16/03/2019

What I Saw and Did in Budapest, Hungary


Visiting Budapest for the first time? Grab a notebook, here are all my tips!

First things first, little disclaimer. Budapest is huge, it is a city full of chances to explore, museums to visit, restaurants to try, and I think it would take you a good week or so to experience properly what it has to offer. My friend and I stayed two full days in Budapest only, and I can tell you, it only makes me want to come back and see more! 
So in this post, you will find a little, non-exhaustive list of the things I did in Budapest - and that you should definitely do too!

THE BUDA SIDE


Budapest is divided in two parts by the Danube River: Buda is the west side, and Pest the east side. We spent one day on each side, starting with the dreamy, picture-perfect Buda side. To get there, walk across the Chain Bridge, or Széchenyi Lánchíd, where you will find a delightful view of the banks of the river. Our February mornings were quite foggy, there were blue skies and sunshine but there was a thin layer of fog covering the buildings and giving them a mysterious atmosphere, as though they were waiting for us to come and meet them at their feet.


When you reach the other side, take the cable car, or your little legs to walk up the short flights of stairs to reach the top of Castle Hill, pausing every so often to take a picture of the beautiful landscape that slowly unfolds beneath your feet. A few sights will catch your attention when you reach the top, and they are:

BUDA CASTLE - HUNGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE - 
MATTHIAS CHURCH - FISHERMAN'S BASTION

Buda Castle is the former palace of the kings of Hungary. It stands proud, overlooking the city, and whenever you look up from the other side of town, you are sure to see its proud dome and wings up in the sky. It is a huge palace, now home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. We did not go in as we were pressed by time and excited to explore as many sights as our feet could bear before giving up to exhaustion, but I will visit again and spend time in these museums to learn more about Hungarian history and culture - which I am sure is well worth stopping by for!


Right next to Buda Castle is the Presidential Palace, Sandor Palota. Stand there on the hour, any time between 9am and 5pm, to witness the changing of the guard. We arrived there right on time to see the ceremony, and trust me, you don't want to miss it! The guards swing their rifles around to the beat of the drum, and they walk past very close to the crowd. It was an amazing moment to see this tradition, which was revived in 2003 after years under a Communist regime.
Behind the Presidential Palace, we strolled along the colourful streets (where you can do some souvenir shopping in one of the numerous little shops) to reach Matthias Church. Its impeccable white structure will probably blow you away, as it did us. The spire seemed to pierce the blue sky in a very dramatic, photogenic way that can only really be appreciated when you see it in person. I mean, look at how tiny people are against its towering walls:


MATTHIAS CHURCH - ENTRY 1800 HUF (£5)

This medieval church is unlike any other I've ever seen. It has lived through the centuries and seen the coronation of many kings; it became a mosque for the Ottomans, and it has been beautiful preserved through time, both inside and out. Inside, the whole church is covered in intricate painting designs, from floor to ceiling, and there is also a museum where you can admire some of the treasures gathered there through the years.
After visiting Matthias Church, you can only be drawn to Fisherman's Bastion - the intricate, fairytale-like structure that surrounds the side of the hill. This is one of the places that look so beautiful, it seems unreal - like a film set maybe, and although I don't watch Game of Thrones, I could totally see the action set at Fisherman's Bastion. In fact, I felt like a princess myself walking around the place.



FISHERMAN'S BASTION - MOSTLY FREE, WITH A SMALL FEE TO VISIT THE UPPER TOWERS BETWEEN MARCH AND OCTOBER (FREE IN THE WINTER)

The fortress is made of seven towers and stretches over a hundred metres. The Bastion takes its name from the fact that the nearby castle and area were protected by the fishermen's guild in medieval times. I find it quite hard to date the structure, which has notable Gothic features but also looks very new and clean, and in fact it was build fairly recently, between 1895 and 1902.
There are many viewing points, from which you have a beautiful panorama of Budapest, from the Danube to the spikey Parliament building.


