The Fashion Kidd

Pages

Popular Posts

26.5.19

I ADMIT IT, THE YOGA
I PRACTICE AND TEACH
IS SUPER WEIRD




From the second my new colleague (who would soon be the person who introduced me to Kundalini Yoga) stepped into her new office — which was beside mine, circa '2013 — with her jars, essential oils, beads, and soft light lamps, I knew something different had swooped into my world. And it never left. 




Her name is Christine and she is the reason I tried Kundalini Yoga and became a teacher. It's funny to think of a time not long ago when yoga was considered weird. It was only for hippies, spiritual gurus, or Californians. Today, it's commonplace to hear about good 'vibes', put crystals around your room, talk about spirituality or order a turmeric latte on the way to work. 




Weirdness is a sliding scale. Everyone seems to have their own custom weirdness scale that dictates what they'll tolerate wearing, doing, listening to, and even what kind of coffee they order. I think my weirdness scale has always been a bit wider than the average one. Nothing truly shocks me and I'm actually attracted to things that are different. This is exactly how I felt during my first ever Kundalini Yoga class.




Yoga has become not only accepted in the West but has cemented itself in the health and wellness smorgasbord of endless activities we should be doing to stay healthy. But even within the widely accepted world of yoga, lies a black sheep. She's called Kundalini


I've talked about this yoga a lot but if you're new here, Kundalini Yoga is the type I practice and teach, and the single most important tool I use to stay happy, healthy, and quite frankly, sane
I'll put it like this. If Jane Fonda uses yoga to stay young, Russell Brand uses Kundalini Yoga to stay sober. This is not to say you need to have addiction issues to benefit from practicing this yoga, but it gives credit to how transformational it is. 



My friends can all tell when I haven't been doing my daily meditation. I certainly feel a difference. And when I'm feeling low, anxious, or overwhelmed, meditation is the first thing I turn to. I've experimented for years with ways of keeping a daily meditation habit and I finally found that doing it first thing in the morning is best. That way it's simple and easy but also forces me to prioritize it above other important morning rituals like filling in my brows or picking which shoes to wear. I'd honestly rather be eyebrow-less than have a stuffy mind. Meditation is like cleansing my mind of all the built up and swirling thoughts of the day before. It's like a mind-shower. 



 

It took me a while to get comfortable with Kundalini Yoga. The weird mantras, the turban, everyone wearing white. I understand why all these elements work and why they make the practice so powerful. I believe in the strong lineage of teachings and it's a practice that's only made my life better. Yet, I am still scared to let my flatmates hear me meditating. I keep my opening mantra super quiet. I avoid loud breathing exercises. I avoid doing meditations with a lot of mantras. I take off my turban before I come home after teaching a class. Thursdays at 8 pm at Joy Yoga in East London, y'all! 


It's not them, it's me. My flatmates are the least judgemental people and are fully supportive of my practice. And yet, I still can't just do it. Maybe I haven't fully accepted the weirder aspects that come along with this type of yoga and it's blocking my ability to be inhibited about practicing properly. 




It also flows into my work life. Sometimes, I'd love to step away and do a meditation in my office space. I also would love to run a weekly class and teach the people I work with as I think it might really help some of them. I'm scared of opening myself up to judgment. Maybe I'm not giving my flatmates and workmates enough credit. I'm the one being judgmental.




For this photoshoot, I felt like I got a little closer to this uninhibited self I idolize. I wanted to do the shoot in the place I feel farthest away from the yogi in me. The calm, happy, and loving side of me supersedes the angry, irritated and impatient me that I become the second I land at the Oxford Circus x Regent St. crossway. And yet, dressed in my yogi garb, seated in the same meditative pose I perform in my room each morning, I felt free. There were hundreds of people walking the streets and driving in their cars. I remember taking a deep breathe, closing my eyes, and repeating a mantra — one that anyone can understand: 


"This is me and I don't care what you think." 


PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEANNE DIXON

I've talked about how London is my greatest teacher and how I've never relied on my spiritual practice more than I do living here. Now I just need to embrace this part of me that I so deeply believe in and let her shine, shamelessly. 

