Monday, 31 March 2014

Sacred Moonchild Chic

I'd like to dedicate a post to the alternative.

I don't think of myself as alternative. I think of myself as healthy. I think of myself as reasonably stylish (to various degrees, depending on mood, occasion, states of readiness).

But then again. I like to take inspiration regarding health and wellness from online communities, usually from people who live in California, to which I've never been, but, from what I can tell, has a vastly different culture to the one I know, and is full of a lot more extreme lifestyles and habits. I love doing this, with a passion.

But, I can tell you now, it's not normal. Not here, in my hometown, at least.

I'm also a Social Anthropology graduate. That is, I studied the 'different'. Anthropology opens your eyes to the possibilities of living in the world... almost everything we think of as being innate to our being can pretty much be contested with an obscure example from an anthropological study.

Take your vision. We live in a world where aesthetics, whether we like it or not, are paramount. Whether we give a shit about the way we look, our surroundings, etc. - unless we have a disability - we consider vision to be our primary sense. It's how we connect with the world. It's how we make sense of it. Think about it.

I mean, how else, right?


Take the Onge people of South East Asia. They manoeuvre the world using their noses. Their sense of smell is their primary sense for connecting and understanding the world around them. Instead of saying "how are you today?", their equivalent is "how is your nose today?", and they describe things in terms of having a heavy or light smell.

Well, the first time I heard that, the world as I knew it turned upside down. Amazing. And, on a three year degree, it was one of many.

Yes, I like to consider the alternatives to the 'every day' life I'm confronted with in my hometown. And back to health: I do live an alternative lifestyle when it comes to my views and how I care for and nourish myself. Living away from the city, and meeting new people in a small town, I am reminded of just how unusual my habits and outlooks are (though, maybe it is different in California?)

And you know what? It can be pretty lonely. Not enough to make me move back to London, but still.

As a future Ethnobotany Msc student (the study of plants and human culture... I just received my acceptance today!) I am fascinated by plant use and properties. So, in a twist from academics to celebrity culture, I was thrilled to read about the actress, Shailene Woodley, in Gawkers 'Your Guide to Shailene Woodley, America's Sacred Moonchild'. (Yes, I did watch 'Secret Life' until it got too bad to continue, but I though she was awesome in it).

Your Guide to Shailene Woodley, America's Sacred Moonchild

Here's someone, my age, firmly entrenched in Hollywood culture, yet who goes foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms, makes her own toothpaste, has a herbalist, talks about Gaia, the meaning of aloha, and feels connected to nature and, in particular, woods (I hear you, Shailene). She wears second hand clothing, rather than mindlessly consume. But, to me, critically, she still looks glamorous while being so ... alternative.

I love it. Embrace the earthly spiritual eco chic - and look red carpet hot while you're at it.

Yes, she sounds like a giant hippie. And I love it. As an introvert, I love to embrace nature. I love the natural, wholesome and 'different' to conventional society. Maybe because I've spent a lot of time around people like this at my hippie university. But maybe because it's a part of me, just not so obvious. But if Hollywood brings out more of this? I say bring it on. If there's one thing this earth needs, it's more tree hugging, Gaia-loving hippies.

Note to self: embrace the alternative.

So, thank you Shailene.


Just Like Riding a Bike

So, I've recently discovered a new freedom.

I'm a little late to this. Some of you will be pretty familiar with it, I know. But seriously. For the first time in ten years, I got my bike out and went for a good, long bike ride.

They say that you should do one thing a day that scares you. Well, I don't know if I can handle that, personally, but getting up on a bike and expecting to... balance... definitely sacred me! As an adult, these things can be more daunting. It's easier to fall over as a kid. It's never nice, but it's part of childhood. As an adult, however, we expect ourselves to be able to do everything. Because we have to. The stakes are so much higher. If we can't, if we fall over, the consequences as so much bigger.

But, then again, it's just a bike. And I did it - I did learn as a child, and as they say... it's just like riding a bike...

And oh wow... the speed, the freedom to zip past the ambling pedestrians that I used to be, the exercise - and cycling isn't just aerobic exercise, believe me (I think those who say it is live in flat country), I can definitely feel  my quads, glutes and, strangely, biceps (probably from lifting the huge metal frame), despite the fact that I am regular exerciser, whether power yoga, running, walking or (okay, light, but effective, think TIU) resistance training. I have a friend who cycles as her main mode of transport and I've always marvelled at how muscular she is for someone who does no other conscious exercise. Now I know.

I've cut my commute time in half, freed up time on days off instead of lengthily walking into town, and feel the freedom to take routes that, as a pedestrian, I probably wouldn't, given the extra speed (within limits, of course, I don't condone taking risks with personal safety).

And how did I get into this time saving, heart racing, muscle boosting form of transport?

Ever stylish and perceptually (and sometimes terrifyingly, in a sky diving, shark infested water swimming way) active Sarah Wilson, the Australian health queen of the moment:

You may have heard of her. If you haven't, you'll probably have heard of the health movement she's fore-fronting - I Quit Sugar.  While I don't altogether agree with the sugarless trend (processed and added sugars, NO, but fruit? One of the most wholesome things you can eat...), Sarah Wilson is definitely a role model of mine at the moment - healthy, compulsively active, stylish and also somewhat of a worrier (I can relate). An avid cycle enthusiast, she's even given up her car in favour of this healthier form of transport - and looks fabulous at it. What more inspiration do you need to dust the cobwebs off your bike?