30/12/2019

The Life Lessons I Learned in 2019


And that's a wrap!

The year 2019 came and went, and now is time to reflect on everything i have learned this year. All these things I have learned through experiences, self-reflection, difficult times but also times where everything fell back into place for a while. There has been a lot of great things that have happened to me this year personally, with a few drawbacks - because there is no such thing as a perfect life. Admittedly, it has also been a pretty relaxed year, with no major shift in my mindset. I think I have accomplished my biggest mental and personal growth in my early 20s, and now that I am halfway through I just gotta adjust to whatever comes my way and get on with things!

THE LESSONS I LEARNED IN 2019

You can't be at 100% every day, and that's okay.
This year I have really learned (without big revelation, just slowly and confidently) that one should not expect to be at their maximum all the time. However strong your motivation is, your body may not follow; or one day you just wake up with big plans but no will to accomplish them at all. Instead of beating myself up like I would do some years ago, I decided to embrace the fact that no one is perfect and that whatever I don't achieve one day, I can easily achieve another time. Save yourself the guilt and use your time to take care of yourself and get yourself back to the right place and mindset!

You will always have so many wonderful opportunities.
Here, I am talking about opportunities in any shape or form. The opportunity to meet new people, to say yes to events you would have never thought you'd experience, to visit new places just because you say "why not" and give them a chance; the opportunity to expand your horizons, professionally and personally. The me of January 2019 would never have guessed where the me of December 2019 would be - and I'm the first to be surprised at what I have seen and done this year! I decided to visit Budapest on a whim and found one of my favourite cities ever, I did a Skype job interview without any expectations, not knowing that I would end up getting the job and love it and everything it's bringing me - and I could go on! If you haven't had the best time recently, just remember that things change, and if you find yourself in a pit, there will be forces helping you back up again.

Sometimes, good things do come to those who wait.
I typically have a can-do attitude and always encourage people do get out and do things for themselves, earning what they get and so on, but this year I've realised that sometimes you just gotta wait: things you never thought would come through your own great work, will come anyways even though you may have lost all hope. Last June I was desperate for a new job. My teacher job in London was only a one-year contract and was ending soon, and I could not for the life of me find another teaching position. I applied to one that I really wanted, and didn't get it after the interview. I got a position that, after the interview, I realised I didn't really want to take. I didn't know whether I would stay in London or move back to France. That time was really tough for me, because I was at a crossroads in the dark and not matter the efforts I put into finding another job, there was nothing. Eventually, in July, I got my present job in Paris - after an interview that I thought would not lead to anything. It just happened. So it's okay if sometimes you feel like you're just in the waiting room. A door will open eventually. Just keep your spirits up!


You never know where you will end up, so there's no use planning tomorrow like it's gonna be your only definite plan.
When we are at "critical" times, i.e. between jobs, moving cities or having changes in our relationships with loved ones, we may feel like the direction we're taking, voluntarily or not, is the one that we'll be following for the rest of our life. Like there's no going back, changing your mind, twists and turns and new opportunities. When I was looking for a new job, instead of seeing my horizons open up, I saw them narrow down. Each idea I had for the near future suddenly blocked me and I kept thinking like any decision I was going to take then would put me in a box for the next decade. Now, isn't that a terrible way of seeing things? 

I was planning my whole life (or at least a good chunk of it) based on one choice, one move, one big change. But actually, there are plenty of other big changes, expected and unexpected, which will shape my life anyway. I will take new decisions, new directions, that may lead me to places I never thought I would be. Don't get me wrong, there is some good in looking ahead and planning for success (otherwise, how would one accomplish their goals and dreams?) but this year I have learned that not every day, every month and every year will bring me new things, good and bad, and that no matter how much I feel like I am planning tomorrow right now, life finds its way to surprise us with what we have not planned. 
Now, doesn't that make the new year sound like an empowering adventure to take on? Let's do this!

What have you learned about yourself or the world around you in 2019?
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20/12/2019

Christmas 2019: How To Build Your Festive Wardrobe!


Because you can't really wear a Christmas jumper every day...

