All the good things coming

As I mentioned in this post, a bunch of exciting things are coming up.
While I was back home over Christmas, I wasn’t missing New Zealand one bit. I didn’t want to go back. Why? Because I had nothing waiting for me there. With the exception of the summer basketball season coming up, I had absolutely nothing planned – and that scared me.
But since I couldn’t avoid going back – and I didn’t want to stay in Italy either – I decided to take the situation into my own hands and create something exciting to look forward to.
So here’s what I did:

  • Quit the dogs
    As much as I love my doggos, I had been walking them for about seven months now and I knew it was time to move on. This job was not adding anything to my CV and it was preventing me from applying to other potential positions that could have opened more doors to what I actually wanted to do. It was not an easy decision but I’m glad I made it.
  • Gave design agencies a go
    Before leaving for my Christmas break I met with a very interesting dude who gave me a bunch of contacts for some design agencies that might give me a chance. I’ve checked them out and made a list of my favourites, so I can contact them and show them how brilliant I am.
  • Applied at Commonsense
    I already had an interview here last winter which went great, but unfortunately they were looking for someone to work over Christmas and I wasn’t going to be there. So I called them back a few days ago and boom – I got a job! This is just a casual position for now but there are good chances that it’s going to turn into a part-time soon. I am very excited about this job as it’s exactly what I was looking for: something flexible, that keeps me active, in a friendly environment, aware of Zero Waste and veganism. I’m starting next week. Score!
  • Sent more CVs
    After all it’s after the holiday, which is the best time of the year to apply for jobs. Since I have time anyway, it would be a shame not to send as many CVs as possible for a couple of months and see what happens.
  • Reserved three days a week to write my book
    I’m writing a book! There, I’ve said it. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time or balls to do. But since now I’m in a (mental and physical) space to follow my passions, I’ve decided to take on this huge project and DO IT. I haven’t sent myself a deadline but I do want to take it seriously and fucking finish it.

There’s also something else happening but I’m not in the position to reveal it just yet (mainly cos it’s probably a way too ambitious project that might never happen so I’d  rather not disclose it in the first place, but we’ll see).
What are your plans for 2018?

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‘Tis the season

It’s after the holidays, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how being a Zero Waster/wannabe-minimalist/life simplifier relates to the consumerist mindset and spending spree that is the holiday season.
Up until not very long ago, I didn’t think much about Christmas presents. It was just something you had to do. During my London years, I used to associate the appearance of Christmas decorations in Oxford street to the daunting awareness that I had to get people stuff. Every Christmas I would fly back home with a suitcases full of presents for my friends and family, and as much as I did enjoy buying nice things for them, I also felt like this was an obligation more than a pleasure.
December 2016 was our first Christmas in New Zealand, and since we were not going home I didn’t buy any presents to my loved ones. Instead, I sent them cards that I painted myself, and wrote them letters saying that I missed them. That was the most personal gift I’ve ever given them.
I realised all I was doing was taking the values I’d normally apply to my own day-to-day life and extending them to other people. I’m all about minimising waste and simplifying my life, so obviously I wasn’t going to forget about that when it came to present-giving.
But this posed another issue: what about the presents I was going to receive? I started to dread the prospect of unwrapping a present only to find the umpteenth birthday cake-shaped hat from Ikea (yes, that’s something I’ve actually received).
My main goal this year became to avoid superficial gifts that I didn’t need. How was I going to do that? I was gonna speak up. Thanks to finding the balls to tell people what I did and didn’t want, I managed to have my first (almost) Zero Waste, conscious-consumer-oriented, kinda minimalist Christmas.
And this is what I’ve learned:

