I got through 2021 and 2022 with many deep breaths. Long, deep breaths. Back to back, without rests in between.
I’d take a deep breath in, throw myself into a new project and wouldn’t exhale until I was done.
The immense hard work paid off in the form of beautiful opportunities, invigorating conversations and dream projects. From launching The Pink City and Paradise Collections, to my first solo pop-up in Central London, I was firing on all cylinders - creatively, socially, financially, mentally and physically.
But firing on all cylinders inevitably leads to one thing… burn out.
While I’m grateful for the opportunities of the last two years, and proud of my achievements and artistic growth, it wasn’t until the end of 2022 that I realised I had been failing to look after myself. I was so busy nourishing my business, my designs, my collaborators and my community that I had no time to nourish my body, mind and soul.
My online presence showcased growth, celebration and achievement but hid other parts of my life - deep-rooted trauma that had resurfaced and taken a toll on my physical and mental health. Online, my presence was full of colour and joy but offline, it was becoming a very different story.
So this year, I’ve made a conscious decision to be more mindful of my health and wellbeing. 2023 is the year of finding a home within myself again.
But what does this look like? Could I really have it all?
For me, the REAL success is to feel the way others do when they see, wear and experience my work: uplifted, confident and boosted. Your body is home to your most precious possession: your soul. My adornments are designed to enhance your soul’s home, but looking after your soul is something only you can do - and I had forgotten to do this myself.
With this in mind, I made myself hit pause so I could step back and look at every aspect of my life. I needed to step off the hamster wheel and reframe the success narrative I had been feeding myself.
Upon reflection, I realised that I needed to tweak a few things and put new rituals in place. Here’s what I’m doing:
Working intentionally: I took time off designing in January and February to reassess my approach to APL. This included doing a customer survey to understand the community we serve and build a brand which is mindful of their needs as well as my aspirations. For me, this looks like giving projects space and not constantly releasing things. In other words, ensuring there is rest between two deep breaths.
Adorning my space: Just as adorning your physical self can help you feel more confident and powerful, I realised through lockdown that adorning your space also has an impact on how you feel.
So I spent some time at the beginning of this year turning our spare room into a safe space for me to rest. I use this space to journal, meditate, do yoga - 15-20 minutes a few times a week - and to just be still.
Having a safe space to let go and come back to myself without distraction has been really important for me. In this room, I have my yoga mat, nice cushions, candles, plants and fairy lights. This has also got me thinking about designing a homeware range for APL...
Feeding my soul: - For me, that comes from creative pursuits, being in nature and dancing. I’ve started painting again (more on this soon 👀) and even started a short DJ course to feed my love of music!
Making time for fun and joy: This has come in the form of having dedicated time in my calendar for things like coffee dates with friends; knowing I have some time out of work to be present with those I love, instead of squeezing it into an already-packed work schedule and rushing around to see them.
Processing: Getting my Dyslexia and visual stress diagnosis last year really forced me to change the way I’ve worked for so many years. For me, my processing speed is slower, so it’s vital for me to give myself more time and space, especially when doing big work tasks.
Staying aware: Knowing when my anxiety and stress is triggered and using my breathing techniques to calm my nervous system down. Breathing exercises, meditation, and getting outside to take Raja for a walk are all things I do when I start to spot those signs of stress.
Owning my voice: As I start doing my collaboration with other organisations, I’ve realised that my voice matters and it’s important to be honest about the way I am feeling.
Not being ashamed of my emotions and being an Empath: I feel everything so deeply, and that can really stir up big emotions for me. It’s been something that I’ve been really embarrassed about - especially growing up and being told ‘you’re too sensitive’. Now, I reframe it as being my superpower- this is the emotional energy that feeds my creativity.
Being easy on myself: Everyday, the way I feel differs. It will take me time to build a life that feels more balanced and authentic to what I need in order to truly take care of myself and share the best work for APL and you.
So there you have it! This is the start of me taking conscious steps to rest in between the deep breaths, and I’m so grateful to have you on this journey with me. I’d love to know what steps you take to feed your soul - let me know in the comments!
Some tools I use to ground myself that I am hoping may help you too: