Thursday, 27 December 2012

Steps Towards Your Dream Life - That you can do today!

“Wow, you are so lucky!”

That is the most common comment I get when I tell people that I am a nomad, moving from place to place every 2-6 months, working remotely and exploring the world first hand. And I hate that comment. I am not lucky; I am determined and goal oriented. There is nothing special about me that allows me to live my dream life. I was not born with Hermes wings sprouting from my ankles. I take risks, I work hard and I dream big. That is it.

In this blog post, I will tell you four steps you can take today to make a similar shift in your own life. I do not aim to make you a nomad, unless it is your genuine dream life. What I will do is challenge you to reach for what you truly want and help you on your way with concrete actionable tips.

1. Preparation

What you are about to do, you should take seriously. It could very well change your life. It changed mine. You are about to dig deep into yourself, and you can’t do so when you are constantly interrupted. Even the potential for interruption is a nag on your mind that you can’t afford.

First, clean a room, may be your bedroom. Cleaning is a great way to quiet your mind. While you unclutter your physical space, you will also be uncluttering your mind.

Then remove everything from this room that is a link to the outside. Remove the computer, phone, cell phone and a pager, if you happen to be over 60. (It is never too late to make a life change!)

Tell anyone who might be around to not disturb you for anything short of a fire. Then lock yourself into the room. You’ll be spending several hours in here. It might sound like a long time, but these hours may be the best spent hours of your year.

2. Contemplation

For three hours, do nothing but evaluate your life to date and think about what you truly would like to do going forward with your one and only life. Allow yourself to dream big and without limiting yourself. Nothing is too crazy or out of line. Brainstorm and dream, dream and brainstorm.

Three hours might sound like a long time, but you need it. You’ll notice that your brain goes in circles, but each rotation sinks a little deeper into the quiet part of your mind to which you normally are too busy to listen.

Your goal is to figure out what you really would like your life to be. Don’t be shy. Don’t be embarrassed by your dreams. Don’t shoot yourself down. We are human beings! We all have an amazing ability to shape our world around us until it fits, but few ever try.

3. The Map

Take a pencil and a paper. On the left side, draw a map of where you are now. On the right, draw your dream life. In between, draw a map of all the concrete things you would have to do to get to achieve your new and authentic life.

The worst hindrance we ever face is our self-doubt. We resign ourselves to a life that does not fit us because it is easier than to take on the challenge to live bravely. We don’t think we have it in us. The seed of self-doubt grows in dark places in our own mind. As long as it remains in the back of our mind, it grows into an amorphous shadow that kills our belief in ourselves.

Creating a concrete map to your dream life makes the journey concrete. You can see it, and in the sharp light of day, I promise you the journey will look half as scary as when it resides in your mind.

Put your map on your bedroom wall where you will see it often. Stand back and look at it. Forgive yourself if you let a giggle escape as it dawns on you that your dream is closer than you thought and within reach!

You can let yourself out of the room now. But return and look at the map every day, and think, “What step could I take today to remove one of these obstacles in the way of my dream?”

4. Burning Bridges

When you are ready, call your friends and family and tell them that you've decided to take active and brave steps to live an authentic self-directed and brave life full of excitement and joy. Tell them about your dream! You need to tell them so they can support you on your journey. This is also a great way to stop you from backing down when the going gets tough.

You are not guaranteed to succeed, but nothing in life is ever guaranteed. If the only challenges you set for yourself are ones you already know you will succeed at, then you are wasting your life. You live once. Make it count!

My Story

Last year, I did all of the above. I went from working a dull office job to living my new life as a nomad, my true dream life, moving every few months to new and exciting places. If you want to read more about my own personal experience, then read 'New Year, New Life' for steps 1-2, 'The Map' for steps 3 and 'Rubicon Birthday' for step 4.

Good luck!

Gustav Andersson is the author behind The Modern Nomad, a site exploring nomadic lifestyles that frees people to live and work anywhere, anytime. He is a tango-dancing,steer-wrestling burner who strives to inspire people to actively and bravely choose how to live their lives.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Best Holiday Gift for Your Kale, by Kristen Beddard of The Kale Project...

In recent visits from France to England, I am always pleasantly surprised at how kale is served in restaurants as either a side or perhaps accompanying a Sunday roast. And as someone who lives in a country where kale is nearly impossible to find, I am normally over exited like a little girl on Christmas morning at the thought that I will again see kale on restaurants menus.

