Let’s talk about shopping

 

It’s Cyber Monday. Check out this replay of a video I recorded this afternoon for a timely message about shopping. This is part 1 of a bigger conversation about the power of experiential spending! If you’re mulling over what to buy in the sales taking place this week… push play to hear some nuggets from my own story that translate into handy tips for getting really mindful and deliberate when planning shopping for physical goods to reap your desired emotional benefits.

An ode to discomfort

An ode to discomfortIn the spirit of Thanksgiving, this is a story about being simultaneously thankful and uncomfortable.

I’m thankful with every atom of my being to have had the opportunity to spend a mind blowing two years deeply immersed in what I experienced to be a vibrant, optimistic and forward thinking culture during my two and a bit years in NYC / America. I could go on for pages about everything it taught me, but that’s for another post.

I returned to London via Australia two and a half months ago now, and while I haven’t talked about it very openly because I always prioritise the positive (which there is so much of!), the challenges posed by reverse culture shock upon returning to your original culture after being an expat are very real. And I believe in the value of talking about our challenges openly, of being human and real together, and not just pretending everything is rainbows and butterflies 24/7.

Even a few months on, while I have a deep affection and gratitude for London and all that it offers (and I know with absolute certainty that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now!), there are still days when my soul yearns for New York. For ridiculously talented buskers spreading good vibes on the subway; for unparalleled efficiency, conciseness and dedication; for pure, unashamed, unadulterated self-expression and excitement; for strangers who converse openly with one another.

The bewildered:happy ratio when a friendly stranger talks to another stranger feels like it’s roughly 80:20 in favour of bewilderment in London, even for me, though of course those I hold dear are surely amongst the 20, whether I’m around or not! In contrast it felt, as long as you weren’t on the subway during rush hour, more like 20:80 in the opposite direction in New York for me. Nevertheless, I do recognise that it’s possible (as many of my New Yorker friends suspected) that I got special treatment in New York for my English accent, so I’m curious to know what any New Yorkers reading reckon the NYC ratio is, especially any who’ve also been to London!

During my first few weeks back in London, while it was incredible to be back in my own home again after 2 and a half years (and after switching residences almost every night in Australia!!), and there was so much about the extra tranquility and home-ness that was regenerative, the sheer disparity in my environment triggered intense reverse culture shock. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed I felt so alien. I craved sugar and dairy constantly (which I hadn’t for a long time) and found I needed 9-12 hours sleep most days, physically and emotionally exhausted for no apparent reason.

There were days where just getting up felt like a hike up a mountain. Days where my heart both emotionally and physically ached for the people and energy of NYC. More than a handful of moments where the last thing I wanted was to mingle with what felt like a population consisting of 80% aliens (and NOT by the American definition wherein aliens are tourists and immigrants!) but in the sense that I felt like they just didn’t get life. Didn’t get joy. Didn’t get what was really important (getting shit done, talking to each other, having an amazing life) and what wasn’t (complaining, taking forever to do things, being grumpy and unfriendly).

But each day I reminded myself that these feelings were part of the relocation territory. I experienced a similar sense of fatigue and overwhelm during my first few months in NYC after all. So each day, I hauled my ass out of bed, focused on all that I am blessed with and thankful for and showed up in London in my own quirky third culture way, bridging the gap between English and American, adopting my favourite habits and phrases from each to create my own Engl-ican style.

Much to my amusement, I’m continually confused for Aussie by almost every person I meet in London, English or otherwise. Where my English accent made love with what I call the American “bounce”,  a hybrid was born that somehow turned out to sound a bit Australian, even before I arrived in Australia this summer. This confusion I’m told also stems from my sheer level of confidence and openness as compared to other Londoners, traits that rubbed off on me in New York that are a lot more alien (and in some circles truly frowned upon!) here.

While some judge, most people enjoy this novelty, and each day I hold faith and trust in the power of my own ripple effect and of the increasing numbers of people cultivating these traits worldwide. They are, after all, traits that contribute to a more empowered and aligned existence, which has knock on effects on both physical and psychological wellbeing, or the alternative – malaise. I know I didn’t feel as mentally or physically healthy before I became fully expressed during my time in America.

