On Being Burnt Out

I started this blog as a writing practice, to motivate me to write and to keep track of changes I wanted to make in my life but I would be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes dream of being a successful blogger or instagrammer. After all, it’s possible, the internet is full of success stories, right? Right?

Stevie, Ireland

I look at the older millennials (late 20’s to early 30’s) around me and we’re all in the same boat, more or less. We don’t know quite  how to navigate the world. Being academic minded I did well in high school and knew I was going to go to University as, I thought, all of my friends would. For as long as I could remember I wanted to study film but after my first year in University I discovered I hated film. Several of my friends and peers got married right out of a highschool and I ended up in University alone and very lost and lonely. After two years I dropped out and went travelling instead. Eventually I went back, changed my major to English and graduated much later than I anticipated. In the mean time I worked and travelled, learned another language and danced many nights away.

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I’m not unhappy with my 20’s but I still feel in some ways as if I’ve been duped and I don’t think I’m the only one. Many of my peers are unsettled and trying to find our place in the world. We are underemployed and changing careers isn’t the walk in the park that everyone lead us to believe. The internet would have us believe that we can-and should-make ourselves into a brand, side-hustle our way to wealth, that travelling the world indefinitely is a feasible goal for all of us no matter our income level and that every single moment of lives must be carefully curated so it can go on our social media “stories”. That we can meditate ourselves happy and that we can simply do away with aspects of our lives that we don’t like or that make us unhappy. Most of all, it seems to me, that somehow we are told to live in a way that realistically costs a fortune while shunning the methods that allow us to make an income. Blogs promote  courses and webinars to improve our lives that cost several hundreds of dollars. Travel everywhere no matter the cost, many a Instagram posts preach. Don’t get stuck in a 9-5 job blogs and pins shout. Sell this product at ridiculous mark up to your friends on Facebook or start a GoFundMe for your holidays or concert tickets.  I’m not here to rant about those things (more than I’ve already done) right now as I’ve done that before. Nor do I want to criticise any one of these things individually, I like Instagram, travel and meditation but I think they are working together to create a stressful environment for all of us and showing us something that is unattainable for the large majority of us. I’m not here to offer advice on how to deal with the pressure but if you can’t afford to go somewhere glamorous every weekend, if your Instagram isn’t a perfectly curated tribute to nature or your Scandinavian inspired home, if you don’t constantly throw fabulous parties and if your “side hustle” isn’t working then you aren’t alone. If you’re going into the future and don’t know where your going or how you’re going to get there, you aren’t alone.

Spring Equinox and Intentions for Spring

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The first time I really thought about spring as a time of renewal was in my first year English class in University. We were studying Chaucer. The second time was during Fallas when I lived in Valencia. It seems odd to me that those were the first times I really gave it much thought considering I grew up celebrating Easter and come from a country with very distinct seasons where a gentle spring is a much needed reprieve from long, hard winters. Still sometimes it takes another perspective to really make us think. Modern Christian traditions don’t tend to focus on the earth and nature but, city girl that I am, the smells of spring, the longer days and warmer weather, the promise of more time spent out doors make me feel closer to God/the world/the Universe. Fallas is a festival where, besides drinking and dancing the night away, Valencians construct massive structures representing political and cultural figures and norms and after parading them through the streets, set them on fire. The symbolism of irreverence for politics and culture, and spring cleaning and of course just having a lot of fun wasn’t lost on me. This spring I need to be more patient, to enjoy the moment and to find ways to make the world a better place.

The sun is shining here in Ireland but there are dark clouds too and bursts of rain and isn’t that what spring and growth are about? When we grow and learn it isn’t painless, the darkness is there but like any birth or rebirth there is pain but there is joy too.

On that note here are my intentions for spring:

1.) To not throw away any food

2.) To buy what’s in season

3.) To spend time in nature

4.) To meditate more

5.) To continue to learn

6.) To spring clean

7.) To make a habit of taking breaks from social media

8.) To spend money conscientiously

9.) To listen to others, especially to voices that aren’t often heard in mainstream media

10.) To love

Lastly I leave out with your this quote fromfaithandworship.com

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.

What are your spring intentions? How do you want to make the world better this spring, this year?

Five “30 Day Challenges” You Can Start Right Now

I know we’re already almost through February but if you’re like me this is always a hard month. As Jane Austen says in Emma

“May was better for everything than February “

I read a while ago that if you are feeling stuck in life a good way to make your life feel more interesting is to take a 3o day challenge. That is, do something every day for 30 days. It can be as simple as taking a picture or writing everyday or running daily in preparation for your next marathon (that will not be me, but hey,  there’s something for everyone). Personally I’ve been on a quest lately to finish books I’ve started but for whatever reason abandoned (generally because I still hate experimental literature even though I keep thinking I will like it if I just keep trying it, a thing that has sadly not happened). I have also recenetly started the following five challenges.

picture in post about 30 day challenges

1.) Grow some herbs
Small herb plants are available in almost every grocery store so next time you are buying your wine  groceries why not pick one up. Plants are good for your house, good for you and good for the environment. Plus growing something green makes spring seem less far away.