Having lived in New York City for fives years right at the time when kale was becoming the trendy new super-food and the Queen of leafy-greens, I became accustomed to seeing kale everywhere. In juices, in smoothies and sold as chips. I could even buy kale at corner bodegas – it was for sure the only fresh item I found there. The most common way, offered in nearly every restaurant, was the raw kale salad.

Now I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on London restaurants, so if there are places where I can get a kale salad besides Whole Foods, please let me know and I will be sure make that a must-eat location on my next trek across the Channel. For those that have never had a raw kale salad before, I want to clear up a common misconception about the key step.

The Kale Massage.

Yes, this action requires capitalization. It’s that important. Kale is naturally a tougher green, which is why it is so chock full of fiber (which most of us do not get enough of each day). Which is why massaging my kale takes the raw kale salad from something that people might think a crazy person eats to the favorite dish during a dinner party. As kale is highly alkaline vegetable, it has the perfect base taste for adding additional flavors and ingredients. I can choose to massage my kale with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes I go for lime and orange juice. For a vinegar kick, I love mixing sherry and red wine vinegar. And when I’m serving it to a group of kale-virgins, I opt for a fresh and creamy homemade Caesar dressing.

Once the kale is dressed, that’s when the fun begins. I don’t worry about getting my hands dirty and dig in. Fingertips kneading the chopped green leaves, I break down the tough fibers letting the dressing marinate each piece.

Kale never fails to take care of me, cleansing my blood with each bite and providing the detoxification and antioxidants I need to stay healthy. It keeps my bones strong with more calcium than a glass of milk and if I have a day where I don’t want to eat meat, I know kale will give me the iron I need.

The least I can do is give my kale a good massage in return.

Christmas Kale Salad
-serves 3 to 4-

For the holidays, I wanted to create a salad with the colors of Christmas and given that kale is already a vibrant green, it was easy to find ingredients to round out the other colors. The Parmesan cheese at the end is just like a dusting of snow that everyone wishes for on Christmas Eve!

1 bunch of kale (preferably the Cavalo Nero/Tuscan/Lacinato variety)
1 medium-sized red beet, raw peeled and shredded
¼ hazelnuts, crushed in a sealable plastic bag
¼ cup cranberries (or raisins if you want a less tart fruit)
¼ - ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 shallot, diced
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Salt & pepper 
  • 1  Thoroughly wash and de-stem each leaf of kale. Here is a how-to on de-stemming.
  • 2   Combine dressing ingredients together into a jar and shake. Let the dressing sit while you cut the kale so the shallots absorb the vinegar flavors.
  • 3  Chiffonade the kale and place aside in a large bowl.
  • 4  Add dressing to the kale and massage the kale for 1-2 minutes. Let kale sit at room temperature.
  • 5  Peel and shred the beet.
  • 6  Place nuts in a sealable plastic bag and crush until each nut is broken into different sized pieces.
  • 7  When ready to serve, add the beets, cranberries, hazelnuts and Parmesan cheese.

Kristen Beddard launched The Kale Project in April, 2012 as an initiative to re-introduce kale to France. By working with local farmers and restaurants, kale is slowly becoming more available in Paris. Through the use of entirely digital tactics such as blogging, blogger influence and social media, she has created a large community of kale supporters in the country. The Project plans to expand outside of Paris in 2013. You can read about the journey from farm to market to fork and discover more delicious kale recipes at the site,, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Seven Days of Media Deprivation by Emma Laird Craig - Can you do it over the Christmas period?

In “The Artist’s Way at Work” Julia Cameron suggests ‘few techniques function as a stronger jump start to original thinking than a week of media deprivation...our cultural addiction to the media has become deeply embedded, pervasive, and very hard to escape.’