... Although I wish it was socially acceptable!
To me there is a big difference between dressing for wintertime, and dressing around the festive season. Sure, the weather is roughly the same in December as it will be next January, but the vibe is certainly different - it's Christmaaas! And thus, there are a few trends and styles that I love wearing before December 31. If like me you enjoy changing your style with the seasons, here are a few things you could wear right now:

DOUBLE-BREASTED JACKETS AND COATS
I don't own many coats and jackets, and my favourite are both double-breasted. There's something about this retro style that I like. My military jacket from Zara is a firm favourite, that I enjoy wearing on days when it's not so cold. Doesn't it look like a nutcracker jacket? So Christmassy! Here I paired them with my tartan trousers from H&M, and I think the whole looks rather festive, without being all glitter and sparkles.

TARTAN GALORE
Tartan is a gorgeous pattern, and I think that it works on everything: trousers like me, but also scarves, jackets and coats, skirts... It brings a little colour to the more neutral colours one tends to wear during the winter. A tartan piece can brighten any all-black or navy outfit - and you'll look like you've just been on a trip to Scotland, too. Wonderful!


A BIT OF SPARKLY AND SHINY
While some may want to go all out this season with lots of glitter and sequins, I prefer using subtle touches of sparkly during the festive season. Pearls are especially trendy at the moment, and they are a very chic addition to jumpers, headbands, but I have also seen it on jeans. I have a pearl handband from Primark that only cost me 3€/£2 and it adds a fancy touch to any outfit. If you would like something a little more 'extra', look for silky fabrics like silky slip skirts and dresses, and knitwear with sparkly threads running through the fabric - jumpers, dresses, scarves, etc. This is party wear made accessible for everyday style, so you don't need a big event to dress up a little!

THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES TO BEAT THE WEATHER IN STYLE
For me, you don't need an array of winter accessories - only a few great staples. Pleather gloves are my go-to, especially when they have a little bow on them to make them cuter. Pick them black, and pair them with classic black boots too: makes them easy to wear with every festive look. You also need a couple good quality scarves, possibly tartan (obviously!) or sparkly. Look for lush, warming materials - they may cost you more than the usual fast-fashion scarf, but you really don't need a whole collection, just two good ones to be able to switch while one's in the wash. Same with bags. Burgundy is my winter colour of choice, but I also have a gorgeous little Karl Lagerfeld black bag with pearls that I will use for festive outings. If you are planning to walk around Christmas markets, take a sturdy pleather backpack instead: perfect to pack your camera, coffee mug and any presents you'd want to bring back with you from the market. Practical, yet stylish and timeless! 

What are your favourite things to wear at Christmas time?
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11/12/2019

Things To Do To Enjoy the Christmas Season


Deck the halls and get your Christmas jumpers out, everyone!

It is no secret that Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Everything is covered in twinkling lights, candles smell of cinnamon and cookies, and the warmth of the season makes winter that much bearable. I love reading blog posts around this time too, because there's a cosy and cheerful vibe that you don't really find the rest of of the year. So here is my little bit of Christmas for you: my favourite things to do this season to make the most of the Christmas spirit...

1. Visiting a Christmas market
I start with the obvious, but Christmas markets are a must for me and I try to visit at least a couple every year. This year, I went to the Paris Christmas Market near the Louvre, and the Lille Christmas market - both really great! My boyfriend and I had a super yummy hot dog at the Paris Christmas market, and we want to go back for more. I know most items in Christmas markets are more expensive than they would be anywhere else, but if you save a little toward a Christmas gift or two and a bite to eat, it becomes a wonderful afternoon out idea with family or friends!

2. Listening to Christmas music
I am not a music person, but whenever November rolls in, I usually start listening to Christmas music. There are tons of great playlists on YouTube that you can play in the background to make any home day a little more festive. Christmas music always puts me in a great mood, even the slower, sad Christmas songs, so I know that whenever the season approaches Christmas music will keep me motivated to do things in the depths of winter.


3. Watching Christmas films, old and new
There are the classics I could never get tired of: The Holiday, Love Actually... But there are also some new additions on Netflix every year now. Okay, they may not be the most groundbreaking films with unexpected scenarii and incredible acting, but seeing all the little towns and houses decked with Christmas lights always make me so happy inside. Watching a Christmas film snuggled in a blanket with a warm drink is one of the best ways to spend a December day. Who's with me?