THE PEST SIDE

Another sunny February day, and another side of Budapest explored. We dedicated another full day to Pest, the east side of the city. This is where you find the lively city parts - the restaurants, the shops, the bars, all surrounded by stunning buildings. This side very much reminded me of the north of Italy, places like Milan or the fanciest parts of Rome - with the elaborate facades and the massive wooden doors protected by statues and columns. If you're looking for a good afternoon of shopping, or maybe for a nice pub in the evening, Budapest's got you covered. My friend and I mainly went for the sights though, so here are the landmarks we saw in Pest. 

THE PARLIAMENT - ST STEPHEN'S BASILICA - THE CENTRAL MARKET HALL - THE SZECHENYI BATHS

The Parliament building is of course the most famous sight in Budapest. You can admire this huge Gothic-inspired masterpiece from all angles, the best-known being from the other side of the Danube River.


I discovered that the Parliament is the largest building in Hungary, and I am not surprised - it really is big. You'll feel impressed by its proportions as well as its multitudes of spires pointing towards the sky. You can visit the Parliament, which we have not done unfortunately, because of a lack of time. You can also see the Changing of the Guard there, although having seen both I would recommend seeing that of the Presidential Palace, much more interesting.


HUNGARIAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY - GENERAL ENTRY 2400HUF (£6.50)

Walking around the streets of Pest is a whole experience in itself. On the way, you'll find plenty of interesting shops (but also mainstrem ones like H&M, Zara and all your typical high street names, if you fancy a bit of shopping), nice restaurants, and pretty buildings. I always like to visit churches when I go to a new place, and thus we went to St Stephen's Basilica. It is located in a lively part of the city and well-connected to everything else, and it is almost surprising to see such a big building right there.


The Basilica is free to visit, but please do make a donation to show appreciation to the place. The inside is full of gold accents, and you can see a relic of St Stephen, the first king of Hungary - his severed hand has been kept through the ages in the cathedral that bears his name. Creepy, I know, but you can't help being curious, right?
The last place that I will mention, and that I think should absolutely be on your bucket list in Pest, is the Széchenyi Baths. Budapest is a thermal city, and there are plenty of spas and baths all around where you can go and spend a nice, relaxing moment. The Széchenyi Baths are the most popular, sure, and they get horribly busy during the day, but they are also the most beautiful I have ever seen, and so unique too.
My friend and I set our alarm for 6am on our last day in Budapest, and walked to the Baths in the morning light. It felt like a struggle to get up so early, especially after two whole days of walking, but let me tell you, when we got there, it was so, so worth it.


SZECHENYI BATHS - FROM 6AM. ENTRY PRICE VARIES. SWIMMING POOL, SAUNA, JACUZZI AND MASSAGES AVAILABLE.

There is a long price list for the baths, and you pay differently whether you go before 8am or after 7pm, on a weekday or at the weekend, and whether you want a cabin and locker, and so on. Do check online, they have a list that's easy to understand. You can book ahead, but it's alright if not - we bought our tickets on the day, but we did go at 7am. Honestly, I 100% advise you to go there in the 6am to 8am slot, even in the winter - it feels so special to have the baths to yourself. I don't think I would have enjoyed the experience as much if I had to share the jacuzzi with ten other random people...
I will now focus on my other favourite part of travelling: the food!

FOOD & DRINKS

Food and drink is incredibly cheap in Budapest. I was almost shocked at how cheap everything was! This means you can eat on a budget, but you may also afford to try out lots of things.
Head to the Central Market Hall for a variety of stalls, from your usual market foods (butchers', greengrocers, fabric sellers) to street food stalls on the top floor. You can try out anything from goulash, rich meat and cabbage dishes, to sausages and fried goods. Don't miss làngos - a fried bread traditionally topped with sour cream and cheese.


Did you know that paprika originates from Hungary? This well-loved spice is featured in a lot of dishes, and you can buy it in any form too. 
In Pest, my friend and I stumbled by chance on a typical Hungarian restaurant called Frici Papa Kifozdéje, which I would recommend if you're looking for a traditional Hungarian experience, without the fuss of the more contemporary restaurants. Everything feels authentic, from the waiters to the dishes, which are hearty, homemade dishes that seem to be cooked by an old Hungarian grandma. The paprika chicken was delicious. There, I also tried the Gundel pancake, a pancake filled with ground walnuts and covered in heavy chocolate cream. If you enjoy alcohol, make sure to get a shot of palinka: sour cherry liquor.

