Sunday, 30 January 2011

A Walk in Hyde Park

For probably the first time since moving to Notting Hill, my husband and I took an afternoon walk through Hyde Park today. We are regulars of the park however, as today proved, all we really had known of it was the sub 5-mile perimeter that we zoom through on our morning or weekend runs. (I may have exaggerated on the "zoom" bit)

To have had a leisurely stroll through the park today was like opening a window to a new world. I loved seeing things that I've missed during those runs and now have a new appreciation for the gorgeous gardens that exist on my doorstep.

The Lake

Lovely swan who kindly stopped fidgeting to let me take a picture!

Monument of Prince Albert

Royal Albert Hall

Cool piece of art in the middle of the park

Just another one of life's little reminder's to stop every once in awhile, take a look around, really take it all in, and to be very thankful for the beauty that surrounds us.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

My Daily Reminders

As a sort of New Year's Resolution, my husband and I are trying to go to the movies together one night during the working week.

Last week our movie of choice was 127 Hours, a story which begins with incredible stupidity and ignorance but, over the course of the film, changes into a lesson of perseverance, humility and an excruciating hunger for life. We are taken on a (true story) journey through the eyes of a young man called Aron, played by James Franco, who, while on a solo expedition in Utah, finds himself trapped in an isolated canyon with his arm pinned against the wall by a fallen boulder. This crazy hunger to save his life grows over the 5 days we, the audience, spend with him. We watch his mood go from one of desperation and fear to delerium, defeat and finally to a furor of ambition which drives him to snap his forearm, dislocate his elbow and amputate the lower half of his arm with a dull army knife.

While watching Aron's transformation of moods and mindset, we also play witness to numerous "visits" from his mom, dad, sister, friends, old girlfriend and unborn son. The people who meant the most in his life and who, ultimately, give him an entirely new one. These are the people, not the things, that drove Aron to physically remove a part of his body, without the use of anesthesia, the expertise of doctors or the "convenience" of a sharp object.

If you've read any of my blog, I'm sure you can eventually tell that I continually try to find the relevance of an experience, message, opportunity or even a movie, within my own life.

It also got me thinking about my favourite book in the world and one I've read at least 6 times, called "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. The book chronicles the true story of a Jewish doctor during his time as an inmate in Auschwitz concentration camp, and describes his method of finding a reason to live through the tortures of daily life. According to the author, the book is meant to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?"

The major take away for me after reading the book was Frankl's personal struggle as a prisoner and his motivation to live and ultimately survive camp...his wife. Not knowing if she had been murdered on Day 1 or was still alive and suffering the same punishments he was had no impact on his motivation to live. It was the mere thought of her- how he remembered her in his mind and in his heart- that kept him going, kept him fighting through the torturous "death walks,", the rampant disease and the mental anguish that was bestowed on the prisoners living in that hell on earth. He concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; that life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death.

Frankl's story has been a constant source of insight and inspiration for me. It sheds light on many problems, circumstances and opportunities that we, as human beings, naturally go through in the course of our own lives. Mostly, it provides a strong reminder of how lucky I am, how much I have to be thankful for, and forces me to reflect on whether I'm living this life to the fullest.

In this instance, I left the theatre thinking about what drives me. "If I was in Aron's position, what would I do?" or "Who would I think of?""How would I do things differently if I were given a 2nd chance?" I promised myself that I would call my mom every week when I said I would, that I would give my husband a hug every time he did something that bothered me rather than "nagging" him to fix it and that I'd pursue that entrepreneurial idea that will make us millions... first thing tomorrow morning!

But while these are genuinely amazing sources of "wake up calls," how long do they stay with us? How long should they stay with us? Do we need to think of them as daily reminders, or is there actually a genuine nature about us that drives us to do the good or right thing?

I think the answer to those questions are completely subjective. Personally, what they have done for me is to create an awareness of the things that I may otherwise take for granted in daily life. These are the things that continually stimulate and satisfy my appetite for living. The birds chirping outside my window in the morning, the vivid green of the grass in London (a positive result of the many rainy days!), a "see you later" kiss from my husband, the mere fact that I can wake up, put my feet on the ground and walk by myself, without any one person or machine to help me. That I can speak with freedom and confidence, that I am loved and that I love the people who surround me. These are my daily reminders. They are why I fall in love with life each and every day...

