like to feel closer to nature.
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Málaga, Spain.
So what’s the answer? I know that I still need to live in a city but perhaps not a capital city. Having just spent a few days in Malaga it seems to offer many of the things I’m looking for but I still haven’t decided. I feel very different to how I felt when decided to move to Madrid. There is more riding on this decision. It’s not just about me this time, it’s about us. Not just where we’ll both be happy but also where we can imagine bringing up our own family but also feeling connected to our parents, siblings, relatives, friends. There will be some important conversations happening in the next few months and ultimately a decision but even then it doesn’t have to be final. We are so lucky to live in a time where people can move around, change their minds, try things out. I’m excited about our next step, wherever that may be.
There are so many lists of top European cities but I’m creating my own from my own experiences and tastes. As you’ll see, I tend to be drawn to the Mediterranean. Here are the places I would have liked to live in my 20s and could imagine myself living in my 30s.
20s:
London
Madrid
Barcelona
Edinburgh
Lisbon
Paris
Berlin
Rome
Geneva
Athens
30s:
Malaga
Oxford
Bristol
Biarritz
Valencia
Oporto
Florence
Cologne
Valletta
Naples

 

Minimalism for beginners – How to Live More with Less

I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to minimalism but the things I have learned and implemented so far have had such a positive and profound impact on my life that I wanted to share them.

  • streamline your wardrobe
  • back to basics food
  • create more space
  • priorities and time management
  • economise and become more eco friendly

One of the first steps on my minimalism journey was to declutter my wardrobe. I had so many clothes and yet only regularly wore less than 40% of them. Of course there are some items which will never be worn regularly (an elegant evening dress, ski socks, bikini) we need a few special items but we can be selective about which ones deserve a place in our wardrobe. As I have gotten older my style has evolved and I now wear what suits me rather than trying to follow trends. Now it’s about quality over quantity and simplifying my life including what I wear. Over the course of a few weeks I went through every cupboard, draw and shoe-stand and donated well over half to charity. Now I try to maintain a 1 in 1 out policy so if I’m buying something new then I should be donating a similar idem that I already have.

Simple, healthy food doesn’t mean boring food. When you buy quality ingredients and combine them in the right way there will be an abundance of flavour. Natural ingredients have always been my preference but now that I understand the health and environmental benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based diet I will never go back to eating how I did before. Finding ways of buying food with less packaging will mean less waste for you and a happier planet. Minimalism is also about taking time to enjoy the simple things in life like preparing a healthy meal and enjoying it with a friend. I talk more about my diet on my Food page.

It is amazing how much space you can create by decluttering and rearranging. In Madrid we lived in quite a small flat and it’s amazing how you can transform a room with a lick of white paint, some rearranging of furniture and keeping only the things which have a purpose (preferably multifunctional) or are beautiful and genuinely add aesthetic value. The hardest thing about this aspect of minimalism is letting go of things which might hold sentimental value. Something I did was to take photos of things so I would always have the memory but I didn’t need to keep the actual item. This phase is definitely an ongoing process. I love light bright rooms with very simple furniture, maybe a plant or two and a simple colour scheme, I find it so much easier to concentrate and feel peaceful in a space like that.

For me, minimalism is not only about the physical (what we wear and eat, our possessions) but very much a philosophy of being mindful and deliberate in our decisions and how we live. More on my Lifestyle page. It’s so easy just to ‘go with the flow’ but what if the flow isn’t taking you where you want to go? What if the flow is actually detrimental to your longterm happiness and health? Something which I have always been careful of is not following the ‘path of least resistance’. For me, that path leads to becoming who others want me to be or who society wants me to be, not to who I want to be. To feeling unfulfilled and more susceptible to manipulation. It is important to prioritise the things which make you happy and healthy; those things are often not the easy options. Think about how you spend the 24 hours of your day – yes, 8 are for sleeping but what about the others? Is 3 hours of television really contributing to health and happiness?

The great thing about minimalism is that with a 1 in 1 out policy you end up shopping less and when you do you are more likely to make better purchases. When purchases are well thought out and each thing has it’s place it means you spend less and live more! We can also make more environmentally-friendly decisions which will be more economical longterm. Some good quality re-usable bags instead of plastic ones, a natural multi-purpose facial oil instead of 3 different products full of chemicals. Using good quality Tupperware to take some food into work for lunch instead of throwing away so much packaging and eating something less healthy and more expensive. Televisions, laptops, desktops, tablets – how many screens do we actually need in one house? As I already mentioned if things are multi-purpose then that’s even better. What other eco-friendly ways do you save money, I’d love to know in the comments!