2.)Practice or learn a language
I studied German and Spanish in University and those are some of my fondest memories from that time. I also spent a lot of time reading in those languages and watching films in them.  Some people have criticised the simplicity of the idea that “learning a language equals learning a culture” but I found that immersing myself in a language gave me a different perspective and helped me feel more compassionate. So I’m hoping to make a practice of spending a few minutes s a day reading, watching films or listening to music in another language. Netflix has an okay to good variety of foreign films and watching one, even in a language you don’t know or haven’t studied can be a mind opening experience.

3.)Pick a person to keep in your thoughts
I originally saw this on a religious website and so its focus was on prayer but I think this can be adapted any which way. The idea is to pick a person, especially someone we may find difficult to get along with, forgive or be jealous of and keep them in our thoughts, try to see things from there perspective and try to cultivate compassion for them. I have selected two people in my life and am focusing on being kinder to them and wishing the best for them.

4.)Start a creative project
When we are creating we are our best selves but sometimes when we talk about creativity we imagine that it means writing a masterpiece or creating some meaningful modern art. I disagree. Creating can mean working on a project for the house, working on a business plan, doing a paint by number, writing five minutes a day, knitting a scarf, playing with those instagram filters or trying a new make up look. Make time, even a few minutes a day to do something creative that you love.I am personally still working on my pom pom pillow which was way more work than anticipated. That “DIYs you can do in a weekend” article was full of lies!

5.)Learn more about an issue
If you’re like me you are weary of the world these days. Everything seems  impossibly bad and there are many things to be worried about. Of course it is possible to and indeed vital that we care about all of them and all the time but sometimes it is useful to focus on one issue and learn as much about it as possible.Learning gives us focus and helps us better fight  prejudice. Now more than ever we need to take time, even if it’s 15 minutes or half an hour a day to learn, fight and stand up for what’s right and in doing so make it an every day practice. I have been listening to the Colour Code Podcast which deals with racism in Canada and have found it very useful in understanding Canadian issues and giving me tools to address it in my own life.

Well February is over in 5 days so we’ve made it through this month, hopefully we can go into spring with renewed energy and strength to make the world better and live our best lives.

 

 

50 Things I Did In 2016

image of holiday decorations in post about 2016

I hope everyone has had a wonderful and renewing festive season, however you spent it. The holidays are over and 2016 is nearly at a close so in the spirit of celebrating every victory no matter how small I’ve made this list of things I’ve done this year. Some are big, some are small,some are mundane, but all are  things that made this year what it was.

black heart 1 learned to poach and egg
black heart 2 bought flowers for myself
black heart 3 stuck with an exercise plan
black heart4 visited Sligo
black heart 5 visited a  new country (Denmark)
black heart 6 paid off my student loans
black heart 7 took an online writing course (at Skillshare)
black heart 8 and a fashion one  (at Udemy)
black heart 9  wrote more love letters and thank you notes
black heart 10 tried new lip colours
black heart 11 read 30 books
black heart  12 started this blog
black heart 13 watched more documentaries
black heart 14 re-watched The Gilmore Girls
black heart 15 reduced other debts
black heart 16 completed the 52 Lists Project journal
black heart 17 baked cookies
black heart 18 donated to charity regularly
black heart 19 improved my relationship
black heart 20 made a clam bake
black heart 21 went wild camping
black heart 22 spent more time on spiritual pursuits
black heart 23 went on a winter picnic
black heart 24 wrote more
black heart 25 and took more photos
black heart 26 went on a hike
black heart 27 visited Belfast
black heart 28 and Madrid
black heart 29 learned new make-up techniques
black heart 30 visited Oxford
black heart 31 went to a music festival
black heart 32 made something from my must-try board on pinterest
black heart 33 knit a blanket
black heart 34 discovered 2 Dope Queens and My Dad Wrote A Porno
black heart 35 made risotto for the first time
black heart 36 danced
black heart 37 went to the ballet
black heart38 and saw more plays
black heart 39 took a social media course
black heart 40 made a Thai curry for the first time
black heart 41  met new people
black heart 42 put more effort into recycling and caring for nature
black heart 43 finished Wuthering Heights (finally)
black heart 44 wrote more thank you notes too!
black heart 45 kicked my sugar addiction
black heart 46 and ate more healthy overall
black heart 47 tried a glittery eyeshadow
black heart 48 bought vintage shoes and adult jewelry (that is, not costume jewelry)
black heart 49 planned many dream trips
black heart  50 learned more about myself