Recently this young woman about town (as apple addicted as the next) said yes to the calling to go on a self-imposed media detox for one week.  The terms and blurting protestations were as follows:

  1. NO READING. Yes, that includes worthy endeavours such as novels, autobiographies, & self-development.  (Damn! I just had a new-book-buying-binge.)
  2. No newspapers or magazines, trashy or highbrow; even dart your eyes from commercials on the tube escalator; no peering over someone’s shoulder to read their Metro. (I can handle that though I shall miss the horoscopes in the supplements, ahem.)
  3. No social media. (Risk being out of the ‘loop’.  Ah heck, my relationship with it is conflicted anyway.)
  4. No movies. (But movies are pleasurable and harmless, right?)
  5. No TV. (But you’re an actor, that’s blasphemous and absurd.)
  6. No email. (Say what?  But I couldn’t possibly…insert extremely valid reason here.)
  7. No surfing the web. (But I HAVE to book my holiday flights and I don’t have a P.A. to pass the buck to.)
  8. No talk radio, no music with lyrics!  (Now we’re just getting puritan.)
Day One:

I am feeling liberated and empowered as if I am on holiday and I wonder is this the real reason I love going on holiday?  When I was in Mallorca earlier this year the info overload in my inbox and career concerns were blissfully irrelevant when breaking a croissant in the village. 

It was quite satisfying to announce to my Facebook community and regular email chains that I am “out of the office”.  Relieved, I am not available for any agendas and demands other than my own.  A downside seems I have to be present on the bus.  

First hurdle: I meet my friend for coffee to chat dreams of Bali and she has written a wonderful two-week itinerary for me.  Ah.  How do I engage gratefully with her and avert my eyes for fear of the Word Devil?  OK, OK, I looked at it.  I could have confessed to my current challenge but chose to smile sweetly.

Day Two:

I’ve spotted The 50 Shades of Grey Classical Soundtrack on Spotify.  Strictly instrumental and in foreign languages that for once I am glad I don’t understand, it is connecting me to a touch of the epic whilst I work.  I am overcome with the drive to write and organise and I like it. 

Sometimes writing feels flowing or like I am jamming with a jazz band and sometimes it feels excruciatingly muscular like how I imagine childbirth to be.  Whatever the nature of this particular surge it just must be done.  I am starting to see how much material I consume produced by other interesting people and the balance needs to be redressed.  It’s time for me to produce into this vacuum.  Out of the numerous procrastination shaving strategies, I might have just struck gold.

Day Three:

What’s going on?  I haven’t woken up on the wrong side of the bed or given up caffeine so why do I feel like a raging bull?  This is so unfair I was enjoying the pink cloud but now I just want to go on iPlayer!  Just 3 minutes of instant gratification please Mr. Commitment Policeman…

I invoke Goethe (whether he did in fact write this or not according to the academics): "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." 

Day Four:

News of a death of a loved one in the evening sends me thinking I deserve a little late night internet-love.  It’s not as creepy as it sounds.  This unpredictable turn of events shows me just how zoning out through media is an established coping mechanism.  Timely.  I crumble in bed about 11pm and watch an “it’s so bad it’s so good” reality TV show set in a certain South West London borough.  As if that’s going to assuage the sadness or bring the person back?  Hey, we all have our vices, right?  Anyway, when did this become a moral issue as well as a health and creativity issue?  I’m cutting myself some slack.   

Day Five:

Day five already?  I still haven’t touched movies, books, newspapers, and social media but now I’ve broken the camel’s back once…you know how it is; I start to negotiate terms.  Apparently this could be a reflection on my relationship with authority. 

The Oprah Winfrey Network TV hosting leading spiritual thought conversations and documenting healing breakthroughs in Chicago now doesn’t count.  Or even if it’s a lapse in the mission, it’s my dirty secret.  Eckhart Tolle proceeded to expound the merits of being “in the moment”.  It was an ironic waste of my time since I was putting down media infiltration precisely to be more available to creative inspiration “in the moment”.  I must voice my moments not consume someone else’s or I will never be on Oprah!

Day Six:

My nervous system is recalibrating and thanking me for the breathing space.  I am convinced that this is an excellent cost effective form of “stress-management”; one of the key mindset skills of a top stock-market trader according to Alistair Crooks, author of ‘The Madness of Money’.  I may not be a top trader but I want to be a ‘top performer’ in my life not burying myself in books about other people’s lives.

Day Seven:

It’s funny how depriving myself of media input has made me streamline my time into really useful and fun avenues like a trip to the osteopath or seeing Franko B’s Performance Art festival ‘Untouchable’ in deepest darkest Camberwell; or ‘hanging out’ with treasured friends as in ye olden days at university when social experience was valued higher than reading or getting ahead.