4. Wrapping presents and writing cards
Christmas is a time for giving, and what's best that wrapping presents for your loved ones while listening to some festive music? Present wrapping is always a special moment for me, and picking my yearly Christmas cards too. In the UK, I love going to Clintons and Paperchase and browse through the Christmas cards, to find the perfect ones. Every Christmas, I also love making little bags full of Christmas goodies for my closest friends. Putting a smile on someone's face is so rewarding, and that way you can spread all the good feelings that Christmas traditionally encapsulates.

5. Taking things slow and indulging in some cosy times
The end of the year is always super busy. You have to run around to get your presents and food, you have to make plans with friends and family, tiredness shows itself at work and at home... It's a bit of a crazy time! This is why I love taking it slow sometimes, and giving myself the time off to be cosy and unwind. Staying in at Christmas time always feels better than any time of the year, and so does cooking or baking (or is it just me?). Winding down with friends over a cup of coffee, while it's freezing cold outside and you're tucked in a café, is also a favourite. The end of the year is near, so spend the time you have doing things you love and protecting yourself from the day-to-day stress!

What are your favourite Christmas things to do?

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27/11/2019

The Best Instagram Spots in Prague, Czech Republic


Get ready for some real autumn goodness.

I visited Prague in mid-October, and before I got there, I expected a lot of autumnal landscapes - needless to say, I got exactly that, and more! Prague is a beautiful city, and a big one too, and I really enjoyed discovering the prettiest spots there.
Because my boyfriend and I did not visit that many tourist attractions, I thought I would dedicate this blogpost to the beauty of the city and where you can find the most Instagrammable areas to take your souvenir pictures! I have never done one of these posts, so yay for trying something new!
Without further ado, here are the Prague spots that I took my favourite photos in. You get head over to my Instagram @julia_ds25  to see all my Prague (and Poland) pictures!

VYSEHRAD: PEACEFUL NATURE OUTSIDE OF THE CITY
We explored Vysehrad on a quiet weekday afternoon, and it was one of my favourite moments in Prague. To get there, we took the tram to the south of the city and climbed up a hill, through paths covered in autumn leaves. Once you reach the top you are at Vysehrad: an old fortress turned park, where you will find beautiful views over the city, the gorgeous St Peter and Paul Basilica, and a wide area of greenery. If you love autumn photos, Vysehrad is your spot: there were very few people there, leafing you with a lot of freedom to play around with photography. 


GARDENS BELOW PRAGUE CASTLE: THE BEST PLACE FOR DREAMY, WHIMSICAL PICTURES
These gardens are exactly what the name suggests: gardens hidden underneath the castle. They are tucked away in a small street, but you will find them easily through Google Maps. These gardens are terraced, Italian-style garden, where you will find a variety of levels adorned with flowers and plants, as well as my favourite view over the centre of Prague. You have to pay a small fee to enter, but trust me: the price is well worth it. I don't think this place has made it into the tourist hotspot list yet, and that makes them really special. In the autumn, the leaves on the walls turn orange and make the dreamiest background for photos. I really felt like we hit a jackpot with this place. Just see for yourself...


THE OLD TOWN: THE CLASSIC PRAGUE SHOTS AND COLOURFUL BUILDINGS
The Old Town is an unmissable spot in Prague. Even though it is far more touristy than the two I mentioned above, it is also a beautiful setting for your travel photos. Getting up early means that you will have fewer people around, so if you're planning to shoot in the Old Town Square and expecting tourist-free shots, set up your alarm and get going! I really enjoyed the buildings around the square, they are all different colours and shapes, and make for fun pictures. On the other side of Charles Bridge, you can also find some old colourful streets where there are few cars and you will be able to stand on the road to take pretty pictures. My tip would be to steer away from the main streets and get lost in the smaller alleys: they may be narrower and harder to capture in photos, but worth it if you have those skills because there won't be any crowds at all.  


