A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Monday, 31 March 2014

On The Things I Want To Do Before I Die

1. Have a career that is makes me happy and is fulfilling
2. Spend a few months in Italy
3. Watch the sunrise from somewhere amazing
4. Have children and give them a loving home
5. Go to New York
6. Stay in New Zealand with my sister
7. Go on an unforgettable road trip
8. Make a difference 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

On Journal Day #06

"Everyone has different things that keep them going. Sometimes it's the people around us, other times it might be what's waiting for us on the other side of hard work. Whatever it may be, there's usually some sort of motivation to get up every day, get things done, or maybe even go the extra mile. With that said, what would you say is your biggest motivation in life? Has is always been this way?"

From here

This was a tough one to decide on for me, especially because I find that the motivation I feel and what it is can so easily vary from day to day. Some days I wake up and don't feel like there's much at all. For instance, if it's a weekend and I have plans to go out with my friends or Harry or family, I'll usually wake up with a big smile on my face, knowing that I'm going out and that will be my motivation to get up on that day. On other days, possibly harder ones when I'm getting up for a long day of school, my motivation tends to be more that I know I'll learn on that day. And that by learning I'm a step closer to getting to where I want to be, even though on some days I'm not completely sure where that is.

In a way I think that that's a bit sad, that we tend to be striving to get somewhere. I mean, of course, it shows ambition, which I think is essential for achievement. But sometimes I think it can distract us from living in the now because, from my experience, people's motivation tends to be because of something they're striving for that might be a long way off, instead of appreciating the now. Having said that, I don't know where I'd be without my goals because they really do help me to know that sometimes, when things are crappy, they just might be better in the future. 

Some days my motivation is the people around me, those that inspire me. My friend Mackinlay soldiering on with her head held high every day, even though things are hardly ever easy for her. My mum leaving for work to do a career she loves because she was brave enough to go back to college ten years ago, and still managing to provide for me and my Gran whilst being a single mum. All my other friends for making me laugh and never failing to be there for me when I need them. Harry for making every day better than it would be otherwise. All these people inspire me, they become my motivation to get out of bed and be the best person I can be. They remind me that not only do they deserve me to be that, but I also owe it to myself a little bit.

I think that, ultimately, my motivation comes from the things that make me feel truly alive; laughing, smiling, learning, experiencing new things, knowing that there are second chances, that I can learn from failure, trusting in people and having them trust in me, the list could go on and on. But those are the things that are most motivating for me in my life because they make me want to get out of bed and get ready for the day, knowing that it might bring all or some of those great things. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

On My Spring To-Do List

1. Make sure I book an eye test - this is desperately needed!
2. Revise for AS exams 
3. Organise summer plans
4. Try and be out in the sunshine (assuming there will be sunshine!) whenever possible
5. Give myself breaks from revision with friends
6. Buy birthday presents for people with spring birthdays
7. Finally get some pictures up on my wall
8. Celebrate the end of lent by eating a ton of chocolate for the first time in 6 1/2 weeks

Friday, 21 March 2014

On Blogging & Technology

I know that everyone's been talking about how different the world is now that there are so many new social media sites that result in us spending probably way too much time on our phones, instead of spending our time doing something that will, arguably, be more worthwhile. But I've never really felt all that affected by it before, sure I tweet and use Tumblr and Instagram and I even blog, and yet I've never fully understood what people mean when they talk about how it's affected the blogging world. And then I read Meg's post.

I adore Meg's blog, it is the most honest blog I have ever come across, and she just has this incredible gift for writing that genuinely makes me a little bit happy when I see that she's published a post. I aspire to have a blog that's so beautifully written. The thing is, recently I've felt a little more sucked in than usual to the lives people convey on Instagram. People always seem to look so perfect, with so much going on in them. And the other week I actually found myself thinking of what I could post on it to add to my photos.

I couldn't believe I was thinking that. I know it may not sound like a lot, but in that moment, I forgot that just because people put pictures on the internet of things that look so perfect, in reality they rarely really are. And I don't know about you, but I would much rather have a genuinely happy and filled life, rather than one that looks great on Instagram but is one that feels empty to its author.