I have been instant-chat-happy on F-book complete with flirty emoticons and I am wondering if it’s affecting my ability to write complete sentences.  Much is the woe of the current English language evolution. 

What was the cost of this deprivation?  I nearly missed out on a surprise birthday party via F-book but was alerted just in time.  The only ‘loss’ has been beneficial: I have unsubscribed from multiple cheap flight mailing lists and other such colourful and unnecessary sells on how to live and consequently re-claimed the valuable headspace and confidence that I can do just fine without them.  

When I suggested the 7 Day Media Detox to a friend she responded with ‘I would love to but I just can't do it unfortunately! As I just have to be online.’ 

Consider yourself well and truly dared.


Emma Laird Craig is a British actress, freelance writer, and Co-Founder of The LabRats Theatre, a New York City based company of multi-dispilinary artists developing new work for theatre and film.  Their third theatrical season is fast approaching in February 2013 with "The Rise and Fall of a Teenaged CyberQueen" by Lindsay Joy; the story of a flawed American family uprooted and unhinged by the rapid pace of online chat rooms and video feeds.

Emma trained at Central School of Speech & Drama and the Moscow Arts Theatre after reading English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.  In London she is developing "The Venus Show" for TV drawing on the trials and tribulations of professional young women brought up on Jane Austen, brit-pop, and dreams.  You can follow her on Twitter @MissLeFlay.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Prepping for Christmas with Christy Osborne of An American Girl in Chelsea....

It’s officially countdown to Christmas time. But instead of stressing about serving a fantastic feast and giving the best gifts, relax and enjoy your family and friends by using these tips on where to locate all your ingredients and source the perfect presents.

Christmas Dinner

Prepping for the biggest meal of the year can be really chaotic , especially if you’re searching for your traditional American favorite ingredients in London. I recommend visiting Partridges, the gourmet grocery store. You can pre-order turkeys (both cooked and uncooked) and find everything you need for Christmas evening. They have REAL whip-cream for your desserts as well as Stove Top stuffing, Ocean-Spray cranberry sauce, and Aunt Jemima Corn Bread Mix. 

Partirdges is located at 2-5 Duke of York Square, London, SW3 4LY and 17-21 Gloucester Road London, SW7 4PL.

If you love having the perfect pie but don’t want to spend hours baking, I recommend ordering your Christmas pies from Baker & Spice.  Make sure if you want pumpkin to order with plenty of time. They often only bring these out for the holiday season.

Baker and Spice are located at 54-56 Elizabeth Street
SW1W 9PB,47 Denyer Street
SW3 2LX, and 20 Clifton Road, 
Maida Vale
W9 1SU.
American Girl’s Gift Guide
For the Man in Your Life: Mr Porter launched last February and it is a great go-to spot for shopping for your special guy.  The site currently has a great online selection of gifts, including stocking stuffers including cufflinks, i-phone covers, belts and watches. Visit
For your girlfriends: Austique does the greatest gifts for your girlfriends. They will also create a special gift box for you with all of their best treats including, adorable undies, sweet smelling candles, gorgeous jewelry, and lovely scarves.
Austique is located at 330 Kings Road, London SW3 5UR and 40 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 8UD or you can shop online at
For Yourself: Always disappointed on Christmas day? Visit one of the Trilogy Boutiques and ask them to create a gift wish list for you. The girls in the shop are always so sweet and helpful. While they specialize in denim (it’s one of the only places I buy my jeans), they also have the perfect tops to match. Equipment, Joie, and Tucker are some of my favourites and are always on my personal wish-list!
Trilogy is located at 33 Duke of York Square,
SW3 4LY, 63 Weymouth Street,
W1G 8NU, 22 Kensington Church Street,
W8 4EP, 52-54 Heath Street,
NW3 1DL, and 56A Wimbledon High Street, Wimbledon Village,
SW19 5EE.
For the Kids: Harrods has revamped their Toy Kingdom and created a Disney dreamland. For the little ladies, it’s all about the Cinderella Slipper Salon where they can try on sparkly “glass” slippers. For the little men, it’s all about all toys related to Mickey Mouse, Toy Story, and Cars. If you decide to take your children with you to get an idea of what they want under the tree, make sure you have them pose for a special photo in their favourite Disney costume.
Harrods is located at 87-135 Brompton Road, 
 London, SW1X 7X. 
Christy is the author of An American Girl in Chelsea. Follow the blog here.