What’s been your COVID deep dive?
Prior to the pandemic, I was training as an amateur boxer, while working remotely as a consultant for a couple of tech companies. It was a good way for me to get fit, stay offline and detach myself from any work stress I may have otherwise carried with me.
Although I tried to keep that up, the closure of clubs here was a real setback for me. I had to start working out at home or in public parks. So, I left, and returned to yoga. I took my mat out of the cupboard, brushed the dust off it and I remembered that much like boxing, yoga requires discipline, core strength and the implementation of breathing techniques.
Aside from fitness, I’m a huge fan of science fiction, in any form, so having more time on my hands has meant I’ve been able to reread a few old books. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick are some of my favourites. It’s not the most diverse of authors I know but I like them.
I’m currently halfway through Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which my parents bought me for Christmas. I have to finish a couple of Stanislaw Lem books which I have lying around too.
What’s your favorite wall decoration in your home?
Over the years my confidence in my own creative abilities went downhill, largely due to internalising the negative opinions of others. My partner helped me to gain some of that confidence back, for which I am incredibly grateful. My favourite wall decoration is a framed biro drawing of a plant which I drew for him early on in our relationship. I see it as a symbol of our combined personal growth.
Worst cliche companies use when trying to nod to inclusion.
Stock or staged photos of people who aren’t in any way involved in a company is something I find a little bit odd. It seems to be done purely as a distraction, when what companies should do is hold their hands up and acknowledge the issue by honestly communicating that there is still work to do.
Fake perks need to stop too, I have coffee at home. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people want remote work and flexible hours.
“Wellness” has been dubiously co-opted by so many brands. Medito, Women in Tech Chat, and Digital Detoxes feel like they positively counter that, what inspired you to be part of their evolution?
In 2020, the global health and wellness market was valued at around $3.31 billion, so it’s no wonder there are companies and individuals out there attempting to exploit it. Personally, I have found that it’s easy to tell which companies are genuine by doing a little digging but sometimes it isn’t that obvious. If something seems too good to be true or if your gut tells you something isn’t quite right, give it a miss.
Women in Tech Chat is a community that exists to inspire, empower and advise. It was started in early 2016 to draw attention to the significant lack of diversity within startups.
In 2017, Digital Detoxes was created to support and amplify the voices of everyone interested in the ideas surrounding digital detoxes. However, I soon realised that what people wanted was more practical advice, so I used it not only to share the experience of others but also as a platform to share actionable methods for those who wanted to spend less time on their devices.
I became interested in the Medito Foundation because I firmly believe in putting people before profit, something that most wellness companies preach but don’t practice. We had a couple of conversations before I asked if they’d like me to record some meditation sessions for them. As it’s all voluntary, it takes me a little while but I’m so happy that I have been able to contribute to such a great cause!
You’ve written a lot about the value and production of art, give us a hot take on NFTs.
I absolutely believe that NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are the future. As someone who has held, bought, sold, tracked and been hacked over the years, my interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain continues! The unique and individual nature of the NFT is what has truly captivated me, its digital scarcity reminds me of physical luxury products as they tend to be custom-made (think haute couture).
I should probably check on my CryptoKitties! In terms of art, provenance is something that digital artists particularly struggle with, it can be hard to truly determine who created what first and when. NFTs take some of the guesswork out of that, when artwork is created as NFTs, it is easier to prove ownership and originality.
The use of NFTs in the arts could hold the potential for more philanthropic endeavours, as in tech for social good. I imagine the NFT 2.0 is going to be part of our everyday lives in far more ways than we realise, event tickets, transportation and security will just be some of the ways we’ll use them.
Has impending motherhood changed how you see certain brands, or marketing and advertising directed towards parents?
Absolutely, never have I received such an excessive amount of targeted advertising in my life. Luckily, as someone who has worked to convince and manipulate others into buying products they don’t need and lived to regret it, I’m immune to marketing ploys.
My parents are incredibly down-to-earth people who taught me well. My mum gave me a lot of newborn clothes that she had in storage from when we were little, as well as some items that were picked up secondhand.
My partner and I don’t tend to follow design trends. We buy products that are made to last, such as a wooden high chair that can be adjusted and used from the age of six months to ten years, which seemed like a better investment! I’m quite lucky too that even in the third trimester, I still fit into most of my clothes (except the odd pair of skinny jeans) so there was no need to go overboard buying maternity clothes.
Buying a new car seat is important as well as glass (rather than plastic) bottles, but don’t be fooled by brands or influencers when making those kinds of purchases. Babies don’t care what the nursery looks like, they don’t care if your disposable breast pads are a store brand and they certainly don’t care if their onesies are designer.
Don’t get yourself into debt in order to brag about things that don’t matter. We as consumers need to remember that social media and salespeople shouldn’t dictate our purchasing decisions.
Give us a TV recommendation.
We don’t own a TV as we decided that projecting onto a white wall would be better for our eyes before bed. This largely relates the fact that blue light emitted from screens tends to suppress the release of melatonin, which is crucial for getting to sleep.
Plus, it’s like having a home cinema, which has been really nice during lockdown. We opted for a reasonably priced projector with a Fire TV Stick plugged into the back.
At the moment, we’re working our way through The X-Files. The writing and acting is just incredible. We like it so much we’ll probably dress up as Mulder and Scully for Halloween.
What mindfulness exercise are you doing these days?
We don’t use our phones at the dinner table so that we’re able to eat more mindfully and we don’t keep our phones in our bedroom at night so that we can sleep more mindfully.
Those two things in particular are small changes that can make a huge difference to your life. I use breathing exercises in a lot of situations and I recommend practicing a few in order to find the one that suits you best.