There are a lot of very modern places too, from burger joints to cafes. Go to BITE Bakery Cafe in the morning, for yummy cinnamon rolls and good coffee.

*

Budapest is a wonderful destination, and I could never recommend visiting it enough. Don't be afraid of visiting in the winter - you will avoid the crowds and still have a great experience. Give yourself at least four to five days to see as much as you want, and get to know Hungarian culture - not something we hear about every day, right?

Have you been to Budapest?
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02/03/2019

Five Things You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About


Sorry, not sorry.


These photos were taken in St Albans, on a weekend day out with friends. We had a glorious day. We had nice lunch, good cake, walked around loads and spent time together, which is one of the best things in the world. When I came home in the evening, I was knackered and all I did was get a takeaway KFC, eat it and get into bed. I did not work out, I did not prepare lessons for school, and I did not work towards any of my daily goals (blogging, writing, growth.) And this sparked a thought in me: we often feel too guilty about taking time for ourselves and listening to what we want, there and then. I know I do. Guilt is the worst, because it can bring you down and make you forget all the amazing things you do. Do you ever feel like that? If so, this post is for you. Here are the things we should stop feeling guilty for, now and forever.

Stop feeling guilty about...

SKIPPING A WORKOUT
... Because you're not gonna gain ten pounds by missing a workout once.
As someone who takes working out very seriously, and whose life and mind has thoroughly improved since I started working out (years ago, now) I can sometimes be a little too strict with myself. I have a workout calendar that I follow as much as I can, and I hate missing a day. This has sometimes resulted in me working out even though I was very tired, even though my body hurt that day, even though I wanted to do anything but a workout. Of course, I still got the satisfying feeling of achieving the workout, but when I look back, I think that I have been way too hard on myself. Why force it, if everything tells me to skip it that day? Why not giving myself the break I want? 
Don't feel guilty about listening to your mind and body. You are allowed to let go sometimes. It's not because you skip a day that you are going to lose all the muscle you've built, or that you are going to put on some weight. Let go of that pressure, especially if it leads you to exhaust your body. You will do the workout tomorrow.


HAVING JUNK FOOD THAT YOU KNOW IS BAD FOR YOU
... Yes, McDonald's is crap, but having a BigMac every so often won't clog your arteries.
Sometimes our cravings are stronger than our good will, and that's how you end up eating junk food after a long and busy day. More often than not, I feel super guilty after I eat junk food. The guilt overcomes the immediate (and, let's be honest, short-lived) satisfaction of treating yourself to that burger you've been craving all evening. But really, why should I feel so guilty for giving myself this treat? I want the burger, I get the burger, I feel happy eating the burger, and I move on. Does that mean I am going to die at 50 from a heart disease? Unless I have junk food every other day, probably not. If I am going to enjoy the ten minutes I spend eating the greasy chips, just that once in a while, then I should not beat myself up for it afterwards. And you know what? It's too late anyways. It's done and done, so the best you can do is be happy that you treated yourself. Food for the soul! (... If not for your cholesterol levels.)

SAYING NO TO PLANS AND SPENDING THE DAY AT HOME
... Your friends are not gonna hate you for it. (But if they do, change friends.)
We want to do it all. We work during the weekdays, never saying no to a coffee catch-up at 5pm; then we spend the weekend running around: going for brunch, lunch, coffee; watching a film at the cinema, checking out a new exhibition, doing some shopping, planning trips and travels. In today's world, the fear of missing out is real. And with all these blog posts reminding yourself that you only live once (unless you're a cat) it puts even more pressure to accomplish a lot of things, socialise 24/7, and get out of the house to see the wider world. And I'm all about that, all about travelling, meeting with your friends, going on adventures - you name it. But all these things drain up your energy, whether you want it or not. It gets tiring to travel and commute, it costs money to visit all these cute Instagrammable cafés, and, if you are anything like me, social interaction can be exhausting and you need some time to recharge.
I am always torn between going out and having fun, saying yes to all the plans I get invited to, and planning as many outings as I can, and the feeling (guilty, guilty feeling) that actually, what I really want sometimes is just to stay home and enjoy my own company. Whenever I stay home for a weekend - two whole days! without going anywhere! - I often feel guilty. I wonder why I am not like other people, meeting up every day with a different friend and in a different place. This year, I am staying stop to this bad habit. Staying home to recharge is important, and no one but you can bring you this element of balance in your life. So if this weekend, you're not doing anything major, remember that it is O.K. You won't miss out on the fun: the fun will just happen another day.


