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

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On My Happy List #04

This week feels like it's taking forever and I've got a ton of work to get through at the moment, so I thought I'd take a break and write a happy list before I submit to complete negativity and refuse to get out of bed tomorrow morning! Before I start, can I just do the generic thing of expressing my shock at how quickly February's gone?! It started with snow, included my birthday, and now mocks, so it's been a bit of an up and down month but it'll be March in a few days which means spring is *finally* nearly here and I can put February to rest for another year. On with the list...


1. Mantras like the one above. I truly live by quotes like these and they really help me to keep positive and remember what's important. I especially love this one as it captures two things that I really believe will make you the happiest you can be; laughing until your stomach hurts with your friends because something is so hilarious, and getting a good night's sleep when you're exhausted. And, as my Mum always said to me, things always look better in the morning after a sleep. Aren't words to live by just marvelous?

2. Changing seasons. In the past couple of weeks the sun has put his hat on and it finally feels like winter is on its way out. I do love winter, particularly when it snows, but I'm so ready for spring now. It made me so happy the other day to see some beautiful snowdrops and bluebells beginning to poke their heads out of the ground; a true indication that spring isn't far off and soon the trees will be blossoming again. There's something remarkable about witnessing one season departing and one arriving so I'm loving this period right now. 

3. Getting a good night's sleep. I don't want to jinx it or anything, but for the past few nights I've been sleeping really well. It amazes me that this is the case considering that I'm still in the midst of a full-blown cold but I'm not complaining! I've also managed to go to sleep, lights out and all, by 10pm for three nights in a row - I've really never felt better... apart from this cold that isn't budging.

4. New jewelry. I was very spoiled on my birthday, particularly with some beautiful new jewelry. I'm loving wearing a new necklace from my sister, earrings from Harry, and a bracelet from my favourites; they somehow manage to make every outfit feel special and that is something to be celebrated!

What about you? What's making you happy currently?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

On My 18th Birthday

This week has been so very busy and manic in the best possible way. It's odd because I find that I go through phases all the time. Phases of wanting to crawl into my shell and spend time at home with no plans other than to watch tv/films with Harry or my Mum. And other phases of loving being out and having lots of plans to do really exciting things. This week I've been in one of the latter phases and although it's calmed down this weekend which is being filled with a revision and very much unwanted cold, I think it really be a week I'll hold dearly in my memory forever. (I know, I know, pass me the sick bucket!)

On Wednesday it was my 18th birthday. 18th birthdays have a well-known reputation of being a big deal. Reaching it means you can have a legal drink, vote in elections, and be classed as a real live adult. Now I'm not sure about being a real live adult, but the other two are pretty exciting in my opinion. Don't ask me why but I was a little nervous in the lead up to my birthday. I suppose it's because I really wanted it to be a 'good' day; one that I'll have fond memories of and look back on in my 80s telling the grandkids about - that kind of day. But I didn't want to expect too much because sometimes I find that expectations can outweigh the actual experience.

I needn't have worried though, Wednesday was such a wonderful day I can't even tell you. What I will say is that I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing family and friends, and that I was spoilt absolutely rotten! I won't go on too much because this blooming cold is making me sleepy and I want to get in an episode of Sherlock before I get to bed (yes, I know I'm incredibly late to jump on the bandwagon but at least I'm finally on it...) so for once I'll let the pictures do the talking. Before I go, I must say that it was a day filled with laughter, incredible food, Articulate, a drink at the OXO Tower Bar and reminders that the best things in life really aren't things at all. I hope you're all having a fab weekend!


Saturday, 14 February 2015

On What You Need

Sometimes, just sometimes, it's okay to let things go, to forget about everything that you're supposed to be doing, and to give yourself a break. Sometimes you have those days where, for whatever reason, you just can't work. And, as I've mentioned before, I'm trying to be kinder to myself this year. Which means that, when this happens, instead of getting frustrated, I'm going to try to give myself a break. Maybe a day off from pushing myself. Yesterday was one of those days.

It's always the way by the last day of term, I find. That both your body and your brain is too tired, too fed up, and too ready for the holidays to work properly. So, yesterday, during my double free, I went out with my friend Lish and we sat in Pret, over a cup of tea, and talked about everything. There's nothing better than catch ups with your girlfriends and talking through it all to reassure you that we're all in this together, which makes everything that much better.