  • It’s ok to ask
    A few months prior to my return, I wrote to my family members and gave them my Christmas wish list. I knew it wouldn’t make sense to ask for no presents at all as people still feel compelled to get you something, so at least I was going to ask for things I actually wanted or needed. This may be a bit blunt but at least you won’t end up with stuff you’re never going to use.
    This also goes for wrapping paper: I’ve asked everyone to please not wrap any of my presents or to at least use old wrapping paper or whatever wrapping they had lying around. It worked!
  • Presents don’t have to be a physical thing
    Giac, for example, always asks for experiences for his birthday. This Christmas, his aunt and uncle told us to pick anything we want to do in Welly and they would pay for it – it can be anything from a theatre performance to a museum exhibition to dinner in a fancy place. That’s amazing because it’s up to us to decide, and it’s one less item we had to carry back to New Zealand in our suitcase.
  • Cashy -cashy
    If somebody really doesn’t know what to get you (and is kind enough to tell you), you can always ask for money. This obviously only applies to people you are particularly close to, but if they really won’t go for not getting you anything, in spite of you insisting, then just ask them to give you a little bit of cash – which you can use to cover some boring expenses like paying for gas or for some bills.
  • Go with someone
    My mum didn’t get me anything for Christmas. Instead, she said she would come with me to whatever shop I wanted to check out, and if I did want to buy something she would pay for it. I’m not gonna lie, it was amazing to feel this spoiled and I did end up buying a bunch of things. But at least they are all things I love! And I got to spend time with my mum 🙂

Now, you’re always going to get the odd relative who doesn’t listen to you or doesn’t understand why you have so many requirements, but that’s ok. There’s only so much you can do and you can’t demand that everyone gets where you’re coming from. Remember not to get upset (something I still struggle with) and maybe try to explain your position again to them. At least you’ll know you’ve done your part.
I actually had some really great conversations about Zero Waste with people I would have never thought would be interested in that, so another lesson I’ve learned is to never assume. People are always going to surprise you!

BACK

I’m back from Europe and, to put it nicely, I am fucked up.
I’m not handling the jetlag very well and I am emotionally discombobulated, possibly the worst combination when you wake up at 4.21am three nights in a row and you just sit there staring at the ceiling and questioning every single decision you’ve made in life.

Being home after 18 months was an interesting experience.
We flew to London and we spent our first six days there. I didn’t know what to expect, and it turned out I was an emotional wreck for the entire time.
While Giac acknowledged the importance of taking it easy, not overdoing it and following all those suggested guidelines on how to recover from the jetlag, I behaved like a complete mess. I felt like I had to do everything but I didn’t have enough time. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner was booked with friends, I had a list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do and stuff I wanted to buy. I would quite literally run from one place to another, ticking entries off my list as I progressed.

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Seeing all my friends brought tears to my eyes. It was great to catch up, to sit on a rug sipping tea and to realise that our friendship is stronger than  18,802km distance. At the same time though, I looked at them getting married, having kids and carrying on with their lives, and I couldn’t help but feeling like I’m missing out.
I hardly took any pictures – outrageous, I know – because I was too busy absorbing the London-ness of it all: caressing books in Foyles, smelling curry in Brick Lane, crying in front of relics older than New Zealand at the V&A, taking it all in.
I obviously didn’t manage to do everything I wanted to do, and on the plane to Italy I felt an incredible sense of incompleteness.

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Arriving home was way more relaxed, and I finally started sleeping and eating again – something I hadn’t been able to do since I’d left New Zealand eight days earlier.
Italy involved a whole lot of catching up with friends and family, eating good food, travelling around, and being ridiculously spoiled by my mum.

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But mostly, I felt safe.
When I lived in London, I couldn’t bare being home for longer than three days. I was so used to being self-sufficient, with my own schedule and rules, that having to adjust to my family’s routine made me freak out. This time round, though, I never wanted to leave. Those four weeks in Italy flew by, and when the time came to pack my bags the prospect of going back to the uncertainty of job-hunting-filled days in Wellington seemed daunting. As much as I enjoy my independence, I didn’t mind being looked after for a whole month, and not having to worry about a thing.
On top of this, I was so happy to be with my family again. I missed spending time with my parents, visiting my Grandpa, being able to hug them and have real conversations and do things together. I loved going for dinner with my in-laws and I wish we could hang out together on the regular instead of Skyping once a month.