Meanwhile I’m also more attuned to the many admirable and adorable traits of English culture I took for granted before, because I’d never known anything else. To experience two cultures so deeply is something many do not get to, and I count myself immeasurably fortunate. I also count myself lucky to be continually challenged in so many interesting ways. I am so much more adaptable than I was before I left for New York, precisely because I have been in so many situations that were so far outside my comfort zone and found ways to thrive regardless.

I have a level of serenity I just didn’t have before, and the unshakeable confidence that comes from knowing I can deal with any situation or pressure, no matter how unfamiliar or alien. This is one of the many benefits that practising the art of relocation helps you achieve – indeed the art of travel too.

As the last two months have gone by, I’ve also found it fascinating and compelling finding ways to integrate my newer beliefs, values, and identity into my “old world”, and even, creating a new world in old territory. It’s really quite magical seeing London with such different eyes, and particularly as the culture shock has faded I’ve been able to recognise ever growing quirks and perks and opportunities I never saw when I lived here before. I’ve been seeking out and attending events on a par with those I gravitated to in New York, connecting with people I never would have dreamt of before, and seeing possibilities I never envisaged. And sure enough, each day London has felt less and less different and alien than New York. For the past few weeks, getting up has started feeling a lot more natural again and I’ve felt more and more at home.

Culture shock is real, but it does get easier.

Here are four of the morals I’ve learnt along this journey that I want to share with you:

1) Every culture has its benefits, perks and quirks. The sweet spot lies in questioning what you’ve been conditioned to believe and do, and integrating your favourite bits of each culture you experience to create your own personal stamp. The feeling of freedom this will afford you is incredible. It might make you more likely to feel like a bit of an alien occasionally, but that’s ok, you’re a super-alien!

 

2) If you have the opportunity to live and work in another culture, I recommend seizing it with both hands. It’s terrifying in moments and full of challenges but few things will give you more opportunities, more potential for growth or impact you more. You’ll realise that fear is totally negotiable, and that if you give it a new name, like excitement, you can turn it into a powerful, magical force. This premise alone will blow your mind and expand your entire perception of life. You’ll also notice how much more arbitrary geographical boundaries feel, and become able to appreciate any culture without freaking out, because you no longer see in black and white. OMG look at that beautiful rainbow!

 

3) Whether or not we are aware of another’s turmoil, we’re all working through something. I’ve noticed it’s a lot more common and socially acceptable to talk about struggles openly in New York (it is the home of the phrase “the struggle is real” after all), while there’s more shame attached to doing so in London/England. Wherever you may be in the world, never assume that you are alone, or that you are weak for feeling discomfort or for expressing it. When we talk openly, more often than not our experiences are validated and normalised in powerfully healthy and healing ways. And most likely, the more discomfort you are experiencing, the more you are outside your comfort zone (whether you’ve consciously pursued it, or whether it’s been thrust upon you), which is essential if you want to achieve exponential growth.

 

4) It’s possible to be intensely grateful, thriving and outwardly successful, and really really uncomfortable AT THE SAME TIME, and it’s totally ok. Discomfort is not only ok, but when we start making peace with it, and combining it with positive emotions, rather than having a black and white happy/sad mentality, whatever discomfort we may have been feeling actually starts feel more comfortable. The key is in what we’re telling ourselves mentally about the meaning behind it, what we choose to take away and how we decide to make it part of our growth trajectory. We don’t always get to choose the situation, but we do get to choose the meaning. And we must be kind and patient with ourselves, not just each other, always.

Seeing the light

When I was in Australia, I stayed in some really magical places.

I also stayed in some really awful places. I even managed two nights in a hostel, which for someone who used to be scared of traveling at all is a pretty big deal!

One rainy night in Palm Cove, I trundled up a hill in the dark to find my hotel for the night. The reception was closed, and I had to buzz through to the back room. A man came out and handed me a key card, and told me to go down a long dark path to the very end.