In the evening, in the same mindset, I went for dinners and cocktails at Las Iguanas with the girls. It was the perfect girls' night. We even went for oreo waffles after. Cocktails were drunk, food was eaten; I cannot recommend Las Iguanas highly enough. But that wasn't what made last night so fun. It was the laughing, and the talking, and just being with such wonderful people, that reminded me that it's okay to have these days. To leave things, and come back to them in a better mindset, is okay. And, most of all, to be kind to yourself is more than okay; it's the best thing you can do.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone, I hope, whatever you're doing, you have a wonderful day! xo

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

On A Word From The Wise #03

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've written one of these posts. The basic idea of these posts is that I look in this wonderful book to get a word from the wise on whatever theme is most relevant to what's going on in my life. As an avid quote-lover/hoarder, this is most definitely my cup of tea. But if you want to know more about the story behind this book, you can find it here.

I've been really inspired recently by both Rosie's new year's resolution to have a balanced life, as well as Carrie's recent video on how much of a difference being positive and telling yourself you're going to have a good day rather than a bad one can really make. So, today the quotes I've chosen are on the theme of being busy; something that I'm sure we all are most of the time.
"In a society that judges self-worth on productivity, it's no wonder we fall prey to the misconception that the more we do, the more we're worth." - Ellen Sue Stern
I'm definitely guilty of this, as I'm sure many of us are. It's all too easy when you don't get everything ticked off your to-do list to feel bad about it and as though you've failed, I know I do a lot of the time. But I'm trying to remind myself to be kind to myself and to have a more positive attitude, focusing on what I've achieved rather than on what I haven't achieved. I don't think I'm a terribly pessimistic person, but I've recently realised that I'm not the most optimistic person either. So, over the past couple of days, I've really tried to look at things with a more positive outlook. And, surprisingly, I think it has really lifted my mood and helped my productivity. It's amazing what you can do when you're in a more positive mindset, which I never realised before!
"I am convinced that there are times in everybody's experience when there is so much to be done, that the only way to do it is to sit down and do nothing." - Fanny Fern
 My Mum is a definite advocate of this mentality - she's always told me when I think everything's getting too much, to just take five minutes to just be. At first that seemed completely ridiculous to me; when I have a million and one things to do (or, at least, it feels like I have that many things to do!) how can I have time to sit down and do nothing?! However, it really does work. I've definitely found this with mindfulness as well. I can be absolutely exhausted and lacking any motivation but when I stop and allow myself time to just be and concentrate on the present, I feel refreshed and my productivity can soar. It's definitely odd but I suppose it's all part of taking care of yourself and I must admit, it's had a huge impact on me.

The main point that these two quotes highlight for me is how important it is to be kind to yourself. To allow yourself to make mistakes and not get everything done and to just be for a while. There's no point in me stressing out over things that I can't change, and that is something I think I'm slowly learning.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

On Snow

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I was lucky enough to wake up to snow. Unfortunately I had to go into school because there wasn't enough snow for it to be a snow day but, had I not gone I probably wouldn't have ventured outside into the snow at all, so in a way it was a silver lining. And, although seeing snow from your window is beautiful, it's nowhere near as stunning as walking through it and taking it all in.

I suppose it sounds silly that frozen water falling and settling in white flakes can brighten someone's morning, doesn't it? I, for one, have never been all that wowed by nature, but snow just 'does it' for me. Walking to the bus stop on Tuesday morning I felt so calm and peaceful and happy to start the day. Which, let me tell you, isn't the usual occurrence leaving my house at 7:30am on a weekday!

The snow just made everything beautiful, and in turn, that made me appreciate everything around me. Instead of spending the bus journey on my phone or with my head in a book as usual, I spent it looking out the window and admiring how the snow affected everything and how happier everybody seemed because of it, or maybe that was just me.

There's no doubt about it, I am definitely a snow person. I know that it can be rather annoying after a few days when it turns to slosh and limits your travelling, but there's nothing quite like waking up to snow to bring you back to the present and make you appreciate everything around you. Or, at least, that's what I found on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

On My Happy List #03

I've spent the past hour and a half sitting at the above desk doing revision for a test I have on Friday; not my idea of an evening well-spent, I can tell you! My desk is in need of a serious tidy up as you can see, I'm absolutely shattered, and thought I rather deserve a little break with a bowl of grapes (healthy snacking for once!). I thought I'd take this time to write a little happy list as I haven't done one for a while and so that I don't let myself sink into utter misery at the fact that it's only Tuesday.

