Carve Your Name On Hearts

Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. (Shannon L. Alder)

I want to tell you a little more about my trip to Belgium and my current trip to Zurich. Long story short, I met both of my hosts on the Internet.

Laura from Belgium contacted me first, when I was still in Japan, asking if I knew of a cheap place she could stay during her travels there. Though I was skeptical and nervous, I offered my humble flat to her. I don’t have a spare bed I said, but I do have a mattress. She agreed, time passed, she visited and we had the most wonderful time together. We went for walks, ate soba and talked and joked plenty. Flash-forward half a year and I found myself in Europe. But now you must come and visit ME she said. So I ended up in Belgium. There, Laura’s mother volunteered herself as my personal taxi driver and Laura’s father took me to the supermarket where he offered to purchase whatever health-foods my heart desired. I bought one avocado. I was given my own room, toiletries and much love and comfort. As a consequence, I felt at home in an instant.

As for Laura herself, my goodness, she was (still is) an absolute gem. I was so humbled by her generosity and compassion. For each day we were together, Laura had planned a visit to a different city in Belgium. And on each trip, she accompanied me to numerous clothing stores, health food shops and vegetarian restaurants with much love and patience. Though our interests couldn’t be more different, Laura made sure I got to explore Belgium my way. If we had differing opinions about something, Laura patiently listened to my side then kindly explained hers. At every moment, her top priority was my comfort. I was truly humbled by her character. My only wish is to manifest such beautiful qualities myself.

The next person I’d like to tell you about is Lavanya. She too was one of my blog’s active followers. A yogi, an artist (of all sorts) and a complete jewel (very fitting as her home is adorned with crystals). Lavnaya emailed me when she read I was stationed near Switzerland. She asked if I’d like to meet and invited me to her home in Zurich. I knew of her blog, I loved her drawings but I hadn’t seen a picture of her. I asked if she’d send me one and she gladly did. She sent two. One of her and one of her and her partner. She was so beautiful, so radiant. They both were. I just had to meet them. I thought OK, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m pushing my luck here but something called me to Zurich.

Wow Lavanya, where do I even start with this woman! My goodness. She is so compassionate. So selfless. So TALENTED. Before I say anything more I beg you to go and check out her blog HERE. Hey, welcome back! Did you love it? Right?! I knew it! So, Lavanya is obviously a talented artist but she’s also an amazing chef! Healthy, vegan and organic. Did I hit the jackpot or did I hit the jackpot?! She is everything I have always wanted to be. Oh man do I look up to her. Intelligent, mindful, spiritual, selfless. She and her partner have paid for everything on this trip (food, tickets, etc), cooked me the highest-quality food, given me an extensive tour of Zurich and last but not least, bags full of goodies for tomorrow’s trip including spiced cashews, vegan cookies, a vegan cookbook and bottled water.

If you were wondering, I’m not just writing this blogpost to brag about my new friends (OK maybe a little bit) but also to inform you that good exists! In a world of war, adversary and pain, there is still unconditional love. Unconditional love, faith and trust in complete strangers, that the mainstream news does not cover. Now I am speechless. But I can safely say both Laura and Lavanya are carved on my heart forever.

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (Mary Oliver)
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? (Mary Oliver)
Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.(Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life. (Mary Oliver)
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. (Mae West)

Picture Diary

image (1)image (2)
Love is what comforts you, frees you up inside, makes you laugh. -Bell Hooksimage (3)
Yes is the answer and you know that for sure. -John Lennon
image (6)image[5]
Meaning is rooted in the willingness to continue, to hold dear that nothing you hold dear lasts, to let it be. -Stephen Jenkinson image[3]image
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi
image (4)
The intellect is good but until it has become the servant of the heart, it is of little avail. ―Abdu’l-Baháimageimage (5)
You are terrifying and strange and beautiful. Something not everyone knows how to love.
-Warsan Shire
Stay close to anything that makes you glad you’re alive. -Hafiz image[7]image[6]
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. – Virginia Woolfimage (7)
Be who you were meant to be, and you will set the world on fire. -Catherine of Seina

