Finding a home while studying in Londontown

As a student, finding a new home in London can be a task which brings great fun but great concern. My search was made simpler and easier because my university had an allotment of student residential accommodation. However, student residential accommodation in universities has become a short-supply/high-demand proposition for many students. Others, who like me are post-graduate researchers, may also have whom an in-law space or a residence hall does not fit in with their personal needs. My work directly relates to student housing and I have read extensively in the literature on what students’ suggest are important factors when evaluating their residential life experience. So, to evaluate your own needs/wants/desires in a home in London while on a course, here are just a few sensible tips.

1. Resource how you will search. There are tons of university housing and private housing search portals. These are really useful places to begin to think critically about how to engage the large and significant sorting needed to locate what you’d like.

(As a quick note, I am not affiliated with either of the above companies or their links and therefore offer them as examples of housing search portals, as starter places, without material endorsement or responsibility for their contents or use.)

2. Second, what makes ‘Home’ for you? Is it time with new people, friends, family? Do you want a ‘sanctuary’ or a ‘hub’, more of a quiet space or social activity abounding? Is it really important to you, sunlight or seeing the water? Do you measure convenience in closeness to your institution, ease of access to sights and sounds and cityscape or are you more interested in a glancing pass and a more quiet home base?

I find asking students what is important to them in these general positive ways leads to greater clarity about ‘why’ home is important, leading to better ‘what’ choices later.

3. Assess your budget! While many people enjoy living in the centrality of London, many do not. Indeed, it is just about 20-25 minutes on the Northern Line from Euston Station to Hampstead. Here, the city has some quiet country on its outskirts.

I highly recommend exploring on foot for 2-3 days, as I did, to see the sights and sounds of where you think you’d like to live. London is amazing for how it uses space at the macro and micro level. This means you may enter a square along an untouched Victorian row and exit alongside a newly modelled modern housing split. This is quintessential London, and part of what I LOVE about being here. But get grounded in the diversity.

4. Be persistent! A lot of finding and securing residential accommodation is persisting through the process of asking, often repeatedly, and being unable to locate a space immediately. One key is to start earlier than you think you should and keep trying until you’ve worked it out. A lot of opportunities will be available, always. Housing is constantly shifting and that’s totally OK. What is useful is to have a clear set of expectations and to focus searching in the area(s) and types of buildings you feel would support you, academically and personally.

5. Finally, trust yourself! Finding home, no matter where you go, often requires accepting the world in the fullness of all that it is. That starts within you, the individual, setting out on this journey. That sense of acceptance accepts resistance as an indication a place or a space is not for you. I would like you to feel safe, supported and included in your home community, either living on your own or as is more often the case in London, with others. We all have ebb and flow and to accept and trust that there is a place for you, that you will make the best of it, and that you can change anything at any time to make it easier and easier and better and better is critical to creating a new home.

You will always have a home within yourself. This means, the physical space and its place in a students’ life and experience is really a reflection of our own imagination and thought. So, feel good. Feel good than decide where you’d like to be and live and Thrive.

Yes…Thrive.

With best wishes,

Zach

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Birdsongs: awakening to Spring in Londontown

I awoke

To birds singing

Across the way on an old tv antenna

I awoke

To the sun, rising

Above the mountain top tenements of the city centre

I awoke

To the cabs hustling through

Across the black tar roads

I awoke

To the bustling clip, clapping of shoes

Across the great grey tops

I awoke

To the still air full of jasmine

Across the great criss crossing corridors

I awoke

Finding myself once again in a rampage of appreciation for the stillness and the pure positive energy and the bright hello of dawn.

With Love,

Zach

London is for Lovers.

A celebration, a Lovers take on London, and for the Love of Lifting…it is February after all, why not all the Love

Chinese New Year

This weekend I spent some time enjoying my friends. We gathered in China Town to celebrate Chinese New Year. Here, we circled around a huge table of food and jasmine tea. Er Mei. Head over to The London Foodie for great ideas on food, wine and more across the Londonscape.

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London is for Lovers.