On Transformation And The Winter Solstice

winter-solstice-2017

When we stop learning and changing we stagnate. I know this and yet personal transformation can be difficult. If I realise I did something wrong in the past I can wallow in guilt or stubbornly hold that I did nothing wrong. But harder than both of those things is to admit I was wrong and make appropriate changes. The first time I lived in Spain I had been saving up to travel and didn’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I brought with me one mix matched bikini, a black dress from the thrift store that went from beach to nightclub and one brown floral bag (a few other things to but you get the idea). The next time I went I brought five or six bikinis because I didn’t like only having one for the whole summer (and year round in fact). Sometimes I wonder which was the real me. Was thrift shop dress the real me or the one with a suitcase full of clothes? The answer of course is both. Changing is part of life and yet we often feel that when we change that one version of ourselves becomes null and void, that one is fake and one real, that we are trying to fool people. I love this article In Praise Of Fake Women from 2013 and have read it many times over.  Ann Friedman writes.:

Smart people evolve to stay relevant. And if you’re around long enough, changing often enough, people eventually accept it as a positive quality.

Of course wealth and power aren’t the only reasons to change ourselves. We can change for a multitude of reasons, for fun, for personal growth, because we need to or the world needs us to. Even embodying different personas is good, we are all different people when we’re at work versus when we’re at home. With some friends I’m fun and outgoing and others thoughtful and introspective but these are all the real me.

As I’ve been going through a personal time of doubting, reflection and uncertainty  I found the idea of the Winter Solstice to be particularly helpful this year. When we’re ill our bodies need sleep and rest, recover and be renewed and even when we’re healthy sleep and darkness are important for our health. Likewise times of personal darkness or introspection, creative dry spells and times when we feel things aren’t working in our favour can be vital to our growth. Even if they are bad times simply because they are bad times it doesn’t particularly help us to pretend they aren’t painful.No matter your belief system or where you are in your personal life, if you have one old swimsuit in your bag or a veritable swimwear collection, we all go through times of self doubt and pain. Hopefully we can use this time to heal and to find ways to better the world around us.

Lastly I leave this quote with you. If you believe in one God or many or none, hopefully this season will bring you fulfillment  and wisdom.

From progressivechristianity.org

Ponder the darkness as a spur to reverencing the mysteriousness of God. What place have you made for the darkness of the divine as fertile and transformative in your spiritual path.

 

image made with canva

3 Little Obsessions

Good morning world! I’m feeling very homesick and restless so I thought I’d share a few of the things that have been keeping my mind busy these last few weeks!

1.) Orphan Black
I didn’t watch the Emmys because I was at a house party and also (more importantly probably) I just can’t sit still for the 72 hours that awards shows seem to go on for. Nonetheless I was thrilled to see that Tatiana Maslany won for Orphan Black. I started watching this show a couple months ago and can’t say enough good things about it. The writing is excellent and the acting is brilliant. It’s also great to see a show that puts women characters in situations which could easily turn into tropes or stereotypes and then turns those situations and characters on their heads. The last season is airing April 2017 and while I’ll be sad to see this show go I think it’s a great move to keep things short (5 seasons) and sweet.

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2.) Bullet Journals
I’ve recently started a bullet journal. If you haven’t heard of a bullet journal, it’s a way of organising things by itemising and making lists. I don’t want to say that it’s life changing or anything because I don’t think things can be simplified that way but I am having so much fun keeping this journal!

If you want to start one go HERE for some useful tips.

image of a bullet journal

3.)Freezer Meals
Haha! I am laughing at this as I type it. I’ve never been miss domesticity but the other day I was searching through the fridge/freezer for something to cook and found some chilli I’d made and frozen. Day saved. I don’t love cooking but every now and then I don’t mind it so this week I made a few dinners and stuck them in the freezer. I can’t promise I’m going to keep up with this…but for now I’m having fun.

The Art of Doing Nothing

good for the soul

There’s nothing better than the guilty pleasure of making your coffee and crawling back into bed and spending the whole day reading, pinteresting  and watching crappy TV.  Taking time to do nothing is an art and it’s important for our mental health. This weekend  I made this healthy salad and took time to read and catch up on shows I’ve been meaning to watch.  BF and I are watching Zoo at the moment. You know what? I can’t wholeheartedly say this is a good show, the writing is too on the nose a lot of the time and the second season feels a bit like the writers weren’t sure  after season one if it was going to get picked up for another season so they had to invent extra plot lines on the go. I still like it though, it’s totally implausible and sometimes a bit of escapism is what you need.

I found A Woman in Berlin in my mother-in-law (to be)’s bookshelf and am enjoying it. Maybe “enjoy ” isn’t the right word for a book about World War II but it is indeed interesting.

photo of fall page in 52 lists project

Also time to turn a new leaf in my  52 Lists Project journal. I love this journal and I love making lists. It’s so beautiful and the lists are thought provoking and inspiring.

What do you do for a lazy day? What are your guilty pleasures? Or do you think that lazy days are a bad idea? Let me know!