PRIORITISING YOURSELF OVER YOUR JOB
... Your job is important, but so if self-care. So leave that laptop alone now!
This is important whether you do a job you love or not. It may be even more important if you absolutely live for your job - because if you do, you can easily be consumed by guilt whenever you do something that is not beneficial for the said job. 
One thing my university tutor often said in my teacher training last year, is that being a teacher is not just a job. It is what you become. And I get why he said that: being a teacher can be exhausting. If you're not careful, you can find yourself working during the week, working before the children come into school and long after they are gone in the afternoons. You can spend your free time outside of school marking books, tests, preparing PowerPoint presentations and planning your next few days of content. I have seen many people work long until late at night, and spend their weekends planning lessons. Last year, if I didn't plan at least two or three lessons on a Saturday or a Sunday, I would feel very guilty and disappointed in myself. Luckily, now I know better. I will not let my job dictate my life, and I have set myself boundaries so that when I don't work as much at the weekends, I do not feel guilty anymore. And trust me, it is liberating! The fact that you realise that your life and well-being are so much more than who you are when you work. Give yourself time out, time to express yourself through other things that make up your personality and your life. Not everything should be defined by your job, in my opinion - unless said job is paid hundreds of thousands of $$. Then maybe, keep working. (I know, money can't buy happiness and all that, but still...)

What is one thing you want to stop feeling guilty about?
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21/02/2019

How To Read More in 2019


And no, reading a Buzzfeed post doesn't count.

Reading is one of these things where you always hear "I wish I had time to read more." Truth is, like everything else, if you want to read, you need to shake yourself up and make it happen. I have always enjoyed reading, but in the last few years and up until a couple months ago, it just wasn't on my priority list anymore. But recently I've been craving some reading time again. Picking up a new book or an old favourite, getting lost in the words, reading a passage over and over again because it touches you, makes you laugh or cry... Books are a wonderful thing, and one can never read enough of them. There are so many benefits to reading, and one that I have found with myself is that the more I read, the more my focus and concentration improve - something I had a big problem with last year, as I could not focus for a long period of time like I used to before. The answer to my problem was reading! And I want to carry on in 2019 and read as much as I can. Here are some tips I will use myself, and hopefully they can help you too. Try it out!

ADD READING TO YOUR TO-DO LIST
I have started to add "reading' in my to-do list, most days. I write a to-do list every day, and whenever I can, I put reading as one of my tasks for the day. It instantly reminds me that it's there and that I have to make time for it. Whether it's twenty minutes on a weekday evening, or an hour at the weekend, if it's on my list, I will always find the time to make it happen because it's right there, it has its slot on my busy schedule.
If it means taking away another task to replace it with reading, please do! Prioritising is important, and sometimes picking up a book is the best thing you can do, especially because it means that you are fitting a cosy, relaxing time in your schedule just for your enjoyment.

ALWAYS READ IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT
A lot of us take public transport, even if not on a regular basis. I walk to work, but whenever I take the underground to central London, you can be sure that I will take a book with me. Even for a short twenty-minute journey, reading in public transport is the way to go. Leave your phone in your bag for a while, and get lost in the pages of a book. You will find that time flies even quicker than when you mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram during your journey. If you take public transport every day to work, let's say thirty minutes one way, that's already one hour a day you can focus on reading. Soon enough, you'll be finishing plenty of books - and make your commute mindful time for yourself.