Nara Photo Diary

Nara is that place in Japan where once wild but now tame Bambi roam.  Before Tokyo and Kyoto, Nara used to be the capital. This means two things: 1. the city is beautiful; many traditional buildings and ancient streets now home to artsy cafes and trendy stores to explore and 2. it’s a popular destination for school trips so you’ll be seeing/bumping into many (and I mean MANY) peeps in uniform. The prefecture’s mascot, Sento-kun is a funny looking half-deer, half-Buddha boy which, as you can imagine has offended many people. Hmmm what else? There are many shrines and temples but perhaps the most popular touristy attractions are Todaiji Temple (home of the big Buddha) and Nara Park (the deer home). As far as I understood, Nara isn’t famous for a specific type of food but you can find almost everything Japanesey (or shitty Italian) if you wish to.

I hope you enjoy my photo diary, taken and edited on my iPhone.
image[4] image[5] image[2]image[6] image[7] image[8]
image[9] image[10]

AND a diet coke please

Yesterday, I came across a quote on the internet which really stood out to me.

The quote was this:
“Our bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame;” “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, ‘My body aches,’ implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.”
― Swami Satchidananda

Often in hospitality, I receive strange (to put it mildly) requests from customers. However; I’m not entirely blaming them as I myself, am also guilty of previously having altered a menu item (or ten). If you work in the industry or you’re anything like 99% of women, then you’re bound to be familiar with the following common requests:

“I’ll have a (insert meal high in fat and calories here) with a diet coke please”
“dressing on the side”, “no dressing”
“can I swap my potatoes for a side salad?” (as if eating potatoes is the ultimate sin)
The list is endless…

Arguably, the core of such requests is bad body image; a desire to be thinner in order to be more beautiful (a misconception, obviously, as recently highlighted by Meghan Trainor and co). I wonder, when did food change from a blessing, one to be savoured, looked forward to and most importantly appreciated, to a chore and/or burden which requires strategic planning to conquer? Intellectually, I understand it; media, photoshop, unrealistic beauty standards, celebrities with eating disorders, society as we know it (nothing easier than blaming society). That being said, we are all conscious beings. Ones who have the ability to think, problem solve and differentiate from the kinds of shit society forcefully feeds our brains on a daily basis and the “truth” or life as we know it.

In my mere 22 years, my weight has often fluctuated (as I’m certain so has yours). At times I have felt like a scarecrow and at others, I have not (to put it gently). Why? Because; life. In his book entitled Finding Your Element, Sir Ken Robinson states: “Life is organic, not linear”. Meaning; none of us can effectively predict our future as our lives are neither programmed nor deliberate. Instead, our lives (and our bodies) are in a constant state of transformation. Because; life. Deadlines. Heartbreak. Redundancy. Death. Bills. Assignments. Stress. Stress. Stress. Change. Change. Change. In my favourite book of all time, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert also reflects on this process:

“I look at the Augusteum,and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me to not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve. Yesterday I might have been a glorious monument to somebody, true enough–but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.”

“Our bodies are changing every second.”

Today, to be thin is to be everything.  Skinny is the ultimate aspiration. And. I. Loathe. It. Perhaps I would hate it less if I were skinny, if I were benefiting from the system, the game. But, you know, I could be skinny. I have been skinny before. I could devote all my time, thoughts, energy, life to it. But I don’t want to. Actually, I cannot afford it. YOLO (you only live once)? Heaven? Hell? Metempsychosis? Whatever your belief system, we can all agree life is inestimable, invaluable, precious, GREAT. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging gluttony or ill-health but rather inviting you all to view your body with a different lens. You are entirely up to you. You are capable of endless wisdom, creativity, achievement. You are so much more than your ever-shifting weight. AK.


Blend It Like Beckham

This is my ‘light’ (in both senses of the word) green smoothie. Because no one actually likes green smoothies. And if they say that they do, they’re lying. Packed full of nutritious goodness, your body and tastebuds will love you for it. 