Now, I hear it all the time, the question about London. Is London for Lovers? Well, maybe it isn’t asked that way. Mostly, I get emails from students back in the US asking, ‘is it true, is London a cold place?’ “I hear London is busy, are people nice?” To which I reply, are people nice where you live now? I’m not trying to be cute or facetious. I think someone who can be happy anywhere will be happy everywhere and anyone who can be unhappy anywhere is inevitably going to be unhappy everywhere. So, I don’t try to convince people to move or not to move because of the ‘way’ of people ‘there’. I ask the question, the question that returns the answer back to the origin of its asking, to the ones who want to know, is London for Lovers?

Lifting with Love.

Until I moved to London, I had never thought about weightlifting, powerlifting or the like. Lifting was foreign to me. Then, one random morning I met a young man who would invite me to try out this foreign phenomenon. The story of how we got to where we are is short and sweet, but being where I am is sweeter still. Since I’ve moved to London, I’ve discovered this passion for weightlifting. More important to me, I found a community. Now, I am a creature of habits. I’m not much into ‘variety is the spice of life’ unless of course that variety is my own creation. But I can’t express in words what weightlifting means to me. Not, the lifting of weights part, but the lifting with others who encourage you, who cheer for you, who show up early and laugh and smile and inspire you. People who demand you do better, demand you give more. Not through their words, but through their own example of daily practice and perseverance.

They call themselves the breakfast club. You see, the breakfast club isn’t just your ordinary group of lifting mates. Nah, we are a hodgepodge of men and women who think liquid chalk is an essential component of life and gains can be measured in waffles and bacon and protein shakes. We start at 730 and the banter and laughter and sing-a-longs to old 80s hits from the States don’t stop for hours. We are known for trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing and trying, one more time. We are known for our energy, for our tenacity. Breakfast Club isn’t just a name or a title or a group of people, it’s an idea. It’s an idea that we will show up, we will work hard, we will try hard and we will keep going. Breakfast Club is about never being done and never getting finished. Well, at least not til lunchtime… 😀

London is for Lovers.

From London with Love,

Zach

Google: opportunities in how we Search

Google is Search:

Google is a global company. With offices all over the world, including several in London, Google footprints and search terms are in the sky, in our phones, on our desktops. This deeply integrated platform is in almost every aspect of human life. So what’s new? Why is Google so important? What are they doing to drive their own development and improve human experience?

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The GooglePlex in London:

Well, last week I had the chance to traverse the GooglePlex in central London off St. Giles. The building is this immense multi-occupancy complex with security badges and everything. There’s only one general way in and out. Once inside, you are sort of swooped up by this whimsical sense of Play. No wonder, the use of color and artsy, stylistic typography in every sign definitely communicates a ‘playground’ atmosphere. However, while it may feel light, you can feel there is an energy of focus in the building.

Floor after floor you are swept through multi-purpose spaces. Zones for collaboration, cooperation, collecting and collating ideas. In short, searching. Here, master craftspeople throw ideas back and forth. Here, you sip quad-shot espressos, play ping-pong, and attempt to solve mega problems using meta-data and ask…what’s going on? why is it happening? can we bring some resource to the situation which improves it? can real world problems be managed through the use of data driven decision-makers? The answer, is in short, Sometimes. Perhaps, more often than not, the answer is Yes!! But there is something in Search which allows for expansion. For more to be gleaned and gathered.

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Google: OK Google...Search

Now, being in education, my focus of study is student housing. I look at how student residential accommodation influences student personal development. Cool stuff, I think. But what’s more cool is how I see a problem and I go searching for ‘what’s going on, why that’s important, and how I’d like to address it’. That’s basically the short template of a PhD thesis in England. “What’s going on, why is that important, and how are you going to figure out how to address it?”

The point is, Google sparked something in me I wasn’t expecting. My trip called me to discern, what’s the issue I am trying to address, why is that issue important to people and how do I propose to deal with it? The experience of meeting innovative people is that they have, at their core, a skepticism that we are ever ‘done’ or ‘solved’ in a problem. Instead, the focus is on creating new means and ways of addressing what are long-standing or short-lived issues in human life.

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Google, Search and Saying ‘Yes’ to what you find…

I found my Search in Google to be both inspiring and enlightening. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE being a student ambassador because of the friends I’ve made. I don’t know if I would have found such adventure these past few months if not for the occasional catch-up with my friends. Friends who were perfect strangers before I came to London, before I was adopted into the LUIP. It is this year of fun and cool experiences. And that’s the important bit, from today. The experiences that have come from searching, from saying Yes to opportunity. To Googling and playing and pondering and asking good questions and then trying to ask better ones.

