How I'm taking control of my finances in January

At the end of January, I went for my second ever tarot reading. If you are wondering how I go from spending money on a tarot reading in December to saving money in January…I promise I’m going somewhere with this!

My tarot reading (at This Magic Life in San Francisco) was mostly focussed on my job and my upcoming change to my role, to take on my dream role working 100% on Diversity & Inclusion. To my surprise, during the reading the theme of money came up, and the tarot reader told me that I was going to get my finances in order in 2019. She told me I would be spending time getting everything in order, I’d get my ducks in a row, and it was going to help me to become richer, it would be good in the end.

I was really interested by this because it wasn’t something I had on my plan, but I had been mentioning to my boyfriend the possibility of me seeing a financial advisor about saving to buy a house one day. I forgot about it for the most part, until I found myself on Jan 2nd with an urge to go through my December statements and do an ‘audit’ of my spending.

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Exhausted? Me too

If you haven’t read this article about Millennial Burnout yet by by Anne Helen Peterson, I highly recommend you block 30 minutes in the diary, make your hot drink of choice (i’m obsessed with caffeine-free and adrenal friendly Rasa Koffee), put on some comfy socks and put up your (imaginary or real) Do Not Disturb sign. Like so many others who read the piece last week, I felt like it accurately described the pressure I feel to get everything done and always show up, that often leaves me feeling utterly depleted, like a sad, deflated balloon. Peterson argues that I feel this way because I am a millennial who grew up taught that I need to ‘win the system’ that requires us to work endless hours and be constantly competing with those around us. The result of being a millennial and graduating in the midst of the financial crisis, she argues, is that we are all suffering from burn-out. We spend so much of our time in our own private battle with perfectionism that even the tiniest tasks create a heavy emotional overhead on us and so our response is simply to never do them - she mentions registering to vote, writing back to friends and returning unwanted items to the store as jobs that remain in our never-ending, infinite to-do lists.

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Power and how to use it

I’ve been thinking a lot about power this week. It’s a funny thing, power: when we have it we often have no appreciation or awareness of it but when we don’t have it, we can feel like our whole existence is undermined. In the work that I’m doing, focused on Diversity and Inclusion in Silicon Valley, I hear a lot of stories - from friends, from colleagues and from strangers. The content is always wildly different, the facts of the matter often intricate and varied, but the central forces at play are always the same - someone had power and someone did not.

This week, someone at work who wants to join our volunteer-based efforts described the group of leaders that I am a part of as ‘intimidating.’ I felt myself baulk: How can I possibly be intimidating? Sure, I am often in rooms with very senior people, but I myself am not particularly senior, so I can’t possibly be intimidating…right? This tactic of denial is common when a light is shone on a position of privilege, whether it be through our race, our gender, our seniority, our class status, our education, our sexual orientation or any other number of identifiers (check out this eye-opening list which allows you to examine the varied ways in which we can experience privilege).

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Cinnamon Raisin Doughnuts - Vegan, Sugar-free and Gluten-free

I spent Christmas Day in Novato, Marin - about 45 minutes north of San Francisco with my boyfriends’s Dad, Step-mum and step-sister. I knew that food would be a big part of the day, and I discussed with my boyfriend beforehand what the menu would look like as my dietary requirements of no sugar & soy can be tricky to navigate. He told me that it was tradition for his Dad to bake cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast, and my mouth watered at the prospect! I knew it would be tough for me to make do with just cereal while everyone sunk their teeth into warm sugary rolls, so I went on the hunt for a sugar-free alternative.

Luckily I found this recipe from Clean Eats by Tay, that I modified to make vegan (as I didn’t fancy the eggs), and I also subbed out the Kite Hill Yoghurt she used as it does contain sugar unfortunately (I included my sugar-free alternative below, but directions all the same).

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My first sugar-free Christmas - Sugar free mince pies!

Four months ago I finally got answers to the conundrum that has been my declining health. After over a year of self-imposed lifestyle changes that included a vegan, gluten-free and alcohol-free diet, I finally received my test results from the naturopath that told me that I intolerances to foods that I was yet to remove from my diet, namely sugar (white and brown sugar) and soy, as well as a very pesky combination intolerance of grain + potato. Which means that this holiday season, I’ll be sugar free for the first time in my life.

I love candy, chocolate and ice cream, so cutting the sugar has not been that enjoyable, however for the most part I’ve been able to avoid feeling like I’m missing out through gravitating towards naturally sweet foods like fruit and honey and experimenting with baking with other sugars like coconut sugar or agave. However as the Holiday period ramped up, I felt a pang of FOMO as I watched my boyfriend and my friends demolish Christmas treats like Mince Pies and galaxy milk chocolate (imported from England).