AROUND THE RIVER & PRAGUE'S BRIDGES
You may know that Prague is cut in half by the Vltava River. I love a good river, it can create beautiful photos with the perspective of the buildings on either side, or the reflection of the landscape in the water. The river in Prague goes a long way, so it is pretty easy to find a spot devoid of tourists where you can get beautiful pictures. My favourite view is the view of Charles Bridge from the left side of the city, as you will see in the photo below. Another great river view is when the night starts falling and the lights are turned on: this will create beautiful reflections of the lights and the buildings on the water. Go out there and walk around the river, and it will give you plenty of opportunities to shoot. 


NOT WORTH THE HYPE

Not trying to be a party-pooper here, but there are some spots that are definitely not as spectacular as they appear on Instagram. Not that places are not relevant when you can't take a good picture (hey, I'm not that superficial!) but we have been to some places that seemed like great spots, but turned out disappointing. So in a few words, here are why these spots disappointed me! 


CHARLES BRIDGE: I was expecting the coolest, prettiest bridge - I found a plain stone bridge overcrowded with street vendors and with the only difference from the other bridges being that there are some statues here and there. It is quite hard to take a good photo of the bridge while you're on it, obviously. I'd recommend getting away from the bridge and looking at it from either side of the river. Much better!
PRAGUE CASTLE + ATTRACTIONS (ST VITUS, GOLDEN LANE, ETC.): Talk about a tourist trap! I'd read quite a few not-so-great reviews about the attractions around Prague Castle (the castle itself, Golden Lane, the various museums there etc.) but we still went, curious to learn more about the History of Prague and see some of its key monuments. It turned out to be too expensive for what we saw, and packed with other tourists and poor in photo opportunities. St Vitus Cathedral, for example, is a gorgeous building which you can see peaking above the other buildings from everywhere in Prague - but once you get close to it, it is surrounded by walls and buildings, so much so that you can barely take a shot with the whole building in. The hyped Golden Lane, a medieval street full of colourful houses (including one in which the writer Franz Kafka lived) has turned into a crowded and gimmicky area, where you queue up to get into children-sized houses to get a glimpse of how the houses were decorated back in the day they were inhabited. Impossible to take a single good photo there, and not even worth it for the historical value. A double no from me!
KAMPA: Not talking about the Kafka museum here as we did not visit, but the Kampa area was a small disappointment as I had heard it had great views over the city and good photo ops. I found the area pretty bland, apart from the notable (and slightly disturbing) modernist statues. The only good thing I found there was a beautiful autumnal doorway covered in green and red leaves. Check out my recommended spots above for the most picturesque views of Prague instead!

Have you ever been to Prague? Would you want to visit there?
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10/11/2019

My Fashion Favourites For Autumn


Not dressing up as a pumpkin every day, don't you worry.

It's hard for me to pick a favourite season to dress, but I have to say I really like the cosy vibes and warm colours of autumns. I don't really pay much attention to trends anymore: I used to be all over magazines and fashion shows in high school, but now I'm more about trends that last over the years and that look both comfortable and pretty. I don't shop around much anymore, so I always buy items that I know I will always love and wear over and over again. So here are the 'trends' and items that I will be wearing all autumn and winter long!

Camel, brown and rusty colours
My winter coat of choice is a classic camel double-breasted number from Marks & Spencer, from a few years ago. I haven't grown tired of it yet, and don't think I ever will! I love camel and beige shades at this time of year, because I feel like they are the lighter colour options in this season - the autumn version of pastel pink for me, I guess!
Browns and beige colours also give off a vintage and retro vibe that I really like, very much inspired by British countryside style. This is why when I had to choose a blanket scarf, I went for the light brown/beige shade you can see in the picture above. But more on that later!

Black accessories
Shoes, belts, bags - I tend to stick with black accessories for all of my outfits around this time of year. It makes it much easier to style, as I tend to wear darker-coloured clothes in the autumn and winter. I even got a new pair of super comfortable trainers from Primark recently, my first pair of black trainers ever! I love white trainers (in the Adidas superstar style), but I find that black trainers will work better when I wear opaque black tights with a dress. 
I also do have two burgundy bags as burgundy is my colour of choice for autumn/winter bags - again because it's such a timeless colour and goes with everything. Can you see a theme here?

