I woke up in Shoreditch last Saturday for another day of London excursions.
I headed down to the lobby and read my book while waiting for Ivy to get ready. The lobby and the service were, by the way, the best things about staying at Nobu. The food is meant to be amazing but we only tried breakfast while we were there.
Not on Saturday though, on Saturday we headed to Hoi Polloi to have breakfast with Donata. Like Ivy, Donata is a former boss-turned-great-friend of mine. The two of them have such a special place in my heart. They actually came to my graduation ceremony when I graduated from university and almost didn’t go myself as, frankly, it would be the loneliest and saddest thing to go to my ceremony unaccompanied.
As per usual, the live band was making classical interpretations of rock and indie classics and it was great. Having a live classical band playing for brunch is something that several restaurants in London do. Bistrotheque in East London was the first place where I encountered this several years ago, but since then many others have followed suit.
Donata gave me a present which turned out to be a book titled ”What Mothers Do: Especially When it Looks Like Nothing” hehe.
Then I jumped on the bus. I was heading to Borough Market to see Patricia. We went to university together and Patricia has since stayed in London and now works as a reporter for the FT. Very cool indeed.
We went for a second brunch, nipped into the Tate for a bit, before going on a very, very long walk to the southern parts of south London. It was great seeing Patricia and my other London friends. I keep thinking that all of my London friends have left, because the vast majority of them have, but I really appreciate the ones that are still there.
I was reminded of that fact that I’m pregnant and my back can’t deal with walking and/or standing the way it used to (lol), so I hopped on the bus back to Shoreditch to go for an early dinner with Ivy. We opted for Pizza East, a former local of ours. Pizza East is located in the Tea Building, which is also the building where I did my first and last PR gig when still living in London.
It was just as great as I remembered.
We nipped out for ice cream at Boxpark, and only really because of how fun ice cream is at Boxpark.
And finally, we went back to Nobu where Ivy ordered a cocktail for our film night in. We ended up watching After the Wedding after recommendations from Jasmin. I’ve never before had two consecutive nights of watching films while staying at a hotel in central London, but I can highly recommend it.
And then we woke up the next day, went for a lovely brunch and a lovelier pedicure. And then cancelled trains meant that I almost missed my flight back home and I spent a good two hours in tears. But other than that, it was a phenomenal London weekend. Just what I needed.
I’m a huge fan of science, data, and… tarot cards. Yes, it’s true. I was very dismissive of tarot cards and the culture around it until a friend of mine suggested that ”saying that you don’t believe in tarot cards is sort of like saying that you don’t believe in your own thoughts—the only thing tarot cards do is trigger thoughts about different situations”. That blew my mind. True, this is just one interpretation of tarot cards and how you can read them, but that is the interpretation that has guided my relationship with tarot cards since.
I don’t use my cards every day, but I sometimes lean on them when I get stuck in my thoughts about certain situations or happenings. If I don’t know where to turn, I can always count on the cards to help me get some clarity and see a path forward.
I did my first reading in over a year this morning before work. I opted for the balance reading as guided in my tarot book, which includes pulling three different cards where each card answers to a statement. The first card suggests an answer to the first statement, which in this case is ”what you might be lacking”. The card I pulled stands for integration, completion, attainment. It resonated a lot with me—I’ve felt a bit lonely and disconnected from my people this week, with H out of town and me working from home for two days, it’s been sort of lonely. The next card to pull answers to ”what you might need to release” and the card I got stands for loss, disappointment, outflow. It made me take a closer look and see if there were any of those things that have burdened me recently. Finally, the third card answers to ”what to keep in mind in approaching balance” and the card I pulled stands for cooperation, collaboration, feedback. It made me smile just a bit and, needless to say, it resonated a lot.
Reading cards is, to me, just a thought exercise. It’s not about predicting the future or asking god/the universe for help (though that said, whatever floats your boat!). It’s a way to trigger new thoughts and to see things clearer. And it’s a way to check in with yourself. The cards aren’t be-all and end-all. Sometimes you might not at all agree with a card, and that to me is just as useful in checking in with yourself. I love my cards and they’re serving me well. If you’re at all interested in this sort of stuff, I’d highly recommend getting a deck.