DO A 10 PAN PROJECT, BUT WITH YOUR BOOKS
If you read beauty blogs, you'll be familiar with 10 Pan Projects. You pick ten items in your beauty stash that you've had for a while, and work on using them up. Now, how many of us have dozens of books on our bookshelves that we've had for ages, but just never got round to reading? Well, it's time for a little book 10 Pan! Go through your shelves and pick a few books (doesn't have to be ten, of course) that you own but have not read yet, and make it your mission to finally read them one by one! This is good in many ways, because of course you'll discover new books, but also it will allow you to decide which books to keep and which ones to give away, if you end up not enjoying them that much. Because it's good to spring-clean your collection once in a while.
And once you have read all these books, why not treat yourself with a brand new one to keep your new reading habits going?

AVOID STRESSFUL EXPECTATIONS
Although I want to read more books this year, I haven't set myself a certain number of books to reach. I know that doing that works for a lot of people, but I am sure that for me, it would mean a big pressure to go through books as fast as I can to read loads of them, maybe without really having the time to appreciate them and appreciate my reading sessions (which for me, is a big part of the whole reading experience.) If you fear that giving yourself a goal of how many books you should read this year will stress you out, then don't do it. Just read, read ahead, and you'll look back at your book count at the end of the year. My target is roughly of one book per month, but I am not strict at all with it - some books are longer than others, some months I have less time than others, so I use it more as a gauge than as a rule. In the end, you should read books because you love it, not because it is another expectation that you ought to set yourself due to a pressure from yourself of from seeing others read so many books. Like everything else you do in life, do it for yourself and with the simple goal of enjoying it!

What book have you read recently? Leave me your recommendations below!
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08/02/2019

The Ordinary Skincare: Two Products That Changed My Skin


I FINALLY tried them out. Better late than never, right?

For the last few months before January, my skincare routine had been almost inexistant. I only used a micellar water, a toner and face cream. (I can already hear the skincare aficionados screaming in terror...) I was thinking that using as few products as possible could only benefit my skin, but to my frustration, it wasn't looking its best. So I finally kicked myself and order two The Ordinary products from Asos: the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and the Vitamin C Suspension with Hyaluronic Acid (what a mouthful!)
I bought them specifically to use them together, with the hope that the toner would clear out my skin and the Vitamin Solution would make it look plump and healthy. And that, it did! My skin has never looked so good. Let's review these little gems a bit more thoroughly, shall we?

WHAT ARE THESE PRODUCTS FOR?
I got the Glycolic Acid to exfoliate my skin every evening. Previously, I have used the Pixi Glow Tonic to the same effect - both product are really good actually. I enjoy using the Glycolic Acid, although it is not as gentle on my skin as the Glow Tonic. You may feel tingles on your skin as you apply it, but as long as the tingly effect isn't uncomfortable or doesn't hurt, do not panic.
The Vitamin C Suspension also have the same tingly effect. It is my first time using HA (Hyaluronic Acid for the uninitiated like me) and there are plenty of positive effects. I don't use it for its anti-ageing properties, although this could be a possibility for you; I use it for its hydration and skin protection and repair effects.


HOW TO USE?
I like to be safe with my skincare, and often just follow the guidance on the label (and adapt it if necessary.) With these two, no need to change my regime: I apply the Glycolic Acid every evening after cleansing. I leave it to dry, and then apply the Vitamin C Solution. You have to be very light-handed with the Solution, it is quite strong and you only need a tiny amount to cover your face - which means the product will last you months!
I follow up by apply my usual face cream. I only use the products in the evenings, and make sure to moisturise thoroughly my face after applying them. I have never used them in the morning, and I would not recommend using the Vitamin C Solution at that time: although it is very liquid and not greasy, it leaves a shiny film on your face which will most likely show through your makeup, even with powder. The toner though could easily be used in the mornings.

THE RESULTS ON MY SKIN
When I say that these two products changed my skin, I am not exaggerating. In about three to four days, I saw a massive improvement: my skin was a lot clearer, smoother, and especially more plump and homogeneous. I don't have a really bad skin to start with, but adding the hydration of the HA has definitely been a game-changer. Using the Glycolic Acid consistenly has also made a big difference. My skin looks less tired, I have fewer pimples (although I still have one or two spots once in a while). I look more refreshed when I am not wearing makeup, which was one of my big concerns about my skin previously - dull and tired skin. I have been using these The Ordinary products every single evening for more than a month now and I'm still as pleased - I hit the jackpot! Definitely try these out if you have a non-problematic skin that needs a little (but deep) boost.