Smart coats & jackets
I am not a big coat person as I find them uncomfortable most of the time and I wish I didn't have to wear them at all, but I only have one stance when it comes to picking a style of coat: smart, usually double-breasted with fancy buttons, and fitted. I am not a fan of oversized coats as there is too much material there for me to feel comfy in them. I usually go up a size to fit jumpers underneath, which is why I keep it to fitted styles, so that they don't look too big. My favourite autum jacket is the military jacket below, which I got in Zara a couple years back - all my clothes are old, sorry! As I said I don't shop every season anymore, but hopefully this still gives you inspiration to find similar items in the shops now.

Scarves
Once the weather starts getting chilly, I get out my staple winter accessory - the scarf! I always feel like if I leave my throat uncovered in the cold, I'll get sick, so I tend to cover up my neck as soon as I feel the slightest hint of winter wind in the air. I love tartan scarves, I have a classic red tartan scarf but also a rusty orange tartan design too, and I switch them up whenever I feel like it. Recently my boyfriend got me a blanket scarf for my birthday, and I'm surprised I didn't fall for this trend before - blanket scarves are the most comfy thing! Wrap it over your transitional jacket to keep warm, and everywhere will feel like you're wrapped in a cosy blanket at home.


Jumpers & dresses
Something I didn't use to do at all until last year or so is layering up a jumper on top of my dresses. I'm a dresses addict, I wear dresses and skirts all year around, much more so than trousers. So when it gets cold, I've started to layer up cosy jumpers on top of the dresses. It keeps you much warmer than just wearing an open cardigan, which is what I used to do more.
Layering jumpers over dresses works with both loose jumpers and tighter ones, so long as you're feeling comfortable for the day. That is also a great way to wear your scratchy jumpers, if you own any (which I still hope you don't!). I have a camel jumper that I love wearing over my navy blue work dresses, and a grey, large-knit one I wear with my skater skirts for a preppy look. 

What are your favourite fashion items to wear in the autumn?
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31/10/2019

Exploring NYC: Manhattan & Brooklyn


Get your comfy shoes ready: we're gonna explore NYC!

This is the second post of my NYC series, and there should be a third post after that - look at me spoiling you! In this one, I take you around two of the main neighbourhoods of the city: Manhattan and Brooklyn. This is where my friends and I decided to explore - not that there isn't anything interesting in other neighbourhoods like Harlem, but that will be for another trip. There are so many things to see and do around Manhattan and Brooklyn and I only scraped the surface during my trip, but everything we did was so exciting - and I know you'll love it too!

EXPLORING MANHATTAN

Manhattan is where all the main New York attractions per se are (see my New York CityPass review here), but you could walk around the place for days, discovering new neighbourhoods and landmarks at every corner. I would advice you to divide your time in Manhattan into the different neighboorhoods and activities you would like to do. Some of my highlights in Manhattan include:
- seeing Times Square at night, with all the lights shining bright around you,
- walking around the main avenues (4th, 5th, 6th avenue) and looking around for the skyscrapers,
- visiting St Patrick's Cathedral, a beautiful, European-style church that left me speechless,
- seeing the inside of Grand Central Station, a stunning work of art and star location of Gossip Girl (once a fangirl, always a fangirl!)



TIMES SQUARE
Times Square is probably one of the most famous sights in New York, and also a love or hate place, I think. I enjoyed seeing all the advertisement boards, especially in the night - they shine so bright, it is quite impressive. However in terms of what's around, it's a lot of stuff you may have already seen before: Sephora, Levi's, the Disney Store... Groundbreaking, I know. Times Square however is the place where you can get reduced tickets for Broadway shows. We got reduced tickets for Chicago and lemme tell you, it was amazing. Whether you're a hardcore fan of musicals or not.

GRAND CENTRAL STATION


Grand Central may not be a place of interest for some, but I wanted to see it because it is featured at the very beginning of the very first episode of Gossip Girl - yes, that show again. (Sorry, not sorry.) I had to get a photo there, and pretend I was Serena Van der Woodsen for a minute or two. But the station is worth checking out anyway for its beautiful architecture: low, warm lights, ceiling adorned with star signs, and a plethora of places to grab a bite to eat. Grand Central is not too far from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, so if you're around, why not go in? Maybe you'll end up catching a train somewhere...

ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL
I love churches and cathedrals, but the US really isn't where I thought I'd find something that could compete with the ones we have in Europe. St Patrick's showed me that I was wrong, and I now stand corrected! The Cathedral is located on the 5th avenue, and sandwiched between modern buildings, which kind of make it seem out of place. The outside is beautiful, but it's the inside of the cathedral that really surprised me: big, light and full of neogothic wonders. A little bit of European architecture in the Big Apple!

CENTRAL PARK 
Who could visit NYC without walking around Central Park? Not me. I love parks and green spaces - I love the parks in London, for example - and Central Park has been in so many films, I was eager to visit. Central Park is huge, and you may want to pick and choose what areas you would like to see. There are plenty of maps of Central Park online, so you can plan your time there.
My favourite thing we did there was watching a baseball game at Heckscher Ballfields, sitting in the grass with an iced coffee. The best views in my opinion are towards south Central Park, Wollman Rink and the Gapstow Bridge. Nature blends in with the tall skyscrapers in the background, and this is the traditional sight you may imagine when thinking about Central Park. The Lake and Belvedere Castle are also whimsical places to see. We did not make it to north central park, but if you do have the time, you should make sure to see a little bit of everything - and on sunny days, a picnic in the park is ought to be had!


EXPLORING BROOKLYN

Brooklyn can be reached from Manhattan by crossing on one of the city's famous (especially on Instagram) bridges. It is a borough that's been reviving a lot in recent years, and it is now known to be a hip place full of art works, hipster cafes and cool hangouts. My airbnb was actually in Brooklyn, and I do think it is the best place to stay during a trip in New York because it is easily accessible in public transport and has good connexions to lots of other places in the city.
My friends and I explored some areas of Brooklyn, though the borough is so big that you would need a few days to explore all of it.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE
Let's start by the beginning! Brooklyn Bridge is the iconic bridge that links Brooklyn and Manhattan, and walking along the bridge gives you beautiful views over the East River and the skyline of Manhattan. There are plenty of photo opportunities there, but I would recommend getting there early in the morning - the bridge is relatively narrow, and there is a cycle path running through it, which makes pedestrian access even more restrained. Beware of angry New Yorkers on their bikes: some of them cycle quite fast, and most of them will remind you they hate you because you're a tourist that is standing on their way. (Not cool.) If you make it all the way from one end of the bridge to the other: congrats! It is a looong bridge. It's ok if you give up halfway.

DUMBO +  MANHATTAN BRIDGE
DUMBO may be the most famous area of Brooklyn at the moment. It is all over Instagram, and a buzzing place with cafes, restaurants, markets - the perfect weekend friend meetup. 
My favourite thing there was the DUMBO Flea - a flea market held every Sunday right under one of the archways of the bridge. There you can find vintage clothes and homeware, old Peanuts and Charlie Brown books, old car number plates, but also independent coffee stalls, donuts and ever creepy old toys... Something for everyone, right?
Walking around DUMBO, you will spot a lot of street art on the buildings, under bridge archways, and so on - reminding you that you are in an artists' hub. Walk towards the river and you fill find the Time Out New York, a fancy food market in a stunning building with great views over Manhattan, and Main Street Park, where you can sit in the grass under Manhattan Bridge and enjoy a bagel with coffee. Living the Brooklyn dream! 
Psst, Gossip Girl fans: the Humphrey loft is located right next to Manhattan bridge, on Water Street. The spot is always crowded because it is an amazing photo opp, but it still feels strange to see the red brick building in real life.