I recently wrote a very short review on Instagram of a book that I just finished, and someone responded and asked me how I find the time to read. I found it interesting, because a) I don’t think I read that much (tops two books a month) and b) to be completely honest, I also don’t do many other things—at least not compared to what I used to do.
There was a time when I spent my time very differently. I spent at least ten hours at the office every day, went to the gym four days a week, freelanced on top of my day-to-day work, did lectures, talks, and workshops at everything from tech conferences to big corporations, kept a thought leadership-y blog, and many other things. It was a busy life, and I loved it. But nothing ever felt like it was enough. And more and more, I started questioning why I was doing the stuff I was doing. I felt like I was actively building my personal brand without knowing why, and like it became an end-goal in itself. Again, without knowing why. It started feeling shallow and empty. And it wasn’t nice.
I’m living a much slower life now. It’s ironic, because work is anything but slow—the company I’m working at is evolving at an incredibly fast pace and every nine to twelve months it’s like a new and much bigger company, with new colleagues, new strategic partners, new markets, entirely new projects, and so on. It’s wild, and I love it. But I’m becoming much stricter about boundaries, and I’ve freed up a lot of my spare time for doing nothing. Doing nothing includes reading books, watching films, thinking about our family and our home, and—of course—writing this little blog, which I’ve come to love so much.
And I think that’s really it. We still compare ourselves to people on Instagram in a way that’s completely unfair. One of my favourite fitness influencers does very few other things in a day than hanging out at the gym. I will never achieve her fitness levels unless I do the same. My favourite food influencer does very few other things than coming up with great recipes. My favourite interior influencer does very few other things than trawl the internet/flea markets/etc for little gems. Etcetera. You can’t be all three, yet somehow, we still compare ourselves to all three.
That’s how we find the time to do what we do. We don’t do the other stuff. I do think it’s possible to have it all, just not at the same time. And I’m increasingly content with that.
Instagram just reminded me that today marks four years since I was made redundant from the startup where I then worked. The company didn’t manage to raise their Series B, so they had to let the entire marketing team go. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be made redundant once again six months later when the PR agency I’d joined shut down. Both of these incidents turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. Below is a post I wrote at the end of 2016 about my biggest learnings from being made redundant twice in six months.
I take it I’m not the only one who at this point in the year starts to look both back and forth. 2016 was a pretty intense year, but then again that seems to be something I say every year. 2016 was intense for different reasons though, two of them being that I was made redundant, not once but twice. Yep. First time it happened there was no end to the betrayal I felt (lol, so cute) and the second time it happened I almost burst out laughing because it was so comical. Who gets made redundant twice in six months?! Someone who works in PR, that’s who.
Nevertheless, I learnt a lot along the way. Here’s the biggest lessons:
1. There’s no better way to be unemployed
Think about it. For whatever reason, your boss is forced to pay you to leave. Depending on the terms of your contract, you’re paid to look for another job for X months. And when people and potential employers ask you why you want to leave your current job you don’t have to come up with some lame excuse, you can actually just tell the truth – they couldn’t afford to keep you. And the person that had to make you redundant will, in my experience, do everything in their power to help you find another great job. For instance, the second founder to make me redundant spent two hours with me to help me brainstorm ideas for an interview I had coming up. I can’t imagine any other situation where that would happen.
2. Your network is bigger than you think – and it’s about to grow even bigger
Everyone you know will have heard of someone being made redundant, and people love to help. I reached out to all kinds of people that were really quite far out in my network – simply put, I’ve never gone to more coffees in my life. I had about 3 meetings a day, with potential employers but also with people in my network who offered to share their experiences and their network with me. It was a brilliant way to network and meet new people and old – about a zillion times better than going to one of those ”networking events” (barf).