I reached a room that was up two flights of stairs with no elevator (“is this real life?” My inner New Yorker asked), lugged my suitcases up (ugh) and entered. I was immediately hit with the smell of stale marijuana and damp. There was also something really iffy energetically that made me frightened, though I didn’t quite know why.

I took a deep breath and decided to go in search of dinner. I was ravenous, plus these things are always easier to handle after a good meal, right? I walked down a dark alley to the promenade and ordered a thai green curry, something that always warms my bones and soul no matter how I’m feeling. Not fully thinking, I ordered it to go. I changed my mind after placing the order and asked if I could stay. The server said it was too late, because the pricing was different, and told me I had to leave.

I found a picnic table on the beach front in the pouring rain, eating this green curry, laughing to myself at the ups and downs of travel and life, and what they were here to teach me (- to be serene and optimistic no matter what!).

When I was done, I attempted to find my way back to this hotel. It was pitch black, the rainstorm was still powering on, and I got completely lost. I was shivering and genuinely scared at this point. I managed to find my way back to the beachfront and ran into the nearest hotel and asked if by chance they had any rooms left.

A warm and vibrant lady asked me what my budget was. I explained I’d already paid for a room for the night elsewhere, but that it was awful, and I really didn’t want to stay there. She had one room left. She asked me what I could afford. I told her. She explained that she too was a traveller, and she felt for me, and the room was mine. She even went so far as to drive me to the grimy hotel in her own car, helping me collect my luggage and returning me safely to my new room in this beautiful beachfront establishment. I was blown away.

When we returned, the rainstorm was still going strong, and I was still wearing flip flops from the sunshine earlier in the day. As I lugged one of my suitcases up the steps into this beautiful little abode, my flip flops fell off my feet through the steps and into the bushes below. Neither of us could stop laughing at the perfect imperfection of this quirky and serendipitous evening – we cried with laughter. We ended up talking for three hours while she manned the front desk, alternating between profound existential musings and pure laughter.

A couple of days later, we went to a yoga class together. On the way back, she told me to jump on her bicycle handlebars so we could go for a ride. I laughed and hesitated for a moment, before deciding that there was something so magical about this girl that she might well be able to suggest I jump off a cliff with her into the ocean and I’d at least consider it.

We rode along the promenade just absolutely loving life, laughing uncontrollably while tourists looked on in amusement. We went on to share a truly epic thai dinner (clearly well earned from yoga and cycling), and a couple of days later she came with me further down the coast for a mini-adventure in Mission Beach as I prepared for my skydive.

Seeing the light

A few weeks later, I was ready to return to London. I hadn’t seen my kiwi goddess since our Mission Beach adventure but we were flying in and out of the same airport on the same morning. Actually I was supposed to be gone already, but there’d been a cock up with my flight, so I got held up. As fate would have it, we were at the airport at the same time. We got to share a coffee and a hug and we both had a feeling we’d see each other very soon, though we didn’t know how or where.

We just knew and trusted, just like we trusted in each other’s energy when we first met.

We kept in touch regularly and four months on, this lovely lady just arrived in London and is now my new housemate. We knew back then that we had more adventures coming together, we didn’t know when for a while, we just knew. And now she’s here! We’ve been laughing about our Aussie adventures and are now looking forward to sharing London adventures together.

Do you have a story where you followed your intuition and something magical happened? Or a sticky situation out of which an unexpected friendship blossomed? Do share!!

 

 

Curbing chocolate cravings

When we’re consuming junk, we develop an addiction cycle where our bodies continue to crave it. However, when we start detoxifying our bodies, we start to be able to hear our true cravings. At this point, we begin to recognize that our bodies are craving what we’re lacking.

If you’re craving chocolate, it can be a sign of sugar addiction, especially if you haven’t cut down on/detoxed from sugar either for a while or ever. (I’ll cover this more in a separate post.) But, whether you’re addicted to sugar or not, chocolate cravings can also be a hint your body’s low on magnesium. Dark chocolate especially is a good source of magnesium, so your body might tell you that you need it. But it’s not the only source, you can satisfy the root of the craving with multiple options: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocado, bananas for example, as well as topping up with magnesium supplements. If you’re in doubt about your vitamin levels or concerned about deficiencies, it’s worth asking your doctor for a nutrition blood test, especially if you’ve never had one before.