Better questions: Filtering your Search Findings…

Google offers us 9 Notions of innovation to sift through and filter your search results, after all, there are hundreds of thousands of millions and billions of possibilities. But what’s the right one? Actually, what’s the right and best one, for me? Try this…

1. Customer need = creative inspiration 2. Ideas come from everywhere 3. Fail quickly and learn    4. Allow ideas to morph 5. Creativity loves constraint 6. Share everything 7. Data informs decision-making 8. Users come first 9. Have a license to pursue your passions

Ask really really good questions. Then, go ask if you there’s a better one. Or, Google It.

My very best,

Zach

Adventure is out there…

I want to talk about three things today. Just three, but three really important parts of my life right now.

1. Devotion, 2. Friendship and 3. Adventure

1. On Devotion.

I have lived and studied in London for over 18 months. If you ask me what I appreciate most, it’s the people. My supervisor is an incredibly patient, caring and contemplative person. His work and my work have a lot in common and some stuff that’s different. He can see my passion, but always, he is asking me to think about reason. Yes, yes, reason. Said better, ‘how is this useful’? How is this useful? I have devoted my life to my life’s work. To which he often replies, that’s nice. But that’s not enough. If you genuinely want to do great work you must consider what you are talking about, why you want to talk about it and how you want to discuss it. These must be clear. Otherwise, we are passionate animals but we live in an age of reason. Not disconnected, not cold. Rather, reason is now an expectation when we discuss ideas which travel past an individual, into groups, and onto the planet. Devotion is grand. Love your work, that’s nice. But bring me something I could take to a coffee shop and speak about and people will understand. Then, you’ve done something special. This can feel heavy. My devotion can be weighty, but my friends, all of them, in so many shapes and forms, have given my path guidance, and, as is often best…just a chance to laugh and frolic and be Free. My devotion to my work is very important to me, but my friends remind me that there is more…always more…than just my work to enjoy in this life.

2. With Friendship

With friendship comes fun. Yesterday, as part of my London University Ambassador Program I had the privilege of learning about the origins and history of the London Tube. It is, was, and will likely be…AWESOME for a very long time. Sitting in the back of a small room at the top of main headquarters, (I was late to our preso, so of course, I’m at the back)…our historian (David) captures the interesting social, political, economic and cultural forces which interplay in how the Tube has developed over time. From a mash of private railways to a conglomerate of public transport. Awards and advances have been racked up over the years. Behind all of this, there is this incredible sense of connection. How a person and people connect to their city. How this connection creates a relationship between a person and their home. It’s astonishing to witness how time has shaped this transportation operation and how I take for granted the incredibly energy that has been and is required to keep it up, to permit me to stay ‘connected’.

Now, to the friendship part. I am a LOT of energy. Trust me. My friends have bared witness to this often and yesterday was no exception. From the moment ‘hi’ to the end of the day I am bringing brash and sassy. And it is amazing to have that space, to connect. What is a Tube good for except to connect people to one another so they may connect to each other? This, I will leave as an open quest. I study housing and how people create/co-create home. For me, there is an underpinning which is permissible because of incredible systems of human movement, individuals and in mass, which allows for friendship to be both possible and probable and powerfully purposeful. And life to have purpose, to have value for me, must have joy and Adventure…

Below, Jen and Edgar. This picture captures the essence of their Spirit of Selfie Awesomeness. And thank you: for having the Courage to walk through the park, arm in arm, for getting lost for 30 seconds when we went straight instead of right, for laughing all the way from 55 Broadway and for generally allowing me to be ridiculous without feeling ridicule. #selfiesof15

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3. Towards Adventure

Adventure. That is what I feel when all the barriers to being are off. It is this unwavering sense that you are exactly who you are, exactly where you are and doing exactly what you mean to do, always. Adventure is safe. Safe in knowing that things are turning out for the best, always. Safe in knowing that the sun rises and sets and you can do anything you’d like with today. So go. Go and play. Laugh as much as possible. Be a little random. Take the stairs instead of the lifts all the time. Stop in one of your favourite coffee shop on the way home for a second cup. Because one of the greatest lessons I have learned from my time in London is that adventure is around every corner. From the buildings, to the people, from the food to the drink. From the vibrant arts to the slow walks in Hyde Park. From the top of buildings to the seats of classrooms. From time to time, take a ‘time-out’ and Adventure. Perhaps, one day, you will find Adventure isn’t just out there…it’s within you. However far you’d like to Dream you can Do.