I'm not saying that everyone that posts on Instagram is one of these people, of course not, I like to share photos on there, and see what other people are up to. I just want to remind myself that it should all be taken with a pinch of salt, because, of course, people filter what they put on there, it's not their real life down to a t. And in this modern world where we're updating our social media what can seem like every minute, I hope we don't forget how to live in the moment.

Take for instance last weekend, which I wrote about on Tuesday. I only have two pictures from it, of the beautiful landscape in Hyde Park. When I was writing it up, I felt a little guilty. But then I told myself to snap out of it because I would much rather know myself what a great day I had, instead of having lots of pictures so that everyone else can think I had a great day. In that moment I forgot that I write this blog to write, not as a photo blog, because I am no master of photography but I like to think I can string a few words together that, on occasion, read well.

I don't want to be sucked into this constant technology use and instead I want to use it for me, not for show. And I hope to keep this blog as somewhere I can write, as honestly as I can, like so many amazing blogs I follow, so that a few years down the line, I can look back on these posts and remember what life was like in that period and hopefully smile.

So, by all means, have a read of Meg's post and let me know what you think about it all, I'd love to hear your points of view. I think it's a really relevant topic at the moment and that it's definitely worthwhile to talk about it.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, I'm off to go out for dinner with Harry xo

Thursday, 20 March 2014

On Journal Day #05

"We all encounter challenges on a daily basis. You may consider yours something small, like having enough time in the day to accomplish everything you set out to do, or it may be a bit bigger- perhaps something you have to overcome mentally or emotionally, or even a struggle when dealing with a difficult person. Whatever the case, take a look at your daily life- what would you say is the biggest challenge you deal with? Or if you have a past struggle you were able to overcome, how did you do it? This week, write about a challenge you currently deal with on a day to day basis, or discuss one you managed to get past."

I would say the biggest personal challenge I face on a daily basis at the moment is probably my inability to let things go that are beyond my control without getting frustrated, often with myself. Let me expand on that. I'm a little controlling about some things, for instance, if I have to be somewhere and I'm going to be late or I miss the train I wanted to get, or any little thing like that, to me, it's a really big deal.

I don't like it and I soon get frustrated, sometimes I even feel like crying, which is really sad, I know. But, I think I'm getting better. I'm realising more and more that these things are beyond my control, and I can't do anything about them. And really, at the end of the day, who cares if I'm going to be a bit late for something? People will understand. And if they don't understand, then that's their problem and not mine. I find it hard to comprehend in those moments that I'm doing my best and it's really okay.

For example, about a month ago I went on a Philosophy and Ethics trip with my school. Because we're sixth form the teachers don't take us there, we tend to just make our own way and meet in London, which is where most of our trips are. I went with a couple of friends, and when we got off the tube, we found it difficult to find the place where we were supposed to meet for a conference. As time went on, I was getting more and more stressed about it. It got to the point where I just wanted to walk ahead so that I didn't get angry at other people. I hated it, I hated feeling like that over something so stupid. We got there about fifteen minutes late and nobody even batted an eyelid, when I had gotten overly frustrated about it. I even know that it's stupid to get stressed over, and that makes me more annoyed at myself.

It's funny because I often see how differently people react in similar situations. I guess some people are really easy going. Sometimes I wish I could be like that, but I'm not. I've always been a planner and I guess that's why I get frustrated when a plan I've made falls apart. But there are positives to it too. It means that I'm organised, I know what I'm doing and I'll hardly ever feel like I don't know how to deal with things because I'm so far behind.

For me, it's just about finding the balance so that I don't get too wrapped up in a plan I've made. Because the truth is, life doesn't know your plan, and it won't stick to it. It will throw things at you that in turn will throw whatever you might have planned completely out of the water. And I shouldn't be afraid of that, I should embrace it. It means I'll be a better adapted person, and I think it's so important to be able to respond to change, even when it's last minute. 

So that's what I'm finding difficult at the moment. Granted, it's not a huge thing, but I think I'll be a better, happier person if I can overcome it. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

On Picnics In Hyde Park & Sunny Days

First of all I wanted to apologise for the lack of posts around these parts recently that aren't feature-based, I've had a hectic couple of weeks with school work and tests and blogging is likely to be a bit hit and miss in the next couple of months as I get closer to exam time (boo!), but for the moment I'm here so don't panic, whatever you do!

