Monthly Archives: August 2015

Stories I loved this week.

  
Photo by Todd Quackenbush

Roll up, roll up, it’s the August Bank holiday weekend! I will forever associate this weekend with not only the end of summer, but Notting Hill Carnival and good times. We’re going to head over to Carnival on Sunday, which is Children’s Day, armed with some ear defenders for little J and loads of patience. Here’s hoping the weather holds out.

I really related to this piece. I’ve had quite a few super intense female friendships in my life and have found, certainly in the last two years, that I simply can’t handle the intensity and have pulled back. It’s almost like my brain has prioritised how much emotional energy I have to give out. (The Pool)

Is it ever worth not knowing the truth? (Aeon)

Oh dear. Will there be a kale crisis? (Guardian)

Lots of lovely smoothie popsicle recipes for the end of summer. (Bon Appetit)

Still loving Nom Nom Paleo’s cracklin’ chicken recipe. (Nom Nom Paleo)

7 fermented foods you should be eating. (Well + Good) 

A real laugh out loud piece. This writer would never date a man who didn’t like Beyoncé. (Guardian)

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Florian Klauer

It’s the end of another week and I’m inching closer to my holiday in Formentera. I really can’t wait. I’ve been devouring everything I can about this island (these Conde Nast guides are quite good) and I’m so looking forward to swimming in the clear waters and walking along the white sands. Apparently, it’s very much like the Caribbean and the sunsets are supposed to be magical.

An eye-opening look into Amazon’s working culture. (New York Times)

Sweet. A complete oral history of Bring It On. (MTV)

I loved this opinion piece from a woman who made a conscious decision to run the London Marathon with no tampon. Honest and brave. (Grazia)

Seems obvious, but very true. You don’t need a gym membership to get fit. (Guardian)

Fascinating piece that posits that Americans are effectively giving up their right to walk. (Aeon)

Totally relate this to this article about eating out with kids. “Above all else, we want everything immediately – table, menu, food, bill. We’re here for a good time, not a long time, and if we’re all done and dusted within the hour, it’s better for everyone since it can all go wrong on the fling of a chip.” (Guardian)

Enjoyed this piece by one of the founders of Facebook talking about the importance of both working hard and living a great life. (Medium)

What I’m reading: Overwhelmed

 

My summer of reading continues, with the excellent Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte. Chock-full of information, research and case studies about gender roles at work, home, love and play, this book, predominantly aimed at women, dissects why so many of us feel so overwhelmed and frazzled so much of the time.

I have to admit that the first chapter made me feel a bit anxious and panicky as I was reading it. Brigid runs through all the ways she feels stuck in what she calls, ‘the overwhelm’, that state of not having enough hours in the day to accomplish the endless to-list that comes with having a busy work and family life. She describes in forensic detail, how much she has to do, how late she stays up to accomplish some of what’s on her to do list and the endless guilt she carries around with her. It struck me how much she was trying to accomplish on her own and how much long-term resentment she held against her husband for not being more of an equal partner at home.

I could relate to the stories of being a busy parent, trying to fit everything into the day. What I couldn’t relate to was the endless guilt. Guilt about not working enough, guilt about not being there enough for her children – so much guilt. This guilt that mothers tie themselves up in knots about, that creates this endless worry and anxiety. There’s a great quote from one of the expert the book, Terry Monaghan, who says, “so much of our overwhelm comes from unrealistic expectations…and when we don’t meet them, we think we’re doing something wrong.” It’s this unnecessary pressure that we put on ourselves.

A large section of the book is devoted to unpacking the relationship that men and women have with work, how both genders would generally like to work in a more flexible way, but how the the myth of the ‘ideal worker’ – the person who is always available to take meetings, jump on a plane, stay late – can hold people and companies back from making real change. The benchmark, the country that seems to have it all figured out in this area is Denmark, where couples share parental leave, overtime is frowned upon and people maximise their leisure time as much as possible. When I read some of the case studies of American women and maternity leave, I realised how good we have it in here in the UK and in Europe. A strong parental leave policy backed by government subsidised and regulated child care means that women can spend longer with their babies with generally good childcare options to fall back on.