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My best, always,

Zach

5 small reminders…to stay grounded…in a global city…at a global university.

I…

I want to write. I need to write. I am an academic. It’s what I am supposed to do. I’m supposed to write. I’m a student. I’m a PhD student, in the middle of a large university, in the centrality of a global city. Perfect. I know where I am at. I know some of the identities I get to make a claim on. I know I am here, and I know I am writing because I believe in words. I am a writer because I believe words have power, they have an energy. The power and energy of words is significant. Power and energy and the words which inscribe and express are like the people who use them, who leverage the written and the spoken, the contested and the debatable. I know the power and energy of words is significant because I have used words my whole life. I have used words my whole life to express, to explain, to explore, to understand. I want to write. I need to write. I am an academic. That’s what I am supposed to do.

I have been sitting a lot recently. I have been sitting at home, I have been sitting at coffee shops, the usual haunts. I have been sitting a lot, grappling with what has been swirling around me. I have been sitting, so I can try to find some stillness. I have been sitting a lot recently. I have been sitting at the window. I have been sitting at the gym. I have been sitting at the table, talking to my friends. And I have been listening. I have been sitting and I have been listening. I have been listening, not with my ears but with my heart. I have been sitting and I have been listening from a space in my soul. And I have been trying. I have been trying and I have been sitting and I have been listening.

And the words are a lot. When you are a writer, and you sit a lot, and you listen a lot, I think you start to feel a lot. And often when you feel a lot it can get kind of sort of difficult to know, sometimes, where you are sitting, and what you are listening to, and what you are hearing. And I have been listening a lot and I have been thinking a lot about what I have been hearing. And I have been hearing a lot and feeling a lot. It’s a lot. And I have been retreating a lot. I have been sitting a lot and writing a lot and reading a lot and thinking a lot and retreating a lot. I have been retreating and quieting a lot.

And I have come to 5 small reminders. These 5 small reminders are for a world which doesn’t need my ten-cents, my privilege, my aggrandising. These 5 reminders, in no particular order, are as much for me. I share them because I am permitted, for any number or reasons, to believe in my words. I am an academic. I am an educationalist. I am a writer. I am a thinker. I am one, of many, who have trust that what I offer I offer because it means something to me. That’s how I live, like life means something to me. Like the lives of others means something to them. And that we have only to write, to listen, to sit, to hear, to share, to be…

1. The world is a complex place, filled with complex space. Appreciate its beauty.

2. Spend your time as you would spend your fortune, for its expansion of experience. Appreciate your beauty.

3. Diversity of thought and opinion can lead to an unfolding that doesn’t have a predictable outcome. Appreciate the beauty of unfolding.

4. Care deeply, sit quietly, listen fully, and allow totally. Appreciate the allowing part…it’s important.

5. More than being right, than being first, than being an independent thinker, being here has taught me that I need a team…a group…a tribe…a family to keep calm and carry on through every day.

Appreciate that others will show up for you like you show up for them.

I want to write. I need to write. I am an academic. But mostly, I want to Live. I want to Live fully.

Live fully.

My very best, always

Zach

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Taking a Holiday Home.

I know, it’s crazy, but I feel inspired to talk holidays and travel. After all, the world goes spinning on and oh what a delight it is to be moving on such an adventure!

Step 1: Please, take a Holiday.

It isn’t about being cliche or cute or whatever. It’s about balance. It’s about harmony. It’s about not having to always be ‘On’ 24/7/365. Travel has taught me,well, everything I know beyond the really amazing home I grew up in. I just kind of sort of wanted to keep that going throughout my life. I wanted to create that sense of goodness and wellbeing always. This always wanting to feel those same amazing feelings I had as a kid meant I’d have to keep learning, keep appreciating, keep journeying and keep constantly inspired by exploring the world. So I did.  Along the way I learned a lot of new, and sometimes, not so knew ideas. One of the most important ideas I’ve encountered so far is sometimes, doing nothing, is the greatest self-gift anyone could ask for.

