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.

 

 

A January To-Do List For Your Empty Bank Account

Hello friends and happy January! Are your jeans  yoga pants a bit tight after the holidays and are you using your debit card with your fingers crossed? Yes and yes are my answers. So, on that note I’ve compiled a few activities to tide us over until things return to normal!

1.) Organise your beauty supply
If you’re like me you have drawers and cupboards full of products. I love beauty subscription boxes and tend to collect small products from hotels since I can’t stand the thought of them being wasted. Organise yourmeandlarryyestercolour make up collection, throw anything that’s out of date a way, give everything a good cleaning and then make it a mission to use up
your oldest products first. You might even discover a lipstick you forgot you had (at least that happens to me fairly often)

2.) Organise your finances
Make a budget, define your goals for 2017, make a debt payment chart anything to get you back on track!

3.)Go outside
If you aren’t heading anywhere this winter there is always something to do in your hometown. My bf and I have a special affinity for finding and loving hole-in-the-wall places and dive bars so we discovered a few of those in my city, we wandering the market  and also went to a museum and gallery. If that’s not your style you could go for a walk, have a winter picnic or get all your blankets and candles, get a book and curl up in bed.

4.)Have a broke dinner party
Everyone makes something with their leftovers and you feast! Don’t forget the leftover wine/gin/etc.

5.) Dramatically leave social media
Do as the celebs do and unplug for an hour/a day/a week/ a month whatever you’re up to. It’s good for our mental health to take a break from the constant stream of news and the perfectly cleaned up versions of everyone’s lives. Take some time to escape, to think of all the good things you did this year and to think about what your hopes and dreams are for this coming year.

6.)Pinterest your goals
If unplugging isn’t for you, get some tea/coffee/wine, download a new screensaver for your phone and make a pinterest board of the things you want or are dreaming of for this year. Pin recipes to try, projects to make (if you’re into that) decor tips for your apartment/house/room, affirmations, money or career goals, a destination you would like to visit or absolutely anything you can think of. Years ago I read that planning a trip makes you almost as happy as actually taking one so daydreaming is an important way to spend your time. Thinking about what you really want can also help you take steps to get it. When I looked over my boards for 2016 I realised that what I want from life is much clearer and simpler than I thought.

However you spend your January, here’s hoping it’s a good one!

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

We Need To Travel Better-Part 1

we-need-to-travel-better

The other day I wrote the following on Facebook:

 When we talk about buying a designer handbag or getting a manicure or going out to eat our attitude is that it’s fine if you can afford it but it’s not something vital. However, that’s not the attitude we have taken towards travel in recent years. We’ve convinced ourselves that travelling is somehow so morally superior that we should work ourselves to the ground to afford it, go into debt to afford it and judgmentally tell everyone we know that if they aren’t forgoing their morning Starbucks  in order to save up for their next trip then they are somehow morally bankrupt, that they should feel bad for not travelling more and that they will never be open minded or enlightened. Travelling is fine, just like getting a manicure is fine but let’s not forget that both of those things are consumer goods and it’s a success of capitalism that it has convinced us that channelling all of our money into one of those things makes us righteous.

It was the beginning of something I wanted to write more about. People travel more now than ever and a lot of travel talk is surrounded by attitudes that I think are dangerous. When people talk about travel it tends to have an undertone of “travel is always good no matter what”. A friend of mine shared what I wrote and there were two comments that stuck out to me. The first was an anecdotal “but travelling made me and someone I know a better person” and the second (which I will address in a follow up post) was: “well you don’t have to spend a lot to travel. I travelled around Europe for 3 weeks on 600 euros”. There are many criticisms one could make of travel but I am going to address these two here. First the idea that travel is the best (only?) way to be open minded and second the idea that travel isn’t consumerism.