Brigid talks a lot about the ambivalence that American mothers tend to have around work. Towards the end of the book, she realises that she “would never be able to schedule [her] way efficiently out of the overwhelm. [She] had to face [her] own ambivalence about trying to live two clashing ideals at once.”  She realises that she has to figure out how to embrace her own life with passion, in the face of ambiguity. I really relate to this. I admit that I still feel some ambivalence about being back at work, despite being freelance and really enjoying what I’m doing. I feel torn about putting my son in nursery, despite me knowing that for his three days a week there, he has a great time and has made some lovely little pals. Before reading this book, I thought this ambivalence was a natural part of being a mother – wanting the best of both worlds.

It’s clear that it’s time to let go of this ambivalence and start fully enjoying what I have and that I am privileged to be able to make my own choices – the choice to freelance part-time, to study towards my dream career part-time and to have two full days with my son to myself in the week.

 

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Michael Hull

How has your week been? Since we booked a short break to Formentera in September, I’ve been dreaming of white sands, Spanish wine and fresh seafood. I cannot wait for this lovely holiday and really feel like holidays have become so precious since my son was born. I love the opportunity to spend long stretches of time with my little family, eating, exploring and chilling out, away from the hustle and bustle of London life.

7 things you’re doing wrong in spin class and how to fix them. Definitely guilty of #2 and #4. (Well + Good)

An amazing profile of Serena Williams. (The Cut)

Really excited about Mayim Bialik’s new website, Grok Nation. I may not agree with everything she writes, but I love her honest, intelligent and straightforward style. And I love this analysis of the site versus other celebrity lifestyle sites here. (Lainey Gossip)

Six great tips on how to keep healthy on a budget. Abel & Cole is a great option in the UK for inexpensive organic fruit and veg. (The Chalkboard)

Mexico bans free baby formula to increase low breastfeeding rates. This is important, as fomula marketing has become very unethical in its subversive and repeated undermining of breastfeeding. (The Guardian)

I love the idea of yoga in schools and seeing benefits in children’s self-regulation, attention and fitness. I recently learned that my 2 year old son has been practicing yoga at nursery, to my utter awe and delight. (Goop)

I’m currently phoneless (dropped my phone in the my loo by mistake!) so this made me laugh a lot and made me realise how much I pull my phone out for no real reason. l(New Yorker).

What I’m reading: Unprocessed

 

It’s so nice to get back into the swing of reading. I just finished reading Unprocessed by Megan Kimble and found it utterly inspiring. The book is half-memoir, half fact-finding mission, which made it a very compelling read.

The book is divided into twelve chapters, each covering a specific type of food or food process – meat, dairy, wheat, refrigeration, eating out and so on. Each chapter is chock full of eye opening insights and information, that surprised even a food and nutrition junkie like me. What I loved most about this book were the insights that Megan peppered throughout the book about how eating in an unprocessed way was making her feel, physically and emotionally. She acknowledges the emotional ties we have to food and how difficult it can be to dramatically change eating habits. Her honesty is refreshing.

In that regard, Unprocessed is a big departure from the food and nutrition books I usually read, that are science based and a full of short case studies. A breath of fresh air actually, to look at nutrition and food in a different way.

As I began reading this book, I happened upon an article on ‘processed food’ by Jay Rayner, that ended up being a bit of a straw man. I had this cynicism about ‘processed food’ in my mind when I started Unprocessed. Happily, Megan sets out what she means by ‘processed’ on page 2, stating, “today, the work ‘processed’ refers to the adulterated foods – foods that have been shifted and shaped into packages that are not better, not for us or for the earth. All foods are processed, but if we understand the difference between an apple and a bag of Chex Mix – and we do – and if the space between the two matters for the health of our bodies and the environment – and it does – then the question of what makes a food too processed also matters.” An open, honest and optimistic definition.