Avocados are one of the healthiest sources of natural fats. They’re high in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant vitamin that keeps skin cells strong and hydrated and B vitamins like niacin, which assists in detox and DNA repair and also reduce skin redness and inflammation. In addition, avocados fire up the natural detox processes of the liver, which helps our skin to stay clear. Although packed with goodness, avocados should be eaten in moderation (1/4-1/2 an avocado per day is a good limit), but don’t get too caught up in this as avocados burn easily for energy. In addition, avocados fire up the natural detox processes of the liver, which further helps our skin stay beautiful and clear.

Kiwifruits are insanely high in Vitamin C. Just one liddle widdle fuzzy kiwi gives us a day’s worth of C for less than 50 calories!

Pumpkin seeds are extremely rich in zinc (one ounce contains more than 2mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is beneficial to our bodies in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, our sense of taste and smell, eye and skin health and insulin regulation.

So what are you waiting for?

Blend it like Beckham.

1 frozen banana
1/2 avocado 
1 green kiwi fruit
1/2 cup almond milk
handful of pumpkin seeds

Let wholesome, delicious food be your beauty secret!

Do you think it’s possible to get through Summer only eating smoothie bowls?! Yes, if they’re filled with this much healthy. This delicious choco berry smoothie bowl is jam-packed with natural goodness and flavour. In addition, it’s naturally free from dairy, gluten and refined-sugar. Forget proactive, for beautiful skin, eat wholesome, nutritious food instead!

Below, I’ve added some proof/excerpts from Jolene Hart’s incredible book Eat Pretty: Nutirition for Beauty, Inside and Out for more info: 

On banana:

“Bananas contain an amino acid that boosts healthy hair and nail growth and protects the body from ageing free radicals. They also contain silicon, an essential element for strong hair, nails, and collagen. They’re easily digested and soothing to the lining of the stomach, and they feed good bacteria in your gut.”

On raw cacao:
“This beauty superfood has a higher concentration of antioxidants than any other food we now know of, thanks to its powerful phytochemicals like epicatechin that block the formation of wrinkles. The catechins in cacao throw a one-two antigaing punch: they turn off age-promoting cell mechanisms while activating protective cell mechanisms.”

On oats:
“Oats are mineral-rich breakfast staples. They’re extremely high in manganese, which helps maintain healthy hair and hair colour and supports mitochondrial health. They’re also rich in the beauty mineral iron for strong hair and nails.”

On unsweetened almond milk:
“When you pour a cup or so over your oatmeal, you get about half of your daily dose of vitamin E, the beauty vitamin that keeps skin moisturised and protected from the sun, plus about 45 percent of your calcium and 25 percent of your vitamin D. Unsweetened almond milk is low in both sugar and calories, and it’s free of the hormones and antibiotics found in conventional dairy.”

And, last but not least, from my previous posts, you should know blackcurrants are insanely good for your health (containing higher levels of vitamin C than any other commercially available fruit or vegetable).

So what are you waiting for? Toss out that processed crumpet and instead, simply whizz together:

2 frozen bananas
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp gluten-free oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup organic frozen ViBeri blackcurrants

To finish, top with whatever your heart desires! (My heart desired silvered almonds, strawberries and blackcurrants.)

A Beauty Post

Today, I’m going to let you in on a family secret! You see, although my beautiful mother, a trained beautician is now 50 years old, she is often mistaken by strangers as my sister! Why? Because her skin is FLAWLESS – I swear I’m not over exaggerating nor am I being bias. Good ole Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – a simple statement but a very profound one to which I wholeheartedly agree! Okay, okay, I’m stalling… what’s the secret you ask? The answer is: CUCUMBER.

For the past hour, I have been contemplating how I can genuinely promote the health benefits of cucumber without sounding like an advertisement and unfortunately, I am slowly running out of ideas. All I can really say, is that for my family and I, cucumber has done wonders! Simply massaging your skin with a thin slice of raw cucumber can help moisturise dry areas, fade dark circles, reduce puffy eyes, improve complexion, reduce wrinkles, treat sunburns, fight acne and tighten open pores. It is honestly that simple. No chemicals, no bull**** just 100% mother nature – Sorry, that totally sounded like an advertisement.

Seriously though, don’t bag it till you try it! – Argh, there I go again.

Fun fact: our skin is our body’s largest and fastest growing organ hence why it is so important we take extreme care of it.