I started talking about this HERE. The justification for thinking you’re better for travelling more is the idea that it’s making you a better, more rounded person and therefore is unequivocally good. But does travelling make you a more open minded person? I am going to tentatively argue “no”. Long before I started travelling I read books and news articles about other countries, I read everything I could find on any topic, I joined internet forums and talked to people I would never have met at home.I wanted to travel, of course, but I was already open minded. I’ve met a lot of open minded people while travelling but while travelling might have made them better they were already good people. Travel only makes you a better, more rounded person if it was already your intention to become that person. I can’t say definitively that no one who was closed minded has never been challenged by going abroad but I don’t think it happens often enough to warrant the guilting of people who choose to or who are forced to stay home. Furthermore there are ethical issues involved with tourism that should not be overlooked in the interest of bettering oneself. We all know that volunteering abroad or visiting animal parks might be doing more harm than good but the sentiments that “at least I learned something” or “there’s just too much research to do” are still around. Good intentions are good but the information about ethical travel is out there and we shouldn’t be lazy in researching it thoroughly. Learning something from others when they might be harmed by that is of no good to anyone and we shouldn’t be settling for it.

Since I am no expert, I’ve included the following links about ethical travel and other travel issues.

Tourism in Barcelona-The Economist

Why Airbnb Is Terrible-Cracked

Your Obsession With Travel Sure Feels Classist To Me-Ravishly

Experiences Over Stuff Is A Tired-and Sexist-Idea-Slate

Tourism Concern-Action For Tourism

Do you agree? Disagree?

Tuesday Thoughts

So I grew up on a bee farm and am not, as such, scared of bees. Wasps and hornets are another story but another story yet are the hugggee bees here. They sound like a small car buzzing around your head. I went for a run yesterday and it sounded like a chainsaw was following me. The other problem is the lack of screens. I actually didn’t realise that there aren’t any screens here or rather I realised but in the way that you need someone else to say it. Anyway, that means when you’re sitting inside with all the windows open everything comes in, a great swarm of flies (also enormous), mutant bees, mosquitoes the size of the kitchen sink. The other day I was about to take a shower and saw this huge mosquito just chilling in there. I sprayed him with wasp killer but that little asshole flew around about 80 more times and then I gave up and killed him with some bath scrub. Anyway, what am I talking about?  This weekend we were up in the bf’s parents other house which is in a little town. It was a great day so we sat outside drinking beer. Seriously nothing better than beer on a patio.

walking carrigallen

 

In the morning this was our view:

carrigallen

 

What a lovely weekend it was. And next weekend I will be doing a detox (ie: drinking water not booze (maybe))

Tuesday thoughts: Tartist Lip Paints are the actual best black heart When you’re nearly 30 you cannot go out four days in a row and feel alive the next week black heartMy family has a group chat now and their messages always make me laughblack heart Only 4 weeks until our holiday black heart I need a flower crown black heartIf you stay somewhere (anywhere) for 3 months you will get used to it black heart I love online courses black heart Trying to be true to yourself is hard and sometimes lonely but it’s the only way

What’s on your mind today? xx

 

 

~Summer To-Do List~

~Hello Sun Lovers~

Summer is almost here, at least I for one spent all day on my deck yesterday reading Cosmo and Americanah (a bit of a weird combo, I’ll agree) but it’s amazing how the sun can improve your mood! So…here’s what I hope to do this summer!

summertime collage in a post about summer to do list

30 Things To Do This Summer

~Perfect an iced coffee recipe (a story: I asked my bf to bring sweetened condensed milk from the store and he said “I don’t think that exists here” I said ” of course it does” however, I was mistaken it doesn’t exist, at least I couldn’t find it. So the moral of the story is trust what people say about their own country)~try a bold lip colour~ music festival~the beach~ make margaritas~ have a dinner party~ go glamping~ write more poetry~wear a vintage inspired bikini~ read “The Bitchy Waiter”~ make peach & wine slushies~sleep under the stars~dance the night away~ go for more walks~90’s crop tops all the time~read “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith (this has been on my reading list forever!)~wear a flower crown~take an online course~make more time for friends both near and far~visit a new city/town/country~tequila shots (nothing says summer like them)~wear florals~ try matte nails~take a boat ride~lie by a pool~ drink moscato~re-watch a favourite movie~ rock a festival inspired bag~finish a creative project~order a new art print~volunteer or donate to a good cause~watch the sunrise