Step 2: Early on…

Early on I was hesitant to travel. Now, you might think it’s funny that I left the US for London with this great spirit of adventure. The great spirit of adventure soon faced self-created realities of coffee talks and river walks. Alongside being a student and balancing finances was and is this constant sense that there is still more to see and do and I can do it, so I should…I must…lest I miss out…oh, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), how I appreciate thee.

Even with FOMO, part of harmony for me is being able to travel when the chance arises. Many times, it is my friends who are staying in nice spaces in exotic places. From time to time they will invite me along. Sometimes it is to share a room, a couch, whatever…I’M SO THERE! Other times I pull up a seat outside a coffee shop and hang out with people I’ve known from 5 minutes to 5 years. Always, for me, moving from space to space and place to place is not only part of how I learn, it is part of who I am. I Love gathering the fruits and veggies of people and place and space. This seems almost engrained in me. From early early on in my life I knew I would be nomadic. I was never done, never finished and never bored. But that is another more introvert-like tale for another day. HERE, I am sharing just a bit of what I’ve been able to see/do since leaving jolly ol’ England on 06 December…

Step 3: Create your own end-of-term date

For me, school term closed a week early. I boarded a tube to Heathrow Terminal 5, boarded a plane to San Diego, California. Then a train and then an a plane and finally an automobile. By and by I watched the singing and the dancing and the festivities unfold. Landing I quickly moved into my parent’s home. From home I gathered my things together to take a train ride up the California Coast to San Francisco. From San Francisco I went back to San Diego and drove up to Palm Springs than over to Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles. I wasn’t in a hurry. I was slowing down. I was stopping for coffee. I was stopping for good meals. I was stopping for restoration. I was starting to feel restored.

Step 4: Restoration

Restoration takes guts. It isn’t glorious to call a ‘time-out’. It isn’t some great epiphany of knowledge to learn and know, right now feels like a good time to take a break. I know. But I Love that I know myself well enough to stop when I feel I should. I feel a lot. I think, like a lot of people in my position, from the moment my eyes open til the moment I fall asleep. In between I am trying to think through some cool stuff and not so cool stuff. But always, always, always, I am harmonising efforting and doing with quieting and attending to my internal happy-meter. Travel is restorative. Travel is like active yoga, you discern and do but you don’t worry about it…you just go.

Step 5: Settling in and settling down

If I can take a second to make a request, it would be this. Please, from time to time, Turn Off. Turn off the TV, the cell-phone, the pagers (I know it’s 2014 but pagers are coming back…I can feel it). Turn off the lights, turn off the talking. Turn off the doing. Turn off. Turn off the crazy, turn off the bombardment of more and more and more. Turn off trying to grow the number of things that can be accomplished in a single hour. Turn off the number of life-achievements you keep trying to add to your already impressive collection of good vibes. Turn off the want. Turn off the conditional need to accumulate without knowing why you are doing so. And I ask this because, as I have traveled, and as I have accumulated memories and trinkets and friendships and lovers and knowledge and all these things…I have learned…Step 6.

Step 6:

“We are all just walking each other home.” -Ram Dass

PS- Some pictures from my travels!!!

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With Love and Appreciation,

Z

Houses of Parliament and the built environment: creating contested space across time

This last weekend I had the privilege of touring the Houses of Parliament. My couple of hours with friends grew my appreciation for the history of England, politics and the influence of built environment on both.

1. History Lesson

London is rich with history. One of the many reminders of this history are proffered by the city in its buildings. Gravitas pours out of the bricks. From gothic to victorian, brutalists to the sharp lines of steel and glass which blanket modernity, the city rises. The city speaks its heart like an endless memoir.

At the heart of the heart, so to speak, are the builders…the risers and shiners, dreamers, activists and doers. Move, shake and bake but just don’t stand still, the city will rise and the moon will fall in a blink.

Enter the Houses of Parliament…

2. Houses of Parliament (aka Palace of Westminster)

As you move about the city, you look for its heart. Some may point to the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, or the Halls of Justice. But the start of the River Walk are the Houses of Parliament. Here,  a coat of regal energy has been poured over. The building is not for the faint of heart, it’s literally under re-construction as I type away. Here rests and revives not a single memory but a universe of time and space in history. Rising from the River Thames,

My friends and I gathered in a queue outside the Palace of Westminster. Parliament is deceptively moderated with open yards and quiet statues. Lining up outside you get a go at the structures’ facade. Bricks and statues greet you as you rumble towards the screening rooms.  Line after line of the movers and the shakers, shape shifters and like have passed through the halls just on the other side. In the never ending story and shadow of Big Ben, the building is sharp, specific, empirical in its calculations.