Have you tried The Ordinary? What products from the brand would you recommend?
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27/01/2019

Why I Fell Back in Love With Fashion Basics


Because trends only last so long.

I could never describe my fashion style. I love a lot of different influences, from trendy pieces (at the moment it's leopard print and flowy midi skirts) to more... unusual inspirations (Edwardian fashion is my favourite, and I do have a couple tops with high lace necks - but of course I do not dress according to my tastes in historical fashion.) I simply love a bit of everything! Except for UGG boots. Sorry.
My wardrobe is full of items that could be classified in different styles, some girly things, some cute prints, come trendy pieces, but overall over the last year or so I've found myself going more towards basic pieces and styles. I still love my one-off pieces, but those I wear the most when I put outfits together are the basics: jeans, stripes, monochrome shirts and tshirts. In the autumn I loved wearing my trench and my navy blue military jacket, and now that it is winter I swear by my camel Marks & Spencer coat. If you're thinking about refreshing your wardrobe and going back to basics, here are the reasons why I think you can never go wrong!

BASICS ARE TIMELESS PIECES
Starting with the obvious here: basic pieces will stay with you longer than trendy items that you may fall out of love with. Basic pieces such as blue jeans, white or black shirts, trench coats, little black boots, are always in fashion. You can always find them in the shops should you need to replace those that you have, and you will always see other people wear them too - which will also keep renewing your love for them.
With trends, you can of course fall head over heels and keep wearing that trend for years and years, but it is likely that once you don't see them as much, and they are replaced with other, new trends both in the streets and in the shops, and then they will slowly be replaced in your mind too. Remember corset belts from a couple years ago? They must all be hiding under their owners' beds now, in big boxes. (I never liked that trend anyway - though I love a good 18th century corset. Beautiful.)

YOU CAN PUT OUTFITS TOGETHER MORE EASILY
Neutral items of clothing just go with everything. Although to be fair, I feel like leopard print also goes with a lot of things - but you get my meaning here.
Let's take my stripey dress from the photo above: it's a basic from H&M and can literally be worn with anything, in any season. I typically wear it in the autumn with tights, black or brown boots (ankle boots or even higher boots) and a jacket. But it can also be worn in the summer with little white trainers. You can also wear a grey jumper on top of it. You can turn it into a top by wearing a skirt (midi, pencil, you name it) on top. It's so easy!

Basics go together very well, and it's easy to mix and match them so that you don't get bored. If you pick versatile pieces, you will be able to wear them no matter the season too. It makes you think smarter when you buy, but also you build up a more curated, homogeneous style. And that's always good if you don't like taking hours to put together an outfit for the day.


BASICS ARE CHEAPER
I feel like this is something we don't think about enough: basics are a lot cheaper than trendy seasonal collections! Most shops now have a basics section where you can stock up on everything for reasonable prices: H&M, Zara, Primark, and many more. Even if you're looking for quality, basics will always be less expensive than the other collections shops bring out every season. You can find good quality jumpers in Zara or H&M for example, if you look at their basics section. Same for jeans - good ol' blue jeans will always be cheaper than ripped and stringy trendy jeans, even in the exact same shop. Basics are more classic, and they will cost you less.

ABOUT ACCESSORIES: INVESTING IS SAVING
It is exactly the same about shoes, and bags, and to a certain extent jewellery: some come in and out of style, some are always there. Black and brown boots will always be available to buy in the shops, they will always be 'trendy' - and they will go with every single outfit you wear. For accessories I would suggest investing, maybe putting a bit more money, because this is how you save in the long run. I've had my camel M&S coat for three years now, and it is good quality as well as timeless. Instead I could have bought a trendy coat of lesser quality (like a bright pink bomber, let's say) that I would have worn fewer times - because it really doesn't go with everything, and I'd really only wear a coat three months of the year. The rest of the time, said coat would be in my wardrobe feeling sorry for itself.
Invest in good bags, good shoes - quality materials and neutral colours are my go-to for both - and you will: a. feel like it is a treat to wear such a nice item, and b. keep it for years and years. If you keep to basics, you won't even need to put yourself on a shopping ban every January. And you'll always look great. Double win!