GOSPEL AT THE BROOKLYN TABERNACLE: YES OR NO?
This point may be one of contention, but I do want to talk about it nonetheless. My friends and I went to a gospel mass at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, though I wasn't sure about it myself, all my other friends had this on their "must-do" NYC list. I had no idea what to expect, and when we left after mass, I thought through the experience a lot, and all of my thoughts are a mixed bag. I loved the singing - the choir was big and full of people from various backgrounds, and everyone both on stage and in the audience seemed so happy to be there and share this moment together. After the songs a sermon take place pastor Jim Cymbala. As a non-religious person, I still respect and appreciate all religious faiths, though I found it hard, with my own beliefs and opinions, to sit through the whole sermon. I am very grateful that we were welcomed in the church and there were no difference made between the worshippers and visitors. Now that I have had this experience though I would still advise anyone whose views don't agree with religion, that it may not be the right experience for them - even though they would want to come in for the music.

CONEY ISLAND
For those of you who enjoy funfairs, Coney Island is not to miss. It is located south of Brooklyn, on the New York coast, and the area is mostly consisted of hot-dog restaurants, novelty shops, and the infamous fun fair where you can ride old-fashion trains and rollercoasters. My friends and I went at sunset on a Friday night, and it was perfect. There were very few people when we arrived, and we enjoyed a long walk along the pier before checking out the rides. For dinner, I had to try Nathan's hot dogs, which are a famous Coney Island institution - cheap and cheerful, too! 
During the summer, there are fireworks every Friday at 9.30pm, so grab a drink and sit ready to enjoy the show, which was pretty amazing!


There are many more things to see around Brooklyn and Manhattan, but this post would never end if I mentioned them all. These are my top picks, but I highly advise you, if you're planning a trip to NYC, to look at a multitude of posts and videos to decide what you will visit there.

Would you prefer Brooklyn or Manhattan? What would be at the top of your list of things to see there?
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06/10/2019

It's OK To Take a Break: Why You Should Slow Down To Bloom Again


Overwhelmed? Uninspired? Switch yourself off and recharge your batteries.

Having a long-term project like a blog, content creation, or an artistic hobby, is always a big endeavour. And unfortunately, you can't always be 100%. Over the past few months I haven't been too excited about my blog and producing content here. Nothing wrong with it, too. It doesn't mean that I'm tired of blogging at all, but I have less time nowadays, and fewer ideas than I did before too. At first I found it very frustrating and took it as me not being as good with the whole blogging thing, but then, during the recent summer holidays and when I happened to not post for more than a month, I realised it is actually OK to give it a break. If you are feeling like me right now, here the little tips I gathered that made me feel better about slowing it down!

WHEN should you take a break?
There is a difference between when you should try a little harder and push yourself, and when you've just got to stop altogether and take a break. I do believe resilience is key and you should always try to improve what you would like to change, in yourself or in what you do. But then, how do you know when it's time to stop? 
Generally, if you lack inspiration for too long and you can't get your motivation back for a while, even though you've tried everything, then you should consider stopping everything and taking a step back. It doesn't mean that you will never get there, it just means that you give yourself the time to live, relax, focus on self-care, before getting back to the task. There is no shame in taking time to do something. Enjoying the journey is important, and if you don't put yourself first, you will hit the wall eventually. So look for the little signs that tell you to stop for a bit, and listen. Don't overdo it.


WHY should you take a break?
If you're stuck, pushing it again and again won't help - it may just tire you out more and you need to feel refreshed to start over with new motivation and ideas. Taking a break will put things in perspective and allow you to think about why you have been feeling that way and how you can make it better. Stressing out about not being good enough is never a good option! This is why you need a break: to relax, think things through, reflect on your own mental health and fix it. With some time and self-care, you will slowly find a path to move forward again and fuel your creativity.

HOW should you take a break?
I have tried 'half breaks' before, and it doesn't really work. Like pretending to be on a break, but ending up doing a bit of this and that, because I was feeling too guilty to completely stop and pause. Leave your project out for a bit and do something different: call a friend, watch a film, do a pamper session, instead of working on your project as you usually would. Look for support if you need it: ask friends out, do things together and maybe ask them for advice on your situation. Chances are they've been there too - we all have! - and if they know you well, they will give you relevant advice that you may not have found out on your own. Sometimes, you can't do it all on your own and that's totally ok! So own the fact that you're taking a break and slowing down a bit. I really believe things work out at the right time eventually, though it may take longer than anticipated. Listen to yourself and you will get there!

What do you do when you need a break? What's your favourite way to recharge your batteries?
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