I can't get over how lucky we've been with the weather over the past week or so, especially following what felt like three months of nothing but rain. Strange as I find it, the sun really does put me in a much better mood than I think I'd otherwise be so Harry and I decided to go into London on Saturday and make the most of the beautiful weather.

We met at Clapham Junction, stopped off at Victoria to pop into M&S for some lunch and caught the tube to Hyde Park Corner. Luckily we got there just before what seemed like everyone and their dog did and found a spot in the sun. I love picnics, there's something about sitting in the sun with a packed lunch (particularly when it's from M&S) and just talking about anything that comes up, it makes lunch so much more fun than usual.

Harry decided to taunt me by buying chocolate covered raisins, one of my all time-favourite snacks, when he knows I've given up chocolate for lent, and after, of course, we spent about an hour and a half sitting/lying in the sun and talking about all kinds of things. As the park was getting more and more crowded, we thought we might as well make use of our travel cards and get the tube to somewhere else.

I suggested getting the tube to Covent Garden to visit Creme De La Crepe, my favourite creperie that Lucy introduced me to a few years ago, but then contemplated that my favourite crepe, the Milky Bar Kid, is the filling of melted white chocolate and strawberries. In fact pretty much all of the most appealing crepes had chocolate in them, which was a no no for me, but we went to Covent Garden and had a look in the Moomin shop, which I also love and am now coveting a phone case from. Sadly, I can't justify spending £20 on a phone case, it seems a bit ridiculous, even if it is adorable!

I hadn't really thought through going to Covent Garden, because I then had the idea of going to the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington, so essentially I'd taken us in a bit of a circle (whoops!), but I hold that I have never claimed to have a decent sense of direction, and at least we were getting the tube so it wasn't too strenuous!

I adore the Hummingbird Bakery, and picked up one of their cupcakes to eat on the train home. Harry and I were feeling pretty tired out by this point, and I had a bit of a headache from sitting in the sun for a long time, so we hopped on the train back to his house and had a quiet night in, ordering a takeaway and watching My Week With Marylin - which I thought was an excellent film.

It was a wonderful day and it made me really appreciate now living in London, and what a beautiful place it can be in the sunshine.

Monday, 17 March 2014

On My Bedside Table

1. My bedside lamp
2. Lavender spray
3. Nivea cream
4. My glasses
5. A little painting of a strawberry that I've had for years
6. A pile of books, both to be read and read
7. Last week's issue of The Week magazine
8. My one line a day, five year diary
9. A pen to write in it
10. A few photo albums

Friday, 14 March 2014

On Journal Day #04

"If you had unlimited resources, what political or social issue, or area of scientific or medical exploration would you fund? Do you have a cause that is dear and near to your heart that you'd put your time, energy, and money into if you had the means? Tell us about it, along with a bit of background explaining where you're coming from."

This prompt has actually come at a really appropriate time for me. I was trying to think of something personal, specific to me that I would fund because, whilst I completely support cancer research and more well-known causes like world peace, that isn't personal to me - it's not something I have had a lot of experience of, for which I count myself incredibly lucky. I can't imagine how hard it must be for friends and family to face an illness like that. But I decided to be a little selfish in my choice.

Last weekend I went to visit my beautiful friend, Mackinlay, in hospital where she has just had the second operation in just over a year. I really hope she doesn't mind me writing this post, but I wanted to share why this cause means so much to me. Mackinlay has Cerebral Palsy, affecting just her legs and meaning she has to use a wheelchair and can't move her legs. 

This operation, which I won't go into too much detail about, has left her in indescribable pain. It was difficult for me to see someone so dear to me in that much pain, when there was nothing I could do. I was glad I could make Mackinlay laugh for a while though, and hopefully take her mind off of it for a second, even though I know that's incredibly unlikely.