I never used to like mushrooms, as a child I decided they were far too similar to slugs for my liking. But we developed a friendship last year, and now I love them dearly! And I’ve noticed I’ve been craving them the last few weeks. Why? They’re an amazing source of vitamin D and it’s dark right now for many of us so we’re getting less vitamin D naturally from the sunlight. I’ve been taking supplements but nothing beats the real stuff.

Our bodies are so smart.

What food are you craving right now?

We’re hypnotized daily

We're hypnotized daily“Everybody gets high sometimes you know, what else can we do when we’re feeling low?”

Well, funny you should ask Justin Bieber. We can go for a run, a walk, do yoga, talk to a loved one, listen to an epic podcast, cook ourselves a great meal, meditate, snuggle with our pets or love, get an early night, watch a great movie. There are literally a million things we can do when we’re feeling low that are approximately 4000 times more effective and holistically nourishing than getting high.

Here’s a definition of hypnosis:

“A temporary condition of altered attention in the subject which may be induced by another person and in which a variety of phenomena may appear spontaneously or in response to verbal or other stimuli. These phenomena include alterations in consciousness and memory, increased susceptibility to suggestion, and the production in the subject of responses and ideas unfamiliar to him in his usual state of mind. (British Medical Association, 1955)

Many people would agree that when they’re deeply engrossed in a song or television show or film, they recognise themselves as being in a trance like state, where they lose their awareness of other stimuli around them, and are almost at one with the media they’re consuming in that moment. We may also find ourselves singing a song in a moment wherein the lyrics correspond strongly with what we’re feeling, without even thinking about it consciously until we’re already in the midst.

While hypnosis and media both have in common that we cannot fully assimilate suggestions unless at some level, however subconscious that may be, we choose to do so, we are often inadvertently being hypnotized by the music and media we consume. This makes me a little frustrated because, taking music as just one example, this particular song (Cold Water) is really catchy, and honestly I rather like(d) it. But since I fully processed the lyrics, I stopped enjoying it because I don’t really want to hypnotise my subconscious to believe that taking drugs when feeling low is normal!

Like many songs, it could be just as compelling with less destructive lyrics, so why embed it with such suggestions? To me, it’s on a par with stage hypnotists manipulating people to dance like chickens. It might seem funny but in reality it’s unethical and dangerous, especially in the presence of vulnerable minds, young or old.

Of course, self discipline and self restraint are key factors in the decision making process for anyone in an adequate state of mind, but two facts remain. Firstly, the subconscious is an extremely powerful force not to be underestimated. Secondly, many are not in an adequate state of mind to differentiate between their subconscious and conscious desires. If someone acts on JB’s recommendations and they’re not in a frame of mind where they’re able to make a fully conscious thought out decision, who’s to blame?

I’m pretty liberal in general, but knowing the power of the subconscious the issue of lyrics promoting violence, drug use and other antisocial behaviour troubles me. Nevertheless, my primary takeaway for you is this. Whatever you believe in and stand for, I encourage you to consume media mindfully and in alignment with your goals and vision. Cull anything which doesn’t align. There’s so much great content out there, including great songs with positive lyrics, make them count.

 

What’s your “type”?

What's your "type"?I haven’t been asked this question in quite some time, but it was posed to me today.

If you’d asked me three years or more ago my answer would have been completely different. With my mindset now, honestly, I’m embarrassed by what my criteria used to be, and not only that, but I cringe to think about how much magic I missed out on as a result. So it was interesting to notice the difference in my response to this question today. Initially I laughed and said I don’t have a type. Then I explained that what matters to me above all is that a person is present, passionate, driven, yet mellow, open-minded, liberal and funny, but that most other details are peripheral as far as I’m concerned and don’t determine whether I’m drawn to someone or not.

In contrast, here’s what my type was for a while, circa 2012/13. I write this reluctantly and with a hint of nausea at my own former narrow mindedness. 6″2 or above, white, middle class, educated at a red brick university and not in a “fluffy” subject, strong and secure (boring) job, own property. Why, old Jaimie, why would you do this?! (More on that in a second.)