What are your wardobe basics?
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13/01/2019

Easy Ways To Practise Gratitude


There is so much to be grateful for.

I first read about the concept of gratitude on lifestyle and self-care blogs. Of course I understood the idea of feeling happy and grateful for what I have, but turning it into a mantra is something else. I can be very pessimistic at times, mostly when I am anxious or upset, but more and more over the years I have grown optimistic about a lot of things. Little by little, I have incorporated acts of gratitude into my life, without putting that label on them. I don't think one needs to be overly grateful, shout from the rooftops all the things that make them happy, but reminding yourself of all the wonderful things in your life doesn't hurt, right?
There is definitely easy ways to practice gratitude, and all those things can help you build a more positive, happier self. I will never say it enough: you need to work on your mindset to see the changes you wish for.


WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE?
This may seem like an easy question, but I don't think we do that often enough. Just think about a fun memory that always makes you smile. What is it that make you feel that way? Is it the place? The people you were with? The thing you were doing? If something puts a smile on your faces, chances are it's something you will be grateful for. For me, it is anything from remembering the times spent with my boyfriend, to a funny moment I lived with a friend, or the satisfaction of thinking about the days when I feel really motivated to write my novel or workout. All these experiences are moments which could never fail to make you happy. Think about them and realise how lucky you have been to experience them - how lucky you are to experience them still. We take a lot of things for granted, but whenever you can, maybe when you're in your bed at night trying to fall asleep - think about the stuff that makes you smile. Whether it happened on the same day or months ago, these are still things that have nurtured your life and made an impact, for they still make you smile now. Don't forget them - especially when things are not going so well. There can always be a little smile on your face. 

ABOUT GRATITUDE LISTS
There are a lot of ways to make gratitude lists, and I have to say that I don't make them terribly often myself, but it is something that is quick, easy and uplifting. What I usually do is that when I have had a good day, if I find myself smiling in contentment in the evening, I will get out a pen and write in a journal "five great things that happened today." I started this little habit over two years ago, on my birthday in 2016, because one of my friends gifted me a beautiful journal. I don't write every day, only for days that I want to remember. There are some days that are more significant than others, but I do have quite a few days in the journal where I've only spent my day at home, but found five little things that make me happy and grateful. Whenever I look back in the journal, it gives me a beautiful feeling of happiness and it never fails to brighten my mood.
I feel like I could not stick to a gratitude list per day, but whether you decide to try it out is another story! To give you an example, my gratitude list today, as I am writing this post, would be:
- I am grateful for calling my boyfriend and spending time with him.
- I am grateful for finding the strength to do a tough workout and push myself to improve.
- I am grateful for having a comforting coffee after my workout.
You can make the list as long as you like, but remember the smallest things and look at them with gratitude, because even a simple thing like a cup of coffee may not seem like much to you, but isn't it wonderful to be able to make yourself a warm coffee whenever you want, just because you want it? I think it is.



SHARE THE LOVE
Many things that you will find yourself grateful for will include other people. Your family, friends, partners, colleagues, even strangers in the street sometimes. So what if you shared your feeling of gratitude with them? Tell a friend you're grateful for the coffee date you spent with them. Tell your partner you are grateful for their support. Smile to the stranger who held the door for you. For me, it is often thanking my children at school when we've had a good lesson. They make me smile, even laugh out loud, and in these moments I feel very grateful for the job that I do and for teaching them. So I always make sure to have a kind word, so that this may be something they look back on too later in the day and smile about. Show others how grateful you are even for the smallest things, and chances are, it will all come back to you. Makes the world kinder and more positive, don't you think?

