I thought for this weeks blog post I’d do something a little different – cut the health chit-chat and write about me! My website has been a space I’ve been trying to navigate from the day it launched. I’ve had so many ideas and projects and lost sight of one of the most important things, my love of writing. I’m going to be putting a lot more emphasis on the blog (because I do really enjoy writing about what I do), in the hope that it may help, amuse or inspire some of you. For now though I thought I’d share 10 things you may not know about me… but this isn’t one sided, I’d love to learn one interesting fact about you (comment section below… hint, hint, hint).
1) I STARTED DANCING AT THE AGE OF 3.
I can’t remember a Sassy before ballet. Ballet single handedly made me, me! It was my entire life for 17 years. I started ballet classes at a village hall near where I grew up in Hampshire, England.. and the rest is history.
2) I LIVED IN LOS ANGELES
At the age of 7 I moved to Los Angeles. My dad works as a film composer (don’t tell him I’m tone deaf) so he packed the family up and moved us to the hub of film for three years. This was a hugely challenging time for me as a little person, I was still finding my feet, and leaving my friends and siblings at home was hard. This move was a huge turning point for my ballet, ballet was no longer viewed as a hobby; It was a strict, sometimes painful and all consuming passion that I learnt to devote everything to. I developed my skill in an extremely driven environment, and matured quickly.
3) I FINISHED SCHOOL AT 14
I’d moved back to England at 10/11 years old. I went to two different vocational ballet schools, where both academics and dance training is combined into one day. I didn’t feel I was being challenged enough and craved the kind of discipline and attention I’d experienced with the Russian in Los Angeles. I decided to train privately with an ex-royal ballet soloist and complete my academic studies with homeschool. I trained all day, and studied all night. It was hard, but I got the job done, and completed all my GCSE examinations between the ages of 13 and 14, so I could focus exclusively on my ballet training. I was a little working machine, but I had fun doing it, and I thrived off the pressure.
4) WHY I STARTED EATING HEALTHILY
I always sugar coat what made me ‘eat healthy’ but truthfully there is a wide spectrum of reasons. I’ve talked lots before about my eczema, my injuries and food poisoning, so I thought I’d leave that out of the equation and tell you something you may not know. ‘Eating healthy’ was once my word for dieting. I was training in an industry where aesthetics is everything. In the ballet industry you will forever be judged more for the way you look than the extent of your talent, and I believe that to be a fact. The way the industry deals with this is by no means supportive or nurturing. I remember being labelled a ‘chunky’ ‘curvy’ dancer, and was continually made to feel that loosing weight was essential for my career. I was 14 at the time, completely unaware about food and entirely confused about what to do. This spiralled into two years of complete confusion when it came to what I should be eating, which dimmed my confidence and gave me lots of anxiety around my body. I believe whilst this is an extreme experience, “food confusion” (as i like to coin it) is the reason almost all of us start to think about “eating well”, we’re not entirely happy with our bodies. I was incredibly lucky to realise I did not want to conform to the wafer thin dancer I previously felt I had to be, and completely fell in love with food in the process. I had an undiscovered passion for cooking that completely transformed my life.
I’m going to go into all of this lots more in a future article I’m working on, it’s a whopper.
5) I STARTED WORKING IN THE WELLNESS INDUSTRY AT 15 YEARS OLD.
Before I started Naturally Sassy I worked as the Food Editor for the online magazine Hip & Healthy… I was in full time training as a ballet dancer, had finished school and was desperate to dip my toe in another field. At this point I was already in a heavy relationship with my kitchen, and wanted to further my experience of food through cookery writing. It was perfectly timed to coincide with Hip & Healthy’s expansion into recipes. I took the reins and developed an entire ebook of recipes for their readers, and my followers.
6) MY SISTER RUNS HIP & HEALTHY
I didn’t get the gig by chance! My incredible older sister, Sadie, founded Hip & Healthy. Our mum definitely gave us both the health bug, even if it did take a little longer to bite me.
7) I GOT A COOKBOOK DEAL AT 17!
Yes. Indeed. A few years ago when I signed on the dotted line for my cookbook, I was 17 years old. It’s hilarious to write, as I’ve always felt about 40! What can I say, ballet ages you.
I wrote a whole article on how I got my cookbook deal, here. It took a mixing bowl full of sass, self confidence and self belief.
8) I’M NOT A VEGAN
I’ve never been very straight forward about the label I give myself, and that’s because I don’t have one. I intuitively eat, staying away from dairy, wheat, refined sugar and all my recipes are vegetarian. I do occasionally splurge, but never beat myself up about it. If I go out for dinner with my boyfriend and have a sugar-y sorbet one evening out of one hundred, I don’t care!
9) I LIVED IN CHICAGO LAST YEAR
Last year I moved to Chicago to dance at The Joffrey Ballet. I’d been suffering with a terrible ankle injury for six years prior to this move, and used this venture as my last chance to see if I could cope with the pain and rehabilitation. After six months and lots of (very unhealthy) steroid injections to help the pain, I made the life changing decision to stop dancing, which whilst being extremely hard has been the best possible choice for my life. The trip to Chicago helped me realise I had more than ballet. I met my boyfriend out in Chicago and made some of the most incredible friends. I couldn’t have been in a more positive mindset to make the break from ballet, with so much support in my life.
10) I DON’T HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT AT ALL.
Social media has become the most positive and negative tool. It is incredible for connecting with people, but it can make everything look like a skip in the park. I wanted my last point to be something you didn’t know about me… I don’t mind being a bit of a mess sometimes, and I am. Being a young food entrepreneur running two businesses has it’s hardships, and I’ll often be found sitting at my desk emotionally jolting between being incredibly enthusiastic and very emotional, and that’s just how it goes. I’ve learnt to accept the process, because every hard day just makes the great ones even more gratifying.
Picture credit: Riley Donavan