THE CASH FLOW

It seems like only yesterday we were all on a level playing field.

Only really able to afford H&M, Primark and bits from the ASOS sale. We’d drink to get drunk before heading out and we’d have a similar amount of pennies in our purses.

In the last couple of years, however, although we’ve all definitely moved on from bargain bins and can each afford at least one drink in a real life bar on a Friday night, things have changed. We’ve taken different career paths, life has thrown some of us all the luck in the world, and others, a good few curve balls. We’ve travelled, we’ve temped, we’ve climbed ladders. We’ve joined wallets with boys. We’ve changed direction. The result of all the twists and turns of our twenties has meant we now don’t all have the same amount in our pockets as before. It’s all gone a bit sort of ‘The One With Five Steaks And An Eggplant‘ episode in Friends. At times it can be frustrating, at others it can be awkward.

Luckily, my friends and I aren’t stupid. We acknowledge that our salaries range from modest to hefty. We cater for somewhere in the middle and we shop, eat and drink within our means. We lend each other cash if we need to and celebrate when the money comes a flowing. Finances are rarely a big deal, but the divide is there, and I’ve a horrible feeling it’s only going to become more obvious as time goes on. I know nobody’s talking about it, but with destination weddings in abundance, babies popping up left, right and centre, and many buying houses in the city, I can’t be the only 28 year old wondering where all the money came from, can I? And if I am, perhaps I should’ve started to think about my finances a little sooner than now.

In truth, money has never meant a great deal to me. In fact, I’ve never really given it more than thirty seconds of thought, if I’m honest. Probably because I’ve never really had it. I didn’t place any importance on it and have always spent every penny of what I’ve earned, which has been fun, but not a particularly sensible decision.

I won’t go into detail about what I’ve learnt about money in the last few months right now, because I’ve written a little something for The Coven about how I’m feeling about the current cash flow situation, but I thought it might be helpful for those of you who are also feeling this way right now, to know you’re not alone. To know that there are still some of us who can’t afford that popular designer handbag, the fancy car or a house in London. And that’s okay. As long as you’re keeping enough aside for a rainy day.

Turns out, by simply saving a little each month, cutting back on take out coffee and not buying that pair of boots you think you can’t live without can make all the difference when it comes to the big stuff.

People tend to avoid to talking about money, but I’m starting to think we’d be much better off if we did.

So let’s start today.

If you have any money saving tips or advice, get in touch. I’m all ears (and empty pockets), ready to learn.

THE SMEAR

When it comes to talking about lady bits and female health, you don’t have to ask me twice. I’m all for shouting about getting those lumps and bumps checked, which is why I thought I’d share my second smear experience with you. You know, just in case you fancied delving into the inner workings of my gynaecological health.

So for those who are still here and haven’t clicked away in horror, here’s how my second smear was notably different from my first, in case you were worried or wondering about yours.

I now have a Mirena coil.

I know right, I didn’t think it would make a difference, either. Particularly as someone who holds her IUD in such high esteem. But lo and behold, my coil made the whole experience hella more uncomfortable than my first.

Having no qualms about dropping my knickers for doctors and nurses, I naively waltzed into the surgery ready for my close up. She took her swab and I winced. Turns out, when you have a coil, your cervix is more sensitive to prodding and can tend to bleed when a smear is taken, leading to a chance of discomfort – and more frustratingly – inconclusive results.

I thought I’d share this information because, if I’d have known, I’d have popped a couple of paracetamol beforehand to take the edge off. Now you can.

I had an amazing nurse.

She was playing soft whale music on arrival and when it came to the test, she asked me to insert the speculum myself. I do realise it sounds like I went to some hippie retreat for my screening, but I can assure you, it was an NHS surgery with its priorities in the right place, making for a really zen experience.

In stark contrast, the nurse who conducted my first smear test chatted loudly the whole way through, didn’t explain what she was doing and then somehow lost my sample. I had to go back and do it again, so in actual fact, this was my third smear we’re talking about here.

The nurse I had last week, however, said she would rather her patients insert the speculum themselves as they know their own bodies and she explained the whole process to me beforehand, followed by reassurance during the whole Mirena-sore-cervix-debacle. It made me realise your practitioner really can have a huge effect on your smear experience and I shouldn’t be so quick to judge when people tell me they’ve had a bad one.

Either way, though. Great nurse or not, uncomfortable or pain-free, when that letter arrives reminding you to book your smear, just do it. Sometimes cancer creeps up on us like a bad smell. Other times, it bursts in kicking and screaming. But once it’s there, it’s there and you’re much better off catching it when it first arrives, rather than when it’s already set up home and invited its family around for tea.

So, instead of popping the envelope on the ‘to deal with’ pile, along with student loan statements and ASOS returns, to be forgotten about for months on end, deal with it immediately. Unlike jeans that don’t fit and that 8 quid coming out of your account each month, this piece of paper is crucial, and by neglecting to take action on it, you’re actually putting your life at risk.

Any questions, let me know. In the meantime, book that appointment. Thirty seconds of discomfort or awkwardness is nothing in comparison to what might happen if you ignore it.

#MEETWITHAPOEM

Working in digital marketing means I’m likely to say yes to any opportunity that involves heading offline, especially when it involves reading or writing, so when I was invited to take part in the Meet With a Poem campaign, I jumped at the chance.

I chose to bring my boyfriend along with me to Forge & Co in Shoreditch, our Julius Meinl location of choice. Instead of scrolling through our phones side by side or mindlessly dissecting the latest episode of Narcos, we sat and mulled over three poems as we sipped our coffees. I’ll be honest, it felt a little weird at first, but with the surprising enthusiasm of Ryan, we looked at Larkin’s, This Be The Verse, Plath’s, Morning Song and a war poem I actually can’t remember the name of and switching off felt good.

I think we both needed it more than we realised and it was nice to connect with each other on a level other than Netflix and Chill or arguing over whose turn it is to take the bins out (always his). I’m actually not the biggest poetry fan and have always found it uncomfortable talking seriously about literature with friends (you wouldn’t think I have a degree in English lit, would you?) but it was actually a really refreshing experience that I’d love to repeat.

I interviewed Caleb Femi, the first young people’s laureate for London and Julius Meinl ambassador, who said of the art form:

“Poetry is the one of the purest forms of conversation there is. At its best, it allows me to communicate from an honest and safe place, a place that I am seldom afforded in the everyday rush of life. The reason why I started writing poetry was because I needed a space that allowed me to talk about things that scared me, that intrigued me, that amused me, things that made me vulnerable like telling the first girl I was in love with how I truly felt about her. The important things are usually the things left unsaid and poetry gives me the courage to say those important things before it is too late.”

On October 1st, in more than 70 countries around the world, in various Julius Meinl coffee shops, hundreds of people sat down to read a poem with a loved one and I think that’s just great.