What’s on your summer to-do list?

xx

Spring Renewal + 50 Ways to be Nice to Yourself

Even though it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, it is Spring, a time of renewal and rebirth. The cold gives way to warmer weather and longer days and there is the beginning of life all around us. It’s an important time for many religions as we focus on rebirth, new beginnings and battling darkness. The main thing I want to change in my life is to practice gratitude more and to seek positivity everyday. That’s not to say that I want to ignore the problems in the world but rather to have compassion for myself and others and to keep my situation in perspective. The first step to do this, I believe is to be kind to yourself.

picture in an article about 50 ways to be nice to yourself this spring

Here’s my 50 ways to be nice to yourself this spring

1.)Light candles around your house
2.)Meditate for 5 minutes
3.) Clean off your bedside table
4.) Get some fresh flowers
5.)…or pin pictures of peonies
6.) Exercise even if for only 5 minutes
(I personally hate exercise but if you keep at it it becomes part of your routine, plus  some studies show that exercise can alter the brains of people with depression or anxiety)
7.) Listen to a podcast I listen to Stuff Mom Never Told You ir The Simple Sophisticate
8.)Make a list of positive affirmations and put it on your fridge
9.) Think of 3 things your thankful for right now
10.) Eat that left over Easter candy and don’t feel guilty about it
11.) Go for a walk
12.) Read a poem (I go to Poetry Foundation, they have a featured poem everyday and they have a good variety of poets and themes)
13.)Drink a cup of coffee (or tea) by yourself and read a book
14.) Book a weekend away
15.) Or plan a dream trip
16.) Do a hair or face mask  (a homemade one that I like is 1 egg yolk +a teaspoon of honey + a teaspoon (or two) of coconut oil)
17.) Go for a drink with a friend or a partner
18.) Colour! (Those adult colouring books are popular for a reason)
19.)Have a theme night with a friend or partner
20.) Put on some “French Cafe Music” and eat a load of wine and cheese
21.) Do yoga
22.) Paint your nails
23.) Spend some time alone
24.) If you have a challenge to overcome write it down and the first steps you have to take to overcome it.
25.) Donate to a favourite charity
26.) Binge watch a TV show (My binge watches this year were Master of None, Sense8 and currently Pretty Little Liars)
27.) Or watch a cheesy movie
28.) Call a friend or family member
29.) Remember that everything doesn’t have to be accomplished right now
30.) Read your horoscope 
31.)Buy something small online and wait for your present in the mail
32.) Take a picnic or a winter picnic if it’s still cold where you are
33.) Take a day trip somewhere
34.) Go to the drugstore and hunt for some good, affordable finds
35.) Write a note for someone you love
36.) Have a broke dinner party where everyone makes something with whatever they have in their house
37.)Learn something new with youtube tutorials. The other day I watched one about flower arranging, something I’ve never thought about before.
38.) Make a shopping list of your dream purchases
39.)Unsubscribe to email newsletters you don’t like
40.)Find a short course online
41.) Download a pretty new screen saver for your phone
42.)Cuddle with your pets
43.) Or google animal pictures (might I suggest baby raccoons)
44.)Look up beautiful or unique hotels
45.)Remember that even if your friends lives look perfect on facebook and everyone on instagram seems like they live in a spotless white house and everyone on pinterest seems to have the slow cooker going while they pose for street style photos most peoples lives aren’t perfect and if they are they have worked hard to get there. 
46.)Make a playlist and listen to it in the bath with a class of wine
47.)Daydream
48.)Finish a project you started
49.) Buy a bath bomb from Lush and drift away
50.) Lastly remember that what other peopled do seldom reflects on you, everyone is in their own little world and thinking about themselves. 

Last thought…I read this quote in Julia Child’s My Life In France “I had always been content to live a butterfly life of fun” and I thought it was so beautiful.

What are your ways of being nice to yourself?