It’s ok, I forgive old me. But here’s what’s cool about the evolution of my “criteria”. It’s liberating. When we think about things in terms of checkboxes and restrictive criteria, we narrow our view, we narrow the opportunities that appear available to us, and we experience a narrower slice of the deliciousness that is life. Expanding – or even abandoning – set criteria sets us free to go with whatever feels right in the moment. This applies to any context, dating or otherwise.

What’s also liberating to recognise, is that my previous criteria wasn’t a reflection of who I really am or what I really want, it was a reflection of what my family told me I should have. My grandma still nudges me jokingly today about finding a nice white british husband. So many of our beliefs and thought processes are inherited through generations, educational and professional surroundings etc, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to re-evaluate. We can pick and choose what resonates with us and leave what doesn’t.

When we’re in the space of set criteria and rules, we’re coming from our head and closing off our heart space, and there is SO much wisdom in our heart. When I had unhelpfully specific criteria, I’d find reasons not to spend time with people based on very little evidence, rather than giving them a chance, then I’d wonder where all my glorious options were! Um, duh. I was also totally detached from my heart space and all the love and wisdom that lies there that I now have access to.

Here are a few other examples of disempowering criteria when it comes to the opportunities truly in front of us. Note, they don’t simply have to apply to others, this type of thinking is inextricably bound with your perceived potential for yourself too. Some of these are things I genuinely believed at some point in the past! Others are things my clients have believed in the past.

– My future partner has to be 6″4
– I can only date someone who works in finance/law and lives in South West London, zone 2(!!!!)
– I’m only attracted to people who are white.
– I can only work in marketing.
– I only want to work for multinational corporations.
– I’m only qualified to be an accountant.
– I’m only worth what I’m being paid right now.
– I can’t be an entrepreneur, I’m an employee.
– I don’t have time.
– I can’t have it all.
– I have to show up looking perfect or not at all (this one held me back from SO many events in the past and is total BS – showing up in your most vibrant energy is the most attractive thing you can do, whether or not you got dressed an hour ago or this morning!)
– I’m just not that confident/smart/[insert other adjective].
– I only like warm holidays.
– I only want to take beach vacations.

One of the ways to start diverting this thinking to a more empowering and beneficial place is to sit down with yourself and get super clear on what REALLY matters to you and what you stand for. Be really honest with yourself, and try and forget about what other people think for a moment. Try and suspend judgment about yourself too – everyone’s different. Own who you are, and your personal preferences, but be prepared to challenge yourself relentlessly in order to get to the core of why. Start by asking yourself some questions.

Let’s say for example, you’re thinking about dating and right now you feel like your type is men who wear bowties every day. What is it about the bowtie that excites you? Is it the gentlemanliness? If so, what is it about gentlemanliness that compels you? How does it make you feel? What else/what other traits/behaviors make you feel that way? Do bow-tie wearing and gentlemanliness really correlate? Can you come up with a different more open minded version of that piece of criteria to replace it? One that allows you be open to more of the amazing population?!

Example 2: you’re really attracted to people with a specific job title. Why? What is it about that title that’s so compelling to you? Could it be deeper than you think, and could you switch it out for the character trait it aligns with it? Let’s say your type is “teachers”. What is it about teaching that you admire? How could it translate to other careers? How might you be able to screen for it as a trait in a wider audience? And (this is my favorite question here) what could it be telling you about an unfulfilled talent within you?

Example 3: you feel like you’d love to be an [insert job title you don’t have right now]. Trust your intuition. What skills do you need to be good at that new job? Do you have them? If not, what skills are you using right now? How might they transfer to the new ones? What can you do to acquire or cultivate the new ones and get a foot in the door into the new field? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can bridge the gap before you leap.

I’m curious, do you agree with me about types and box thinking? What’s your “type” in dating, jobs or holidays? What do you notice about how it’s evolved over time?

Just remember, the thing is never about the thing. And so much more is possible for you than you might think right now. For help expanding your openness and liberating your thinking, reserve your free 60 minute session in my calendar using the pink “Book Me” button.