3. Beggars can be choosers
Because you get a redundancy package and because you have no work to go to, you have all the time in the world to meet potential employers. Most importantly, you get given the opportunity to figure out what it is you really want. I was pretty lost in my first job and wasn’t sure whether I wanted to specialise in PR or social, but once I was made redundant it became crystal clear that I wanted to do startup PR, preferably agency-side as I wanted exposure to a lot of different companies, and preferably with a boutique agency as I just can’t face corporatism (soz). That said, I still met with corporate agencies and startups, and ended up with five offers from agencies and startups alike within four weeks after being made redundant.
4. As a creative, you’ll never be more creative
So you have all this time and you meet with all these people. And most of them will ask for some sort of work sample before even considering hiring you. As a creative, I’ve never had a higher output of quantifiable creativity than in times of redundancy. And because of how recruitment processes work, you have to do it all at once. In one week, in-between interviews, I singlehandedly developed several different PR and social media strategies for everything from driving engagement to launching in new markets, while devising numerous press releases for products and clients I knew little about. If you’re early on in your career, as I was, chances are you’ve never had to do this on your own before. Realising that you’re capable of it is a massive confidence booster.
And finally, if I ever doubt my abilities, at least my brother was right when he offered this piece of poignant advice: ”you’re really good at getting paid for losing jobs”.
I woke up in London on Friday and it was glorious. Here’s what we got up to.
We opted for the hotel breakfast on Friday and I was particularly excited about the dragon fruit. It was the first time I had any since I went to Bali two years ago. It wasn’t quite as delicious as I remembered it to be, but I guess that’s what you get when you’re not in Bali hehe.
Worked on my selfie + bump selfie game while I waited for Ivy to get ready. I am blown away by the engagement any pregnancy-related post gets on Instagram and I’m not quite sure what I think of it actually. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by all the love, but at the same time it’s like one friend said: ”being pregnant almost feels a bit.. trendy?”. I don’t post any pictures of the big kids on social and I’m not planning on posting any of the little one either, and for the same reason I’ve felt a bit hesitant of posting pictures of the bump. But I also don’t like the idea of hiding or not at all talking about my pregnancy when it’s currently most of what I think about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Ivy and I discussed this and more as we got on the bus to my favourite shop in the entire world: FOYLES. Foyles was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bookshop. It’s well over a century old and it’s impossible to spend less than an hour in there. Books have played such a huge role in my life. I started reading as a four-year-old and from day one, literature made me see that there was a different world out there than the one I was living in. I read much less now than I used to, but I still manage to get through 25 books or so in a year. And for many years I’ve been building the library I want my kids to have access to as they grow up. I was very intrigued to stumble upon the above series on emotional intelligence by Harvard Business Review, and this is exactly the sort of piece I want in our library. Emotional intelligence will become ever more important in our society I believe, particularly as automation and AI continue to rise in new domains.
We popped into Mulberry to see if they happened to have any fun keyrings in. My keys have depressed me beyond imagination for months and I decided to spice them up a bit, so I bought a 60 SEK keyring from Clas Ohlson a few weeks ago. It broke almost immediately, so this time I decided to go for a much safer bet—this little punk panda! Sponsored by my ”instead of cigarettes” savings account. Today marks one year since I had my last cigarette and I save all the money I otherwise would’ve spent on cigarettes. It’s not much, 52 SEK a week, but over time it accumulates to the point where you can buy a Mulberry keyring and even have money to spare. Not bad.
After a quick stop at Fortnum & Mason, where I didn’t buy any tea, we met up with Claire for dinner at Bancone, a glorious little Italian spot in the middle of Soho. It was phenomenal and surprisingly cheap, highly recommend.
I mean omg? The fish and the polenta and the white melon mush. Yummmmm.
And then we finally took the bus back to the hotel. We couldn’t get Netflix to work on the hotel telly so the reception sent us two room service cheesecakes as consolation. Room service is better than Netflix imo, particularly as HBO worked just fine… Hehe.
And that was day one in London.