..although a little reminder every now and then never hurts.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Black Swan

I had the privilege of attending a press preview of Black Swan this past week in London. After reading various reviews about it and remembering those reporting on how grotesque and psychologically thrilling it was, I admittedly was nervous when the lights went down in the Covent Garden Hotel theatre.

As the opening scene began, I found myself totally transported into the world of Nina, a vulnerable, self mutilating, obsessive compulsive ballerina played brilliantly by Natalie Portman, whose emotionally deranged mother keeps her "sweet girl" hidden from the world with a bedroom full of stuffed animals, bubblegum pink walls and obsessive phone calls. As the movie progresses, we see Nina win the role of Swan Queen in her company's production of Swan Lake.

With her inner "white swan" perfected, I became completely immersed in Nina's rollercoaster ride of letting her inner "black swan" loose. This achievement plunges Nina deeper into her already quite dark world where there is no equilibrium, no moments of calm or ease. I found myself constantly on the edge of my seat, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Although this quite controversial movie sheds a serious light into the world of a mentally unstable young woman, there are parts of Nina's breakdowns, and breakthroughs, that I found myself relating to. As Nina goes through her emotional journey of pursuing her own self-perfection, there were times when I felt as though I was looking at myself, empathizing with the feeling of trying to break through something within, something that's holding me back, but not fully knowing what that "something" is. The act of doing so causing so much internal struggle that the resentment within myself, for myself, continually piles up. There are times in my own life where I reach a point when I almost don't recognize myself, when the person staring back at me in the mirror is someone I feel so alienated from. This person who should have accomplished so much more in her life by now, who doesn't understand how others can deem her remotely attractive, who doesn't know where her career is going and who is a constant disappointment to others (read: herself). Unlike Nina, however, I am able to snap myself out of this state. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but however low I get I am luckily always able to rebound to an equal, if not greater, high. I often rationalize this behavior as my "A-Type Personality" acting up again. But when is enough, enough?

I think it is fair to say that we are all, at one point or another, guilty of striving for some sort of "perfection". But what is "perfection"? And do we need really need it? From birth we are constantly exposed to society's "perfect" look, "perfect" life, "perfect" job, "perfect" family. But what is it all really about? Is it nailing that starring role, signing the bottom line on a major deal, having that 3 carat engagement ring that will send your friends green with envy; is it getting that promotion you've been working yourself, and those around you, crazy for? When does it end??? We constantly strive for perfection, but what about the imperfection that make us individually perfect?

I came away from the movie with a rush of many emotions, but also with a lot of insight. As though, at times, I was an outsider looking in on my own life. The movie reminded me of the dangerous borders this self destructive behavior causes one to cross.

The lesson of acceptance is a hard one to swallow, but it is essential. Will I ever be able to fully accept myself for everything I am? I hope so. I try every day to do so. I constantly try to turn negatives into positives and not allow myself to revel in my own self pity. I continue to try to be easy on myself, to not expect the unachievable, but to embrace who I am and where I am. To continue learning and loving, to be the best person I can be and, at the end of the day, put my head on the pillow feeling pleased that I've done all I could possibly do, and to let everything else go, if just for a night. Then to wake up in the morning ready and excited for what lies ahead. To find the balance between my "white swan" and "black swan."

My final thoughts for this post come from a prayer which I learned as a child and has grown with me, within me, throughout my life. It's held different meanings at different ages, but has always managed to shed light and comfort on whatever I'm needing it for:

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Till next time x

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Isn't it amazing how you can feel quite normal, indifferent or even a bit down, at one moment and then something happens that gives you the most amazing lift?! And suddenly whatever was causing that bit of static or, dare I say - depression, completely disappears and is filled with an overwhelming empowerment, as if you can do anything, if for only a moment?!

Personally, I find these drastic changes in emotion quite incredible. How does it work, exactly? And am I the only one who feels this way? I'm not sure if it's because I've been built with clearly complex hormones/genetics, but I find these high and low emotions happen to me on a weekly basis, which I'm sure my husband will happily vouch for (poor guy). I find it's not even the big things in life that do this to me (those actually seem to be more manageable for some reason?) but rather the little, unexpected things that cause such extreme emotional shifts- like my boss telling me I've written a great email or a friend saying I looked extra nice that day. I go through this so often that my friend Mike has given me the honorary title of his "flippity, floppity friend."