Read More »

23.4.19

HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE
ENDLESS THINGS
TO DO IN LONDON


One of the realities — and best things — about living in a city like London is the endless amounts of things to do. It’s part of the reason so many people move here. Being someone who has always worked in public relations, I’ve always been fascinated by the way London is branded. This city attracts an insane amount of tourists every year so the branding, design, and marketing must be done well. 



I’ve never found myself lacking in awareness of what’s going on in this city. Mostly due to the weekly free and gorgeously designed Time Out London magazine, Instagram accounts like the not-so-secret @Secret.London, and the advertisements literally everywhere, London does a damn good job of making it's people and visitors know what’s up.

The first few months of picking up Time Out and anxiously scrolling through the pages to see what new cool thing is going on was exciting. Over time, though, I started to notice the feeling of FOMO rising up again and again. Does anyone say FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) anymore?


The reality of working and living in London is that most weeknights I’m pretty exhausted. Although, I know this is true of my Canadian friends and may just be an adult thing. So, let’s rule the weekdays out. On weekends is when I feel acquainted with FOMO the most. Making friends in a new city isn’t the easiest thing and I struggle sometimes to want to go out and do things alone all of the time. Certain activities truly require friends. One thing being the parks in the summer when everyone gathers in clusters with picnic baskets, drinks, music, and activities.


I’ve come to learn that the best thing to do in this city is: decide. Pick something to do and do it. Having a lot of things to do and see is not a bad problem to have; it’s too much of a good thing, really. But, when you’re single and don’t have a huge friend group just yet, it’s easy to feel like everyone has someone to hang out with and it can be lonely at times. I’m lucky in the sense that my flatmates are also my friends and we hang out a lot even if it’s just at home eating popcorn and watching a movie.



Another contributor to my FOMO is when I scroll through social media. When I’m home, it’s tempting to scroll social media and that doesn’t particularly help the situation. I just have to remind myself that most of social media is where people post their highlight reel and not their real lives, just as I admittedly do. I try to keep it a bit real but I’m conscious that my life probably looks dreamier that it truly is.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY IZZY

That being said, I still walk around this city with stars in my eyes and need an occasional pinch to remind me this is real. Everyday, I find something new and get to know this place a little better. So far, my favourite museum has been the V&A museum with it’s gorgeous marble walls and sculptures. I’ve been falling a little more in love with the Marylebone area everyday as that’s where I work. Every week it seems I walk by a new little shop or community centre that I’m surprised to find. I’m still learning on a hunt for my favourite clothing stores but I do enjoy a little Brick Lane vintage shopping. 

On my current to-go list is Portobello Rd. Market in Notting Hill, Hampstead Heath (for the gorgeous nature), Museum of Brands (nerding out!), Kew Gardens (duh), and various music festivals. I also want to spend more time in East London, my original love! 


What are your favourite things to do in your city? 



Read More »

10.4.19

WHY I AM GRATEFUL
FOR MY STRUGGLES




Being a human on this planet isn't easy. Everyone has experienced their version of pain, struggles, blocks, traumas, and breakdowns. I haven't had an easy ride. I've shared parts of my story with you and I always want to share as much as I can. The story I'm most free to share is my personal one because it's mine and I have learned to own it. I've shared my struggles with anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I've shared a bit about how I got through that time and how I stay well today. At the height of that struggle in 2014, I could've never imagined moving to London on my own and doing the things I've done. That was when I first tried meditation. When I closed my eyes for my daily one minute meditation (yes, that's how I started, can you believe it?) I could see a spark of the person I am today. Without being aware of what I was doing, I was visualizing myself happy, healthy, full of energy, and doing everything I ever wanted to do. 

This was the start of everything that I attribute my happiness to today. But it didn't start pretty. Today I want to share how facing obstacles has led me to inner peace and more happiness than I could imagine. 


The obstacles 

I wasn't always a positive person. In high school and college, I struggled a lot and cynicism became part of my personality. I was bitter about my circumstances. I had a lot of anger. I'd bottle up everything and explode unexpectedly. I'd drink, party, and date mean boys to feel better. I'd put pounds of makeup and clothes on everyday just to feel beautiful. I had a challenging home life and lost someone close to me. The ability to see anything positive in the obstacles I faced was a far stretch. A yellow brick road, you could say. 
The breaking point 

My breaking point was the time I had my first anxiety attack and first suicidal thought. I've shared the full story before but essentially I was at home and my heart started to race, my body felt really hot, and even though I didn't want to die, I felt a compulsion to jump off my balcony. Instead of following my thoughts, I picked up the phone and called my sister and then my parents, anyone who would pick up and listen. They came over and it took hours before I would calm down. Something inside me knew I had to reach out, sit with this feeling, and unpack what was going on. 