3. First stop, Westminster Hall…

Greeted by this large open theatre, Westminster Hall is the epitome of openness. Large stone and concrete rise to meet a wood ceiling with imposing rafters reaching from one side to the other. The hall is cold. I know, it’s wintery now, what would one expect? But it is open, and clear and it doesn’t hold you. You must keep calm and carry on. You walk up to a set of simple stairs which level you up to another hall lined full of fresco paintings and statues of historical figures. Down a corridor you travel to a Queens Entry. Here we sit for a moment to take in some of the more crucial details of our journey. This short hallway greets the royal party, Her Majesty now.

4. The Queens Dressing Room…

Step from the Queens Arrival Hall and you are greeted by this immense room with plush red carpet. Frescos paint the walls and bronze coloured wood carvings line the space. Here, the King Arthur of old greets the Kings and Queens of now. Such rich history, grandeur and an atmosphere of focus eases you through.

5. Lords Seating Room…

Step out of the Queens Dressing Room and into the Lords Seating Room. Here, the lineage of hundreds of years arrives daily. Don’t worry, this stately room is wifi equipped. Large chairs covered in deep burgundy leather spot the floor. Wood tables are simply placed around this centrality. As you move through, you enter the Lords Chamber.

6. The Lords Chamber…

Here, you are greeted by the Royal Seating area, covered in detailed woodworks and clad with gold. Long rows of deep burgundy leather clad benches flow from this great chair. The smallness is striking. The long benches face one another in an almost built-in optimistic alignment. Here, discourse and discussion no doubt rises from this space…perhaps described in a word, momentum.

7. Leaving the Lords Chamber you move towards the House of Commons…

Passing through the vaulted ceilings you step through the corridors of marble. Small rooms shoot off from these main routes. On the way towards the House of Commons we sit and explore how modern day life meets history. Voting members can show up to the House of Commons and ask to speak with their MP. If the MP is unreachable, a note is left and contact promised in the future. The idea that one can show up and ask to speak with their representative highlights an oldish promise of past democratic idealism…representation through presentation.

8. House of Commons…

The first bit one notices upon entering the House of Commons is how it mirrors the House of Lords. Literally a reflection, but with green coloured benches instead of burgundy, this space is littered with prayer card keepers. A single long wooden table with trunks and microphones well placed. An alignment with history is pronounced. While there are hundreds of MPs there are not hundreds of seats. No doubt matters arising which call great attention fill this space. Again, the sides face one another, a simple and subtle but no less important reminder that leadership in central London is a complex debate, timeless by design. You cannot but appreciate the totality of the space, the care that was taken to recreate it with such specificity in its contents as to reflect back towards the Lords Keep.

If you are ever about, ask about the ritual of calling to the queen…you’ll find the interesting interplay of people, props, and purpose intersect to create a stage for the state address.

9. Coffee Talk…

The tour ends back where it begins, in Westminster Hall. Here, we wrap up our thoughts and remember how the built environment focuses people into a place.

Following forward, friends and I sit and contemplate the space. No doubt many questions and ideas have been brought to bare on this place. I am humbled by the play, the history which is precisely placed all along any journey into or out of the Palace of Westminster. Many times I have passed but never entered, now upon entering, I have a deeper appreciation for the alignment and source of this space into London, England, and indeed the world.

10. Mints

“Life is an Adventure.” -David McDonald, my dear friend who lives in San Francisco. Let it be good for you. Allow it be be good for you and savour the deliciousness you are provided…

Until next time, My deep appreciation and very best. xZ

 

London as Muse: Coffee, Evening walks, and a Time Out for Londonist.

No, Toto, I’m not in California anymore…

London moves, fast. On or off the Tube, in or out of work, to and from dinner. Wherever you are and wherever you’re going, chances are your moving with the city as much as through it. Speaking of buzz, have you heard of Time Out- Londontown? IF NOT! Super helpful for distractions, opportunities to meander, and generally muse about Londontown. In addition to Time Out, why not Check Out, Londonist. Here, some fun and fancy snapshots of the city and pop up news about coffee, cakes, the South Bank Holiday Market. This is a brilliant bit of fun, crafts, and treats!!!