A good example of this low/high occurance was last Sunday. To follow up from my previous blog (Not Just a Facebook Friend), I was able to speak with my friend and am happy, if not relieved, to report that everything is fine. However, as I was ringing her to discuss that quite harsh email from the week prior, my stomach was in complete knots about the prospect of being told off for something I wasn't aware I did and trying to come up with a convincing apology (was I trying to convince myself or her??). To my surprise, I never had to do that and as soon as we started talking everything was back to normal (think Jerry Maguire's "You had me at hello", but without the romantic subtext). There was a good reason why she sent that email, which I understood (as only dear friends can) and we were soon chatting like no time had passed since we'd last seen each other. This was completely exciting for me, as one minute I was planning a nervous apology and the next I was so full of happiness!

I hope this doesn't come across negatively- that you're not thinking, "Wow, I wish I had this girl's life if all she has to worry about it making up with a best friend." If you are thinking that, I can only say I wish you were right! But, as I said before, I find these seemingly insignificant issues in life to be the ones which throw me either one way or the other. I've definitely had my share of seriously low low's, but those I somehow find are less drastic and, when in the middle of them, are easier to get on with, than the little unexpected twists and turns that pop along the course of life.

I guess this can all be chocked up to the wise words, "It Is What It Is." Always remember to breathe, be kind to yourself and, as Eat, Pray, Love tells us, "Smile from your Liver"

Till next time x

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Favourite Focus: The Sartorialist's Scott Schuman at Work

I find The Sartorialist incredibly inspiring as it documents real life fashion- what is seen on the streets rather than just on the catwalk. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Check out for your own inspiration!

Not Just a Facebook Friend

Every now and then I take a little "time out" to self-analyze: Am I being the best person I can be? Is there anything playing on my mind or conscience that needs to be addressed? Am I procrastinating dealing with something important? Have I made any decisions I'm not happy with? How do I rectify that? I'm sure everyone does this from time to time, in one form or another.

One question I've been struggling with lately is: Have I been a good friend? Admittedly, I'm complete rubbish at keeping in touch with people via phone, although I do have Skype programmed into my speed dial (so that counts for something, right?). I'm a great Facebook friend, Text-er and a so-so Emailer. I've never been one to talk on the phone (apart from the 1,000,000+ hours logged between ages 15 - 18) as I've always preferred face-to-face conversations, especially when discussing something quite personal. I never feel like I'm getting 100% out of a conversation over the phone.

You're probably asking yourself how on earth does a girl from New York, living in London, have any friends with this kind of attitude? To which my response would be "I have no idea!"

In my defense, I actually do have amazing friends back in New York who get how I work, and actually work in a similar way, and with whom I instantly pick up with the minute we see each other.

However, there are those friends who I completely adore, but whose idea of "keeping in touch" includes actually keeping in touch. I was reminded of this last week when I received an email from one of them telling me how she had been going through a very difficult time a few months ago, one which I've actually gone through myself, and she had wanted to talk to me about it on one of my past trips to Manhattan. Unfortunately, that trip didn't see us meeting and I was shocked to hear this news months later. She continued in her email to then tell me that she always regarded me as a good friend, but that she didn't see our friendship continuing after this instance. Shocked, I immediately responded asking for her number (no, I did not have it due to my phone dying and wiping all my contacts) so that I could call and work things out. About 3 days later on a Wednesday I heard back that she would be free to discuss this on the following Sunday.

As it's now Sunday and we are scheduled to chat in a few hours, I can't tell you how the rest of this story goes just yet. However, what I've contemplated these past few days is how I let our relationship get to this point.

My answer came to me at brunch this afternoon, when a friend openly admitted that he's also been rubbish at keeping in touch with friends and he is now focusing his time on repairing those relationships. His reason was that he, subconsciously, liked to keep them at arms reach- so that he couldn't be pushed away but rather be the one in the distance. I instantly related to this as, my fear isn't that I would be pushed away, but that there was something "safe" in keeping people at an arms reach.

What I've realized in my own life is that by working in this way, I've completely shut doors that should have been open and I've missed so many special and crucial moments...and aren't these the moments that make our lives?? A friend walks this life with you, hand-in-hand, not text-to-text.