The uphill 

Healing from my days of severe anxiety and panic attacks took years. I learned to be open with my feelings with the people I trust. I did talk therapy and unpacked years of trauma and fear. I learned to take care of my body. I learned boundaries. And most of all, I found Kundalini Yoga. 


The solutions 

If I didn't have these huge challenges, I wouldn't have been in search of solutions. And within the solutions, I have not only healed my brain and body, I've discovered my dreams. My 'solutions' were not only helpful during the hard times, they've become part of my new way of living. This is why I have gratitude for the obstacles I've faced. If the need for something bigger and better than what I was feeling wasn't there, I don't know if I would've found it. Obstacles are not only life's greatest teachers, they remind us of our inner strength. There's something in all of us that wants to not only survive but thrive and go beyond. 

The cave I meditated in during my trip to Mallorca.

The spirit 

Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini yoga master who brought this yoga to the West in 1969, says The question is, Are you spiritual or are you not? The truth is you are. The reality is you don’t believe it. I've always known I was a spiritual person but I never connected to it through religion and didn't know there was another way to do this. Kundalini Yoga is the way I've personally been able to practice spirituality on a daily basis. It's taught me what it means to be a spiritual being and I'm now able to bring this spirituality into my daily life. 

The humbling

I just spent a weekend on the island of Mallorca with Guru Jagat, a Kundalini Yoga master. During one of the classes, she said There is nothing more humbling than the human experience. My obstacles have kept me humble. They've taught me about compassion and empathy. I recognize that I'm very privileged, abundant, and blessed to be here and living in this time. I always try to treat everybody the same. I don't care if you're the CEO of the company I work for, I'll treat you with the same respect as the person who replenishes our tea baskets. Yoga has helped me truly feel and embody the fact that we're all one in the same. 


The not-so-easy ride

When I see my obstacles as teachers, as something that pushes me to go beyond myself and discover people, places, and things that enrich my life, I can make peace with them. I've also made peace with the fact that I can't make peace with some of the struggles I've had. Some of my experiences really broke me down and I wish I hadn't gone through them. But when I can see the positives in the outcomes of what I learned or felt that has helped me be a better friend or colleague, it helps me move on. 


The story 

I used to resonate with the phrase It's never too late to re-write your story but now I slightly disagree. I feel like it makes me feel ashamed of my past experiences moreso than it makes me feel hopeful of the future. I do agree it's never too late to make change but I've learned to see my story as something that has shaped my character and for that, I'm grateful. That being said, I'm ready to detach from said story. When I repeat the same stories over and over, I start to identify with them and it becomes part of my personal identity. I'm learning to detach my experiences from who I am because they're not one in the same. I used to relate so much to my childhood traumas and this translated into a victim mentality or almost a competition of judging people who haven't 'been through the same shit'. Everyone has been through something and I'll never know the full extent of that. This is why I try to treat everyone with the same respect and kindness.


The purpose

I'm a chronic over-thinker and I spend a lot of time in the 'What is my purpose' department of my brain. The answer to the question that I so often ask is that my purpose — and all of our purpose — is to live this human experience. To go through the obstacles. To be alive and present, here and now. To live and inspire. To share and create. This is it. 


Out of my head

One way I'm learning to get out of my head is to get into my body and my environment. Being in Mallorca was a sensory-overload in the best possible way. The warm humid air, the orange trees, the sea, the sun, and the people. These elements made it near impossible for me to chill for very long in my own mind. They're a reminder that there's so much more than me and nature helps me focus on something way bigger than myself. Regardless of what I've been through and what topic my brain wants to replay over and over, there is so much beauty happening all around me. Not just in Mallorca, but anywhere I go. 


Gratitude

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to travel. Visiting new places is opening my eyes and widening my lens to new cultures and environments. It's strengthening my trust in myself and also my reliance on all the wellness solutions I've discovered through facing obstacles. I've never needed and practiced yoga so much. I've never been so proactive in reaching out for help. I've never felt so alive and well. 








Read More »

21.3.19

MY COMPLICATED
RELATIONSHIP WITH
LEISURE



Leisure/relaxation/free time 

My concept of leisure and relaxation has — at some point — attached itself to feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and selfishness. We're living in a time of doing, not being. Of getting things done but not necessarily enjoying the process. From wishing for the weekend only to spend the weekend working on our personal to-do lists; fixing up our living spaces, taking care of personal admin, and Marie Kondo-ing our t-shirt drawers. I could go on. 


While these guilty feelings towards leisure can be partially blamed on societal influence, I believe we can re-define this concept for ourselves in a way that aligns with our lives. I myself have had a complicated relationship with leisure. Years ago, I was the chronically busy over-achiever. This led me to an inevitable burnt out and I became anxiety-ridden and eventually struggled to even leave the house. I became dependent on relaxation for survival. This was a much needed wake up call and led me to discover many relaxation techniques. I started to value leisure as a productive activity. I then overly-embraced and, to be honest, ~preached~ wellness and relaxation techniques. 


I eventually learned that while my well-intentioned advice works for me, it may not be for everyone. This led to a phase of focusing too much on what I perceived were "wellness activities" and forgetting about the fun things I loved doing that weren't directly impacting my "wellbeing". It was almost like I couldn't enjoy activities that weren't aimed at my wellness. Sometimes staying up late to have a few drinks with friends is what I need. Sometimes spending three hours in a thrift store is what I need. I've learned that leisure doesn't always look like yoga, meditation, and staying inside all the time. 


This leads me to the present. I now feel like I've reached a happy medium where I know what relaxation means for me personally and that it isn't a waste of time — nor is it something I have to be doing at all times to stay well. 


Since moving to London, I've been making time for weekends away and booking my travels around things I have always wanted to do. I did all the right things for my recent weekend away in Bath, UK. King size bed — check! Spa booked — check! No other plans/time to just 'be' — check! 


While this weekend away gave me much needed time and space from the city and the spa was truly rejuvenating, I couldn't help but feel a thread of guilt woven into my weekend. Guilt around treating myself, feeling not worthy, guilty for taking time off work, and and guilty for investing time and money into something that could've gone towards something more productive like paying off debt. 


Before these guilt trips had the chance to full absorb my weekend, a book — of all things — changed my mindset.

If you know me, you'll know I'm not a big reader. Since moving to London and spending a significant time on public transport, I've started reading to pass the time. While in Bath, I stumbled into a bookstore in search of new reading material for the train back.  A series of small neatly packed books caught my eye.  One in particular, On the shortness of life; Life is long if know how to use it by Seneca caught my eye. I've been curious lately about slowing time and experiencing the truth of what it means to be alive. Written in 49 AD, I am surprised by how relevant this book is. Seneca is leisure's biggest cheerleader. 


For as soon as their preoccupations fail them, they are restless with nothing to do, not knowing how to dispose or their leisure of make the time pass. And so they are anxious for something else to do, and all the intervening time is wearisome: really, it is just as when a gladiatorial show has been announced, or they are looking forward to the appointed time of some other exhibition or amusement — they want to leap over the days in between. (Seneca)

PHOTOGRAPHY // IZZY MANUEL

I think everyone can relate to the feeling of wishing it was the weekend or counting down the days until the next vacation. Seneca views time — specifically, our personal time — as something of enormous value. We give our time so freely to work, other people, chores and activities that we don't enjoy. He applauds the enjoyment of being with ourselves and doing things purely for our pleasure: 

You are winning affection in a job which it is hard to avoid ill-will; but believe me it is better to understand the balance-sheet of ones own life than of the corn trade. (Seneca) 


This is not to say that we should all just quit our jobs and live a life of leisure — this simply isn't possible for the majority of people. Being someone who derives a lot of purpose and meaning from my job, I wouldn't do this anyway. I do think we could slow time by valuing our personal time more, by making time to enjoy leisure, and time to embrace and respect the art of living. Starting this book on the train ride back helped dissolve some of the guilty feelings and allowed me to take a step back to reflect on my previously complicated relationship with leisure. It feels good to reflect and pat my self on the back for how far I've come. 