As London moves fast, how about we slow down….

Slow down I say, SLOW DOWN! Yes, it’s fun to hustle and bustle, but why not stop…sit…and enjoy some of the architecture.

I have a passion for coffee. Many people drink it, more people have heard about it. So what’s all the fuss about London Coffee you say? WELL, a lot of it has to do with places like  The Espresso Room! Say you’re wandering about in Russell Square. Well, I vote for Espresso Room near Great Ormond Street. Here, you can slow WAYYYYYYY down and chill out and mellow into some excellent coffee, outside on a few nice square wood benches and observe the world as it buzzes by!

If you’re lurking nearer Great Titchfield Street, check out Kaffeine for a simple flat white, some Aussie Love, and a great atmosphere!

I frequent both shops fairly often for fun. It is a nice break from the books, the computer, and the hustling.

London moves, and you’ll move, but take some time to enjoy the views…

There are gardens. There are parks. Near me is Regent’s Park. Regent’s Park is an amazing display of flora, fauna and early morning jogs in this lovely mix of green grass fields, meandering streams and ponds. If you are ever near Euston Road, do pop in to The Espresso Bar. It’s an amazing treat for cake and good espresso.

Well, now that we are full of caffeine, time to get back to the books. Be good to yourself, go fast but don’t hurry, take a little time to enjoy the view, and remember…Life is supposed to be Fun and Good For You.

Until soon,

Best from Londontown!

In Remembrance. Remembering to appreciate with friends and food.

“Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.” -Rumi

Now, you’re here. You have landed softly into this amazing world of worlds, London. You want to focus. You are academically inclined, so you start there. You read. And than you read some more. You hear this catchphrase, keep expanding and growing. Sure. I’ll do my best. And you sort of wrap yourself up in the work, in the academy, because that’s what you know to do. The academy is what you do best.

Folks have to sort of deliver you away from all the hustle and bustle of your studies. You get to go and gather in the middle of Whitehall. You run around, eating muffins and jelly donuts. You appreciate the veracity of the spaces you encounter. Towering white walls with huge banks of windows. A run here and there to see an old pub and a queen’s conference. And London, London is given a chance to be new to you, all over again. You slow down. You allow the city to call you in. You step in and out of traffic, sidewalks are bustling and everyone seems hustling but this time, to Remember.

This last weekend my friends reminded me to Remember. Remember to slow down. To wander. To not be so focused on the ‘stuff’ so often pre-defined as what matters. Instead, take a scavenger hunt with strangers around this district and that. Hop on and off the tube with your Lucky Ladies team. By the way, when asked if we should reconsider the name, I strongly requested we stay with it. I had a feeling, we were in for a treat, and, I was right.

I remember now how I was lucky. To be sorting myself out with such bright spirits all around me. Running here and there, climbing Lions in Trafalgar Square. Commenting on the line to sit in the queen’s courtyard. And the look, in the faces of others. The look which stated, without words, Remember that you are here. Here is your now. Spend your time wisely. We never know when or how we might not have more time to: laugh out loud on the Tube, discourse on the State of the US, talk about the excitement of architecture which so powerfully reminds one, at every step, you are in a space of gravitas. To find ourselves on Brick Lane having great Indian food and talking sports. Remember.

Remember to stay free. Free, not some abstract way, but free in the way you appreciate how you can decide and define the course of your moment to moment being. Remember you are becoming at every step along your path. Remember that others have protected, defended this keep you call freedom. Remember that no one guarantees this will last long or be an extravaganza. Remember that London is synergy, uncoupled from its prior moments in time. Running around with friends you appreciate this. Remembrance makes you appreciate you are connected. In such a global, bustling city there is a moment to defer, to reflect, to slow it all way down, and remember…when you are here you are Family.

So, please, remember to slow it way way down. To appreciate every opportunity you have. Say ‘YES” to what feels good. And, from time to time, allow for a little magic…like finding a coffee shop with HUGE caramel meringues in the window down from Brick Lane.

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“Life is an Adventure,” Be Bold. Be Free. Have Courage. Have Fun & Remember.