Tomorrow marks the 50% milestone of my pregnancy. It’s wild how we’re already halfway there and in many ways, I hope the second half goes past just a tiny bit slower. I’m so far having an extraordinary pregnancy, and I’m not taking that for granted. I have several friends who’ve experienced a different kind of pregnancy altogether: nausea for six months on end, being literally bedridden (as in the doctors wouldn’t allow her to leave her flat) for several consecutive weeks, having PGP to the point where they can barely move, and so on. I did have a bit of nausea during the first trimester and I get pretty bad back pains if I stand up or walk for too long (i.e. two hours) but I still feel amazing. True, I was crazy tired until I started eating iron supplements, but my wellbeing has shot through the roof since then. I don’t know if it’s the iron supplements or the fact that I’m very happy about becoming a mother, but I feel much better and happier than I do on an average day.
Many people have asked me how I’m feeling, both physically and emotionally. It goes to show how many people, particularly mothers, know that it’s not always a joyride being pregnant. But honestly, I’m having a great time—particularly now that it’s fully out in the open and the little bump is showing. In my mind I’ve been showing for WEEKS lol, but looking back at photos I can see that I was probably just a bit excited.
Pregnancies and TTC (trying to conceive) journeys can be such delicate subjects. While we’ve been on our pregnancy journey I’ve discovered that many, many people around us have their own pregnancy story and they’re not always uncomplicated. Whether it’s difficulties to conceive, going through IVF, miscarrying, or facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are so many emotions running high. And if you’re going through a journey like that right now, know that you’re far from alone.
For me, it wasn’t even obvious that I wanted children of my own until I one day couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like flicking a switch. It was also being with H, the most wonderful person and amazing father I have ever met. In many ways, it was less about wanting a baby and more wanting a baby with him. He remains the best decision I have ever made and I can’t see a world where our baby could ever have a better father. This is backed up by incredibly strong data, seeing as he has raised three wonderful children already and keeps doing so with an endless amount of love, empathy, and compassion, while upholding a household of zero toxic masculinity.
So yes, we’re halfway there. I can feel our baby kick every single day and I laugh out loud every single time (or, when in meetings, I mainly try to stop myself from doing so). And I am so grateful for this little life growing inside of me.
Good grief what a week. Work has been pretty wild so far this year, lots of late-night and weekend work sessions ahead of a couple of major deadlines. I don’t get stressed the way I used to, though, so although there are lots of extra hours going in, I don’t crumble the way I did a few years ago. It probably has something to do with getting older but also working at a company that has helped me to overcome my impostor syndrome. Never did I think that joining a company that is disrupting an entire industry and growing at rocket speed would do that, but the things you learn…
As a result of working very long hours recently, I took today off for a London getaway with Ivy. It’s been more than three years since I left London, but somehow it’s still like coming back home. I don’t at all miss the hustle and bustle, but I sometimes do miss the buzz—and it’s difficult to have one without the other. But then I went out for dinner with some old colleagues when I arrived last night and remembered the times when I went out for dinner several times a week because it was easier than cooking at home, and because home rarely felt like a home. It made me realise once again how grateful I am for my life and my people in Malmö.
It’s also, of course, a bit wild being here on Brexit Day. Seven years after David Cameron first promising that there would be a referendum if the Tories were re-elected, Britain is today leaving the EU. The market is reacting appropriately to certainty, meaning the pound is stronger than it has been in years. That’s bad news for me hehe but hey-ho! If anything, moving to Malmö was an incredibly wise financial decision, so I’ll bear that in mind when I go huffing and puffing over the weak SEK.
We’re staying at Nobu in Shoreditch, a hotel I booked particularly as I thought it had a pool. It turns out that it doesn’t, but it is made out of gold? Everything is extremely golden and I feel extremely nouveau riche hanging out in this golden hotel, lol. But it feels great to be back in London for a few days. We’re going to all my favourite spots, Foyles for books, Liberty for (baby) clothes, Tate Modern for art exhibits, Fortnum & Mason for tea, and lots of great eats in and around Shoreditch and central London. Not a bad way to end January.
Here’s how my life has changed since I started eating iron supplements three weeks ago:
*I’m no longer tired. As in, I wake up feeling energised.
*I see beauty where I previously saw nothing at all.