My New Year's resolution is to be a fully hands-on friend. I ask that my friends reading this really hold me to it. This is my promise to you. And it begins with a Sunday evening phone call.

Till next time x

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Webster's dictionary defines a Family as "a group of persons of common ancestry or clan; a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock"

The words that stand out to me in that definition are "common ancestry" and "common stock". How opposite are those two descriptions? Ancestry relating to bloodline is an understandable explanation of the traditional idea of family, however being of common stock to me implies actually being similar, having the same views, ideas and passions. Personally, this is more a description of friends than it is of family. I can only speak for myself, but there are definitely some members of my family who I am constantly perplexed about how I have any relation to at all.

There's the old saying "you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends." I'd imagine Audrey and Russ Griswold felt exactly this way during their many "fun, filled family vacations" to Walley World or quests to cut down the perfect Christmas tree in National Lampoons.

I'm a firm believer that your friends can actually be your real family. You can count on them, they have the courage and dignity to tell you how they feel rather than going behind your back, you share similar views (and even if you don't, they are interested to discuss it!), they are a positive influence in your life and, most of all, they love you for the right reasons.

I don't mean to be Debbie Downer on families- there are absolutely people in my family who I would do anything for and who are the most precious things in my life. It just confuses me occasionally about how there are some people I'm meant to consider "family"- but would I really want to be friends with them if I had the choice?

All that said, I guess that no matter how crazy, depressing or just plain weird some family members may be, they are still family and we have to accept them for just that. Focus on those you love - be it family or friends- and laugh at the rest.

In the wise words of Clark Griswold:

"I think you're all f*@ked in the head. We're ten hours from the f*@king fun park and you want to bail out. Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much f*@king fun we'll need plastic surgeory to remove our godamn smiles."

Till next time x

Tom Ford SS11 Show- Love it!

Loving the use of ALL types of beautiful, sexy "women" in his show!

Sunday, 2 January 2011


For possibly the first time since I was able to be let out of my parent's supervision, I spent New Years Eve not out at a crazy club or party, trying to hold a conversation which felt more like a screaming match, completely missing the "ball drop" because it's too loud to even think about what time it was...or to even think for that matter; but rather I spent it at a fun, relaxed dinner party in my Maid of Honor's new apartment on Exchange Place with my husband and 2 other close friends. It was possibly the best New Year's I've had in a long time. 

Does this mean I'm getting old?! At a prime age of 27 I would really hope that, if I truly wanted, I could be out till 6am dancing on tables, hopping from one party to another and drinking my body weight in alcohol. Is it bad that I was actually happy (and relieved) not to have the worst hangover of my life on New Years Day? To be able to look into the light of the morning and not need to immediately curse the sun or feel the room spinning around me and then spend the whole day on the couch hating myself was, admittedly, pretty amazing. 

Thinking back to only a few years ago when the thought of "staying in" on New Years was the most absurd idea one could have, I'm forced to question myself and what's happened within the course of the year that's brought me to embracing a quiet New Year's Eve in the city that never sleeps. Is it that I've just exhausted all my potential to party till the early hours? Is my life so busy that any chance I get I completely crash? What am I using my energy on? 

I could go on and on about the questions I ask myself. But as good as that can be occasionally, after awhile all it does is waste time. Why am I looking back thinking that that was the "right" or "cooler" thing to do? Why can't I just accept that that was then and this is now? Admit to the fact that I loved having a quiet night of catching up with close friends, having quality time with them and really getting to know what is going on in their lives, making sober resolutions that are actually remotely achievable and participating in Dick Clark's 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR! countdown, hugging and kissing with meaning and pride in what's been and excitement at what will be. 

At the risk of dragging this on, overall, I can take 2 things away from this. 

1. It's a lesson in acceptance. Accepting where we are at this exact moment in our lives. Looking back on the fun and, more often, stupid times with a smile and to look ahead with a promise to be aware of where we're at in life, to own that place like there's no tomorrow and to not beat ourselves up for it. Change what we can, know what we can't and accept the rest.

2. Although I didn't talk about this much in this post, to be incredibly thankful for your true friends. To know who those few people are and to keep them close to your heart forever. They are the ones who will laugh with you, look back with you and know where you've been without explanation, be the mirror you can't face looking at sometimes, and who will accept and love you for all of it. 

Happy Accepting x