1. Relaxing weekends. The two weekends before last I went to 18th birthday parties on both Saturdays in Surrey where I used to live. While I had a wonderful time and it was lovely to catch up with so many people, they both left me exhausted and longing for a good night's sleep in my own bed. This weekend just gone I did exactly that: Harry came round on Saturday, we watched lots of tv and I made fajitas for dinner (which were divine if I do say so myself!), and on Sunday I went out for lunch at Nando's with the girls followed by a trip to the theatre to see one my of best friends in a play. Needless to say, there were no late nights and this weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

2. Upcoming trips. For my lovely Lucy's 18th birthday Hannah, Rosie and I promised to book her two tickets to visit Highclere Castle (the castle in which Downton Abbey is set) and, when the summer tickets went on sale yesterday, I went ahead and booked them. I am now very overexcited as Lucy has said that she'd like to take me which means that I get to go to the Downton Abbey castle. Where Downton Abbey is filmed. With the person who introduced me to Downton Abbey. It's safe to say, I can't contain my excitement at all and it's sure to be a wonderful day out!

3. Snow snow snow snow snow. I'm of the opinion that if it's going to be so ridiculously cold, which it has been over the past week or so, there may as well be some snow to make up for it. My wish was finally granted this morning and it was beautiful, even if it didn't last very long. Anyway, it made me so happy that there'll be more on this later this week, hopefully. 

4. Family pregnancies. What better news is there than a pregnancy?! I found out at Christmas that one of my sisters is pregnant and it is such wonderful and exciting news. The prospect of becoming an Aunty for the fifth time is just as exciting as it was when I found out I was becoming one for the first time! I can't wait to meet the little one, although I'll probably be waiting a while as my sister lives in New Zealand and I don't think I'll be able to make it out there for a few years yet. Oh well, it just means that I can be grateful for how great Skype and Facebook are, which means that I get to see what's going on despite being so far away. 

5. My birthday month. My 18th birthday is on the 18th of February, which means there are just 15 days to go now! There's always excitement when your birthday's not far off, but this year is especially exciting as it marks me becoming a real live adult which, let me tell you, doesn't feel right at all. I'm hoping it'll be a lovely day and that adulthood will be just as much fun as my past few teen years have been. 

What about you? What's making you happy currently?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Currently #05

One of my favourite photos: from my family's Boxing Day walk

Reading :: How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. From what I've gathered, there are quite a few opinions on this book and I can in no way comment on the book as a whole, having only read 100 pages so far. However, I'm enjoying it very much and applaud Moran for writing so honestly and wittily about very real issues that women face in today's society. So far I have particularly loved her chapter on feminism. Although I may not agree with every opinion she puts forward and could not myself publish such intimate details of my life, I think that she presents a great argument and it's always important to know about every side to such an argument. It's only been in the past few months that I've really begun to call myself a feminist, because it's only been in the past few months that I've really begun to understand what that word means. I think it's so important that it's talked about so if you're interested, I would highly recommend watching Emma Watson's speech at the UN and picking up a copy of this book. If nothing else, it's great at making me laugh out loud and I would propose you read it for that alone. 

Eating :: All of the food. Or that's what it feels like. I am being more conscious about what I eat at meal times but I'm afraid that that just encourages me to snack on unhealthy things before/after/during them. It's just so hard when cake is being offered round to say no. And I have been telling myself 'just say no Anna' but, to be honest, I don't really want to, because, let's face it, I want the cake. Oh well, I shall try harder next month. Or maybe I will work on that during Lent. Please tell me that someone feels my struggle too?!

Thinking about :: Next year (academically). I've begun to feel pretty excited for university having felt pretty much terrified for the past few months. Needless to say, I'm still scared and can't truly imagine not living at home with my Mum, but I've realised that it's actually pretty damn exciting and will hopefully be some of the best years of my life - that's what they say, isn't it? I've also been thinking about mindfulness. I know I'm quite late to jump on this bandwagon but I've only started trying mindfulness recently as part of my goal to live more in the present this year. I've just been doing 10 minute blocks at a time, every day if I can, and I must say, it's been doing wonders for me. The effect after 10 minutes is hard to describe but it's almost like taking a power nap; when I open my eyes I feel so refreshed and peaceful - it's bloomin' wonderful. 

Watching :: Gossip Girl and Revenge. GG still, I know! I've nearly finished re-watching it again. I just can't help myself, it's definitely my guilty pleasure. Revenge is also a bit of a guilty pleasure if I'm being honest. My Mum and I have both been hooked to the drama of it for a couple of years now and I can't really see that waning any time soon. I did give Wolf Hall a go but was disappointed having anticipated that it would be great, and found it very slow which was a bit of a let down. 

Loving :: That the days are most definitely getting lighter. I've had enough of the cold weather and am ready for spring now so, although I'd quite like a snow day or two, I'm welcoming all signs of spring (not that there are many yet). And the sky not being pitch black when I leave the house anymore is lovely and a sure sign that spring isn't too far off, thank goodness!
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