Mackinlay is the strongest person I have been blessed enough to know, she puts everybody before herself always, no matter what she is going through herself. In many ways, life has been very unkind to her, and it makes no sense to me why someone so lovely has to go through this. But she does, and she keeps her head held high and just does it, because that's the kind of person she is. I can only pray that I could ever be that strong in my life. 

So for me, my cause would be funding money into this illness. I have absolutely no idea whether anything could ever be done about it so that she could walk, but if I could that would be the thing that I would pick, in an instant, if it were possible. 

Us a couple of years ago, it's so crazy how quickly it's gone!

Monday, 10 March 2014

On The Things I Want To Make

1. A wonderful life for myself and those that are with me for it.
2. Red velvet cake.
3. Memories that I can fondly look back on, knowing that I wouldn't have changed anything.
4. New friends whenever I have the opportunity, of course whilst keeping the brilliant ones I already have.
5. Rainbow cake. 
6. Myself into the best person I can be.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

On Journal Day #03

They say hindsight is 20/20, and with good reason- looking back at something always gives us a better view. We're often able to really see how our choices and decisions then shaped our today, and examine what we would have done differently given the chance. When looking back though, we often look way back, but for this exercise stay a little closer to present time and look back just 12 months. If you could go back just one year, what would you tell yourself? What advice would you offer about everything you've experienced?

I wrote about hindsight in my first Journal Day entry, and a little bit about where I was in my life a year or so ago. I guess you could say since this has been such a year of change, I have thought about what it's been like a lot. And when thinking about it, I decided that rather than going over it again, I would write this entry as a kind of open letter to myself one year ago, giving myself advice, with the knowledge I know now, a year on. 

To my sixteen year old self, 

Things seem pretty crazy right now, you find it hard to stand not knowing roughly what's coming in the foreseeable future so all the changes you're anticipating going through in moving house and school have taken over your mind a bit too much. You're worrying so much, about the move, about the new school, about your life now and taking your GCSEs, but you really don't need to, because everything works out okay. Give yourself a break, believe in yourself and have the confidence to know that you'll do well in these exams, because you give all that you've got for them. Know that a new school, as terrifying as it seems right now, will open your eyes in ways that you can't contemplate right now and lead to you meeting some amazing new people. That that special, wonderful boy that's in your life who you're a bit afraid of losing because of all these changes, he stays right there, and things will be just as wonderful with him a year on. Equally know that your friends, the friends who have been there through everything, they aren't going anywhere either. Sure, you might not see them everyday anymore, but that won't affect your friendship because those friendships are incredibly strong. Saying goodbye to your school will be hard, but easier than you think once it's done. Don't be so afraid of life, the chances are it's not always out to get you, and this opportunity isn't there to mess things up because you've been so happy the past few months, in fact it's just the opposite, so don't lose your faith in the things life can bring. Try not to feel like you need to meet so many people's expectations, because you're okay as you are, you're more than okay, and the people who don't see that aren't worth wasting your time over. Don't blame your mum for all that's happening, listen to her and try to understand that she always has your best intentions at heart and that, as always, those intentions pay off. You don't give yourself enough credit, right now you can't understand why this school seems to want you, why they're offering you a full bursary to attend their school, all based on an interview that you didn't think was all that extraordinary, well it's because you have more qualities than you realise, and they know how hard you'll be willing to work to do the best that you possibly can. Try not to be so hard on yourself, that's the most important thing I can tell you, from a year on. You beat yourself up so much for things that are beyond your control, things that you couldn't do anything about, at the end of the day, just like everybody else, you're only human, and you're trying your best, which is all you can do. 

Read previous Journal Day entries here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

On Loving Myself More

As I mentioned in last week's list, it's so easy to tear ourselves down whilst thinking that everyone else around us is 'perfect'. So I've really thought about what I could do to treat myself more nicely in writing this list.

1. Set aside more 'me' time.
2. When thinking something negative about myself, reminding myself of a positive thing.
3. Thinking about the difference I might have made to people (hopefully good!).
4. Allowing myself to make mistakes and get things wrong sometimes without beating myself up about it so much.
5. Allocating more time to the things I really want to do.
6. Stop holding myself back because of feeling nervous to try something.
7. Take more opportunities.
8. Stop being afraid to stand up for myself when it's necessary to. 
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