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On the way back to New Zealand I cried in every single airport, on every single plane, and several times once I’d landed.
But we came back to a sunny Welly, and this morning we walked down into town at 6am and it was magical, so peaceful and quiet and beautiful I felt bad for not wanting to come back.
I realise this place is special, but it’s so freaking far away. But the point is that all the things I like about New Zealand are the way they are precisely because it’s so freaking far away.
I know that moving back to Europe wouldn’t solve anything. If I were to move back to London now I would have a very hard time readjusting to its rhythms now that I’ve seen how much slower life can be. London was a nerve-wrecking, heart-breaking, incredibly emotional trip down memory lane – but I know that I left it for a reason.
The thing is, I’m not sure where else I want to be. I wish I could live in New Zealand but have regular access to Europe every three months or so. But since this is not going to happen, all I can do is try to create myself a space where I feel happy, productive and content.
In fact, I do have some exciting projects coming up that hopefully will keep me busy for the coming months, so stay tuned if you want to know more, and in the meantime I hope everyone had a wonderful break and bring it on, 2018!

Hi all, just a heads up that I might not be blogging for a few weeks as I’m going back home for Christmas and I might not have time/will to update. I might occasionally upload but I just don’t want to commit as I’ll be on holidays and I want to focus on spending time with friends and family. I can’t wait!
Have a good break everyone 🙂

Grass For Dinneris taking a break

Zero Waste toiletry bag

I’m flying back home in eleven days and I’ve already packed three times. This is what I’m taking with me in my toiletry bag. It’s not 100% Zero Waste but getting there. I haven’t included things like soap or toothpaste as I’ll be staying with friends and family so I’ll be borrowing from them, these are just the things that I can’t do without.

The flu made me write this

I’m home sick with the flu and I’ve spent the last five hours looking at flats for rent on SpareRoom in London because I’m being nostalgic as fuck. I’m trying really hard to remember what I didn’t like about London, to resume the feeling I had towards the end of my stay, the itchiness for leaving and travelling and discovering new places, but it just doesn’t come back. I know that when we decided to move overseas I simply I couldn’t stand living in London anymore, but now that I’m here I wonder what the hell was I thinking. Here in Wellington, it feels like I’m stuck in a snow globe and I can see everything happening in the outside world but I can’t take part in it. I mean, I know a lot of shit is happening in the world and this is probably the safest place I could be and people are trying to get away from Europe and the States because of all the horrible things happening there, BUT. I liked being in the middle of everything. As much as hated commuting and Oxford Street and  overcrowded places, at least I was close to the rest of the world. I could fly home in half a day. I just watched a bunch of old videos that I made when I was in London and they reminded me of how cheap food used to be, and yes I know rent was crazy expensive and doing stuff was crazy expensive but you could easily survive on £20 of groceries a week and I could afford to buy books even on a super low wage and this image of myself keeps on coming back to my head and it’s a happy me. The most recurring one is from when I used to live in Homerton and I would cycle into town via London Fields, in the autumn fog. And then, the more I think about it, the more I realise the things I miss are the things I never had. White tiles. Wooden floors. A fancy apartment. Succulents. I have this idea of London that was never real life for me. I’ve always lived in crappy flats, shopped at Primark, had to cycle not because it was cool but because I could hardly afford a Tube monthly pass. And I know that if I were to go back to London, I would find myself in the same exact situation. It would be a thousand times harder to get a job, and I would again end up living in Zone 5 and spending the majority of my time on a jam-packed train. Yet, I long for good old Europe. I miss it. I miss my friends and family. I miss old stuff. Red brick buildings and the smell of history. I miss Broadway Market, and Victoria Park, and the houseboats on Camden canal. I miss Foyles and Paperchase. I miss Cass Art and the record stores. I miss the awareness that if anything cool had to happen in the world, it would happen right there where I was. Here, all I get is quiet and nature. Which I do like, but nothing ever freaking happens here, and I can go for walks and hikes as much as I want but that’s never going to make up for the fact that I do miss city life a freaking lot. And the fact that I’m so far away from my family is really starting to weigh on me. I’m going home in 23 days and it’s going to take me 37 hours to get there. And after a month I’ll be here again, with no idea when I’m gonna go back again. I miss my friends and family so much. In spite of all the good friends I’ve made here. This is so freaking far away.