AN ODE TO ORDINARY LIFE
Gratitude is all about being thankful for the little things, the "boring" things. Like the post-workout coffee on my list. It is more difficult to feel happy about the ordinary, what we take for granted, than to be grateful about going on a trip, getting a new job, and all those things that don't happen every day and we feel so lucky for. What happens every day is of course less special in our eyes. But really, think about what all you have is amazing! Being healthy enough to do the workout, being able to afford coffee and cake on a weekend afternoon, having books to read and the Internet to express yourself and connect with others. Not every one has the security of having a "boring" life, of coming home after work and cooking a meal. 
I know this sounds like I am trying to get melodramatic here, but really, think about all these little things you do every day, maybe even those that seem like a chore (for me, that's the cooking... urgh!) and remind yourself that all these ordinary things make up that wonderful life of yours. Take a step back and you'll see things from a different angle - a more positive, thankful one.

What are you grateful for?
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02/01/2019

LIFESTYLE | Why the End of the Year is NOT your Deadline


Let's not start the new year stressed, shall we?

2018 is coming to an end. As we all expect, this is the time where magazines and sometimes blogs ask you to stop and think about the goals you've managed to achieve. What you have checked off your list. Have you had a promotion at work? Have you reached 50k on Instagram? Have you bought a house? All these expectations can be overwhelming, especially when you see others succeed. Don't get me wrong, we should always celebrate each other's successes, but often we expect people to achieve so much in the space of one year, that if you haven't quite reached your big goals yet, it can make you feel a bit down or overwhelmed.
But hear this: the end of the year doesn't mean it's too late. No matter whether you've reached the end line or not, what you should remember is the progress you have made in the interval. Things take time, and your goals don't really care about whether you achieve them on December 31, 2018 or on May 2, 2019. Really, they don't. The pressure comes from seeing the end of a year being used as a deadline to end everything and start off again. How about we let go of that pressure, of the temptation to compare our successes to those of others, and just carry on as we were going?


SH*T TAKES TIME
Give yourself the time to reach those long-term goals you have at the back of your mind. Don't make yourself start it all again - unless you want to of course. But you shouldn't feel like you have to make these resolutions to change your life around if they are going to make you stressed. Some things take longer than we expect sometimes, and it's not because you haven't achieved them before the end of the year that you are a failure. Take me, for example: I am writing a novel, and have been on it on-and-off for roughly two years. In early 2018 I started working on it consistently again, and the February 2018 me thought 'by December, I want to be all done and ready to edit!'. Turns out, it's late December now and I'm not there at all. I haven't met my deadline yet. Should I feel like I failed? Or like maybe I didn't put enough time and effort in? It's so easy to put yourself down for not quite reaching what you've been aiming for. But don't let this negativity overshadow all the things you have done, and keep doing every day of every year. Don't let deadlines dictate your successes. And if something needs more time, then just carry on. It's not about how long it takes, it's about how great you feel while working on it. 

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO THAT ONE GIRL YOU 'SAW ON INSTAGRAM'
I pick Instagram here because it's the perfect platfom to get those types of feelings. You see people through a sparkly lens of lucky moments, engagements, you see them publish books, buy a house, and especially at this time of year, you see the 2018 recaps full of unimaginable goals. This is also true about blogs, about your Facebook friends (like that one person you knew in high school and would never talk to again, but still have as a Facebook friend for some reason) and also the people around you - your friends, your co-workers. Some people have had a fantastic year full of life changing things, and maybe yours was quieter - but success comes in all shapes and sizes and your successes are the best, because they are your own. We all fall into the trap of comparison sometimes, even though I have never tackled this issue on my blog, and now is my time to remind you that comparing yourself to others should not be something you do, whether it's 2018 or 2019. Focus on you and think back on all the awesome things that happened to you this year. 


THE NEVERENDING GOAL: YOUR HAPPINESS
To me, there is one big goal that should never have a deadline, and it is your happiness. This of course encompasses a lot of things, and you will define your own happiness in your terms. Whenever you think of your goals, make sure they all drive you towards feeling happy and fulfilled. Whether it is related to your job, your relationships, or your hobbies, do your best to make yourself happy. This is how you create the memories that you will remember at the end of the calendar year - and for all the other years to come.


What is your best memory from 2018?
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