It’s interesting where Megan lands, at the end of her year long unprocessed journey. It’s a similar place that many people who do food challenges or strict eating patterns, such as vegan or paleo, get to after a while. She starts from a strict unprocessed ‘dogma’, where she had been trying to unprocess everything, including making her own sea salt (!)  and butchering her own meat. At the end of her year, she ends up in a more moderate place, concluding after her many food experiments, including grinding her own flour (!), that the best approach is that one that is tailored to you and your lifestyle, “the messy middle”, as she puts it. This balanced approach acknowledges eating as much whole, unprocessed food as possible, with the reality of eating out, social relationships and the fact that life happens and unless you have life threatening allergies, you need to just make the most of whatever situation you happen to be.

Such a great read and I can’t wait see what she does next!

Stories I loved this week.

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Photo by Pineapple

How was your week? I spent the first part of the week getting back of the UK swing of things, only to be struck down with food poisoning on Wednesday. Bah humbug. Happily, it wasn’t too bad, I’m back to myself, ready to enjoy a weekend of hanging out in London and enjoying the summer sun.

Even though I hate the term ‘mom-preneur’ (why not just entrepreneur?), this is a sweet article about 4 women who have their own businesses and are also mothers to young children. (My Domaine)

Really enjoying having a read through Mother – a website for women, who wear many hats, including mother. And here’s a lovely piece on how Danish mothers (and fathers!) teach their children empathy. (Mother)

How rich people raise rich kids. Attitudes towards money matters a lot. (The Atlantic)

I’m so happy that there is a mainstream conversation happening about miscarriages. The stigma needs to go away. (Telegraph)

What happens to your body an hour after drinking a can of Coke and a can of Diet Coke.

Changing ambition.

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Photo by Tyssul Patel

The lovely Katie over at beNourishd included a very intriguing opinion piece about women’s ambition in her weekly link round up that really got me thinking.

Emma Barnett, the women’s editor at the Telegraph posits that “women are losing custody of their ambition – and they don’t even know it.” To make this point, she talks through four subtle categories of behaviour that ‘lead women all over the world to lose custody of their ambition – often without realising”.

  1. Poisonous Presumptions: the reductive presumptions that are made about women at work, i.e. that women are opting out.
  2. Nice Guy Misogyny: the nice guys that I’m sure quite a few of us have worked for that typically have a wife / partner that stays home, so don’t have a relatable model of a working woman in their lives, hence, some very outdated views.
  3. Dumb Denial: when people can’t or won’t see that there is a problem with gender equality / representative in their respective workplace.
  4. The Imitation Game: when women don’t accept or fight for a fairer partnership at home.

She concludes by saying that “we can learn to sense the intangible bias that can eventually grind women down and lead us to lose custody of our ambition…[and] win it back.”

I found this viewpoint extremely interesting, yet very representative of a certain type of woman that is focused on moving up the corporate ladder with a singular ambition. What I wrote in the comments on Katie’s blog post  was I felt that Emma Barnett didn’t acknowledge that ambition changes. She says that she wanted “to think about ambition in a broader sense”, when really what she refers to is a very corporate ambition, without looking at the bigger picture.

For many women (and men!), it’s not that they are losing custody of their ambition, but that they are choosing a different sort of ambition. This ambition is motivated by the desire for a more well-rounded life that leaves room for good quality time with children, time for hobbies, a rich spiritual life.

This type of ambition is a shift from the relentless move up the corporate ladder at any cost, to choosing the type of life you want and designing your ambition to achieve this life. In my twenties, I was intent on doing everything I could to move up the corporate ladder, getting promotions and changing companies to achieve this ambition. The cost of this was poor health, endless hours at work and on my Blackberry and weaker connections with friends and family.

With the birth of my son, my ambitions for my life and my family life changed. I wanted to be more present and do something that would have a long term benefit for me and my family. My motivations changes and now my ambition is to become a naturopath.

How have your ambitions changed after big life events? Do you want the same things for your life?