I turned to google, wondering if sugar-free mince pies were possible, and was pleasantly surprised when I found this recipe that required no refined sugar or brandy, as I begrudge buying a bottle of booze to use for mince pies only for it to sit in a cupboard gathering dust. I made a few amendments to the recipe, so I’ll list below what I used.

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My Health Journey so far - Week 8

My intention to update my blog every week did not go to plan :) As usual right?! The last few months have been a real rollercoaster of emotions as I’ve tried to find a diet and lifestyle that works for me. I want to feel well, I want to have energy and be full of life and also I really want to not have to worry about what my skin looks like.

Anyone who suffers from acne or a skin condition knows that it can take a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing; the energy spent researching remedies and products to improve it, the worrying about how you will look in photos or at a big event, the hours of researching health issues that might be causing it - it all adds up and can become a big part of your life. That is how I’ve felt at times the last few months and I look forward to a time when I won’t wake up and one of the first things I question is what kind of state is my face in today.

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Emotional and Physical Detox - Week 3

Where is the time going? Week 3 since my last visit to the naturopath where I found out about my intolerances to Soy and Sugar. The last week has had some emotional and physical highs and lows. It feels like my skin is freaking out, which I couldn’t understand because surely after 2 - 3 weeks of no sugar or soy I thought I would be starting to see benefits (if only life was that easy!) I spent the first half of the week really worried about my skin as I had a big wedding coming up at the weekend that would involve me spending a lot of time with my friends and being around cameras and having to be in photos…something that causes me a lot of anxiety when my skin is bad. Although I my skin was getting worse and worse through the week, somewhere along the way I really made an effort to try and release myself from the worry and stress. I confided how I was feeling to my boyfriend and my close friends and that helped. I read a book this week called “Skin Picking: The freedom to final stop” — I would highly recommend this book to anyone suffering from obsessive skin picking like me. The book made me feel really understood for the first time ever and has some great practical tips for stopping (including covering your mirrors which I finally did properly — see photo). I have already devoured the book once and now will be re-reading it again more slowly.

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Two steps forward one step back - Week 2

Week 2 update on my healing journey has been a little mixed. I was starting to feel better at the beginning of the week, finding space and motivation for yoga and making lots of healthy meals. Then after a few busy and stressful days at work PLUS the arrival of my period I was really feeling low, lost and overwhelmed. Although my Naturopath has told me not to worry too much about the Candida yet, as we are focussing on getting my diet stable after removing my intolerances of Sugar + Soy, I couldn’t help but read up this week on the foods to avoid when trying to cure Candida. That led me down a rabbit hole of overwhelming information that seemed to suggest I can’t eat ANYTHING (that’s an overreaction but that’s how I was feeling).

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Learning to ask for help - Week 1 of my new healing journey

It’s been 6 months since my last post and a lot has changed in that time! I wanted to resurrect my blog to help me to track my journey with my health as I have recently started working with a Naturopath who is helping me to get to the bottom of my health issues.

Starting at the beginning, here is a short summary of my symptoms:

Cystic Acne (since age 13) — IBS / Gut issues (since age 20) — Anxiety — Depression — Fatigue

In my quest to cure myself naturally, after moving to California in 2016 I decided to switch my diet to a Vegan/Plant-based diet (although still including honey). In 2018 after having a few weeks of recurring Cystic acne again, despite my vegan diet, I also committed to being Gluten-free, which resulted in a cupboard clear out of all my pastas and processed foods that contained gluten. It probably goes without saying that this diet felt really restrictive and I can only credit my friends and new boyfriend for being so understanding as I tried to heal myself. However, when another bout of acne came, coupled with debilitating stress, anxiety and fatigue after receiving a big promotion at work and much more responsibility, I knew I needed help.

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Cannabis Oil and my anxiety

This is a post I wrote for Gather, an amazing online space focussed on women's stories.

Early one Saturday morning I found myself in Grass Roots, a marijuana dispensary on Polk Street in San Francisco. I am not a person well-versed in the area, so I was feeling out of my comfort zone. However, I’d been hearing a lot of talk in the health space about CBD oil and I was intrigued; could there really be something out there that’s plant-based, ‘safe’ and helpful in those moments when anxiety rears its ugly head?

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An Icelandic Adventure

I've had Iceland on my travel list for a while but I was worried about how popular it's become and how expensive it's supposed to be. But in the end my desire to see it for myself led me to booking a ticket from London to Reykjavik on my last trip back to the UK. I had the joy of traveling with my Mum and my little Brother which felt amazing after a string of solo trips recently.

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