The MBAWYAO Series – Episode Two

Disclaimer: I’m not using the word “Manifest” in its strict meaning (“the ability to convert the energy of our thoughts into a newly materialized form”). I’m using it as a way to find out what I want out of life. For more clarity, see Episode One here.

November is here – in spite of me struggling to believe it – which means December is only a month away, which means New Zealand is about to shut down. Christmas time coincides with summer holidays here down under, and during the months of December and January everything is closed and Kiwis disappear.
As a consequence I decided to take a break from sending CVs since I’m pretty sure nobody would get back to me anyway. I’m actually ok with this as I was in need of some time to figure out what I want to do with my life, which partly means trying to determine what my ideal job looks like.

Therefore, welcome to the MBAWYAO Series – Episode Two.

I wrote down a list of all the requirements that my idea job entails and the only thing I learned from it is that my ideal job is a big fat pot of contradictions. I mean, look at it:

  • No set location
  • Human interaction
  • Stable income
  • No dress code
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity

I’m not sure how this is ever going to happen. But this is the space where I let it out, just for me to define my priorities, in the hope that they will one day materialise into exactly the kind of existence I want for myself.

Anyway. My dream job doesn’t have a set location. I wake up in the morning, check the weather, and decide if I want to work outside in the garden or from a cosy café. I get bored really easily, and although I do like a bit of routine, I also need to spice things up and keep things interesting.
My dream job involves creating content. I love writing. And making zines (although I haven’t done that in a while). I’d be sitting at my computer, typing away – about veganism, Zero Waste, travelling, self love – pretty much anything I talk about on here. I’d be creating a community of people who want to talk about the same things I’m passionate about.
At the same time I’d also be able to get off my butt and go for a walk and be active any time I want. I can take a break whenever I feel like, have a day off whenever I feel like, go on holidays and take my work with me if I need the income or say fuck off for a while without the need to report to anyone.
I can wear yoga pants and flip flops or dress up if I feel like it.
In all this, I’d also have a stable income. One thing I don’t like about my current job is being paid by the hour, and never working the same amount of hours every week, and therefore never knowing how much I’m going to get paid. Having a set payday and a fixed (or at least minimum) salary gives me a sense of security.

I know what you’re thinking: get back to planet earth, young lady. Nobody has a job like that!
Well you know what? Some people do. And if I have to dream, I might as well dream big.
Now, problem is: all this seem to imply that I should be self-employed. Unless I find somebody willing to employ me and then leave me there doing my own thing. Unfortunately, I know I don’t have it in me to be my own boss. I struggle at self-motivation and absolutely suck at marketing myself.

So the solution I’ve found for the time being is writing a book.
In my head, this means that I can take my time to do the writing, then either self-publish it or even better have it published by a mega super cool publishing company, and after that I can spend the rest of my life being an acclaimed author, going on tour, writing more books, hosting book signings at Waterstones, and living off royalties. HA.
This combines me doing my own thing and somebody reminding me to do my own thing.

Now that I think about it, being a writer has always been my dream. I guess I’d temporarily gave up on it just because I am aware of how freaking hard it is to get published. But I’ve never stopped writing. And the point of this MBAWYAO Series is to figure out what’s important to me and go do it.
Hope you’ll do it too.