*I have enough bandwidth to deal with suppliers who don’t deliver on their promises.
*I am now the one to ask the kids to play ping pong with me.
*I’ve signed up with a PT.
*I’ve started cooking real, actual meals. From recipes even.
*I go to bed and I’m not 100% exhausted.
I’ve always been a bit snarky about supplements but wow, this has blown my mind. Maybe it isn’t the supplements (although I started eating them as the midwife said I had anaemia) but to be honest, I’m feeling so great that I’m not taking any chances. So if you’re tired, get your blood levels checked out. It might not be a burnout, it might just be iron deficiency.
I’ve become one with my pyjamas and I don’t even mind. I don’t like wearing tight clothes and haven’t really since I was 19, but these days most of my clothes are pretty snug. It’s not a problem when I’m at work or out and about, but as soon as I get back home I just want to get out of my increasingly tight tights and get into my pyjamas. Unfortunately, the pyjamas I had is a three years old Cos thing and it was pretty rank, resulting in me feeling pretty rank whenever I wore it, aka most of the time. Not ideal. So, I’ve been looking for a new pyjamas for several months but the only nice one I’ve managed to find is a Nufferton one. And I put it off for months and months, because there is a limit to how much I’m willing to pay for a pyjamas.
But there’s also a limit to how rank I want to feel, so yesterday I finally gave in and got myself a wonderful, new pyjamas. I should’ve bought it from the start, and isn’t that just the best feeling? When you finally get yourself something that you’ve been wanting for a long time.
I love it. And I can finally lounge around at home without feeling rank.
I’m having a crazy week. I should have seen it coming, but lately I’ve been so zen that nothing seems to faze me. And actually, now that I’m in the middle of some sort of work storm, I’m still not freaking out. It might change when Tuesday and this mega deadline actually hits, but I’m hoping not. In any case, I’m spending the weekend deep in work stuff, trying to make sense of numbers for a big release we have coming up.
I went to Stockholm this week for a 36-hour work trip. Here’s what it looked like:
05.15: Morning glory! I took the 06.10 fast train to Stockholm which was a big mistake. I normally work on the train to and from Stockholm but that’s utterly impossible when you take the fast train. It might be me being pregnant, but frankly, it might also be the train being like the vomit comet.
13.00: Hello from the news desk! Our CEO was due to appear on Di TV, talking about why we need a better way of updating maps and how Mapillary’s collaboration-based approach is the best way forward. If you’re interested in maps, why they matter, and what I spend my days/life doing, you can watch the full feature here (fast forward to 04.55)
16.30: Nipping out from our Stockholm office to get some nibbles.
18.30: Dinner at Isabelle’s and Anton’s! Isabelle, Fanny, and I lived together for a few months when we were all in Uganda and a wonderful friendship followed. These days I see them both very rarely, a direct consequence of me living in Malmö, but whenever I do, we pick up from right where we left off.
22.00: Checking in to my hotel. I have a number of favourite Stockholm hotels but this one, Blique by Nobis, ranks quite high, particularly when I go for work and want to keep costs down. The rooms don’t have any windows—I honestly don’t mind—but the hotel does have a glorious breakfast, a well-equipped gym and sauna centre, and it’s nice enough so that you can take meetings there.
00.00: Found this after a two-hour work session and lol’d.
07.30: I woke up to a cancelled breakfast meeting, but that only meant that I got to have a breakfast date with someone else—ME! I love dining out on my own, so it worked out quite nicely.
12.00: Went to Alma for a lunch meeting with Helena, an acquaintance of mine who’s also in PR. I think we’ve only ever met twice in real life, but we have lots of mutual friends and, more than anything, we’ve followed each others’ antics on Instagram for years and somehow gotten to know each other online. That’s exactly what I love about Instagram. I’ve made so many friends and connections on Instagram that I couldn’t have done offline, particularly not living in Malmö.
13.30: And then I worked from Alma and the Central Station before taking the 17.05 train back to Malmö, feeling very grateful and happy about my 36 hours in Stockholm, but even happier about going back home. <3