As I've shared in my last post, I've been trying to slow things down. I've already been taking the time to walk a little slower and more mindfully, to not set time limits on activities, and to prioritize my wellbeing above everything else, however that looks for me. I think one of my greatest fears is that life will slip by me and I won't remember what happened because I was moving too fast. I want my life to be lived in the slow moments and the spaces in between

Read More »

19.2.19

WHY I STOPPED
FAST WALKING IN LONDON


I often get asked how do you like living in London? 

I frequently reply with I love it, I hate it, it's everything and anything, it's chaos, it's beauty and there's nowhere else I'd rather be at this point in my life. 




From the very first time I visited this city in 2014 to now — six months into living and working here — I've always been hyper aware of the chaos that ensues. Despite evidence stating that London remains one of the world's least dense big cities in population terms, there are still over 8.7 million people living here. Which is still six times more people than my Canadian hometown of Ottawa (1.3 million people). 



My perspective is unique — coming from THE land of vast, open spaces. Even after spending six months living in London, I am still in awe of the amount of people, the narrow streets, and THE. TUBE

I started to notice a trend on the streets and on the underground. 


People. 


Walking. 


Very. 


Fast. 




Whether it's on the way to work or to meet friends, switching platforms on the underground, choosing a cashier line at the grocery store, or walking running up and down the escalator. These people are SWIFT! 


At first I thought ah, they must all be very late for work or an appointment. But then I started to notice it wasn't just a few people. It was a collective rush. Every single person is LATE!? This can't be. There's no way they rush from place to place just for fun!


In London, especially within public transit, it's not uncommon to see everything and anything. I feel like I've ~almost~ seen it all but nothing amazes me more than this constant buzzing phenomenon. 




London often gets compared to its American equivalent, New York. While NYC is famous for it's fast walkers, it turns out that they've been out-run by some of the European cities. A number of years ago, a study was done that ranked the fastest walkers in the world by city. Turns out New York ranked number 8, with London at number 12, and Ottawa, Canada OF ALL PLACES actually made the list at number 20. I guess fast walking isn't such a foreign concept to this Ottawa-native after all. 


Fast walking didn't actually seem that bizarre to me until one day I noticed that I, too, was fast walking. I felt like a fish that got swept up in a school of fish in a current that I couldn't escape from. It wasn't until I was sweating and panting — after manually climbing up the entire escalator — and realizing that I wasn't late, I didn't even have a job yet, and I was rushing for no reason — that I noticed a problem. 


Here's the problem with rushing. When I rush, I become hyper focused on the destination. My brain jumps to the future. I feel anxious and nervous about not arriving at said destination on time. This can sometimes lead to a spiral of negative thinking — and coupled with the heavy breathing and lack of mindfulness — makes me feel kinda shitty. 


For what? 




Ok, I've been late. Many, many times. And I know for sure that by the time I realize I'm late, there isn't that much I can do about it. When I'm late for something, it's almost always because I took too long getting ready and lost track of time. Rushing to my destination will only ever save me minutes. Mere minutes. That's all I get. And I've gone and rushed — putting my body through stress. 




As someone who's had a history of anxiety, I've figured out that fast walking is not for me. I have to work everyday at improving my environment to be as conducive to wellness as possible. Alas, this is why I've stopped fast walking in London



Sometimes I get caught up in the collective wave of rushing but I'm getting better and better at stopping myself. I'm aware that when I rush, I lose touch with the present moment and I become less mindful. I forget things more easily, I stress over pointless things that are out of my control, and it makes my breath fast and shallow. And if my yoga journey has taught me anything, it's that the speed of my breath dictates the speed of my thoughts. For me, the antidote to chaotic and catastrophic thoughts is slowing down my breath. 



PHOTOGRAPHY // LEANNE DIXON 
I've talked about how London has been the best teacher for me. Living here has forced me to face myself in a way I've never had to. It's been humbling to start at square one and I've had to rely on me, myself, and I to figure this big dream out. Living and working here has brought my anxiety levels to a place I hoped I'd never see again — but it's also cemented my self-care routine to the top of my priority list. It's never been more important for me to do the things that keep me feeling well. I'm still not very good at asking for help but by doing what I can to stay well, I'm feeling better. Starting with walking at a slower, more mindful and relaxed pace. And I don't care who passes me.














Read More »