want to read more?

I presume you’ve clicked on this post because you want to read more. So let’s not dilly-dally.

1. Let’s start simple. Take a book with you everywhere. And I mean everywhere. In the past I’ve turned into Rory Gilmore and had several books in my bag depending on mood. But this can get heavy pretty quickly so let’s stick with one book for now. Don’t have a bag? Do you know a lot of books fit in your back jeans pocket? Not your aesthetic? Okay, you have a phone, right? Always be reading a book on your kindle app for instances when you find yourself with no other reading material.

2. Replace social media scrolling with book time. Whenever you find yourself in the inevitable cycle of refreshing the same stale feed, put your phone down and pick up your book instead. Waiting for a bus? Waiting for your frozen pizza to cook? Get rid of the phone and read a chapter instead. Take a book to the toilet. No, that’s not weird. We both know you already take your phone there so why not be somewhat productive instead?

3. If you commute by public transport then this is the excellent time to get a few pages in. You’re gonna need to blast your Spotify to drown out the other distracting passengers but it’s not impossible to concentrate. If you drive to work, sorry, you’re screwed. Just kidding, you could try an audio book. I don’t use them particularly cos I find them to be super expensive. However, if anyone knows where to find some cheap ones then lemme know!

4. Speaking of audio books, they’re also a great way to get into reading if you haven’t physically read a book for a while. Pop one on whilst you drive or cook tea. There is a few free books that you can find on Spotify and some people find an Audible subscription to be good value so there is options out there. The people who say audio books aren’t reading? Ignore these people, they’re stupid and always need to prove they’re the ‘best reader in the world’. Whatever that is.

5. Actually schedule time into your day to read. Like put it on your calendar with your other meetings and events. Be serious if you want to read more and not just talk about it. Some people might get up thirty minutes earlier to fit in a chapter or two. Maybe you have time in between classes, or on your lunch break at work. Or maybe it’s only right before bed that you get your first chance of the day. That’s okay. Even if it’s only ten minutes. Be consistent and give yourself the time.

6. If you’re not enjoying a book, you’re allowed to stop reading it. We have some weird notion that that if a book is started it must be finished. I don’t know where this comes from cos have you seen every episode of every show you’ve ever watched? I definitely haven’t! So why do we suffer when reading? Why do we try and drag ourselves through books we hate? If a book isn’t serving you, release it from your life. Some people go by a 100 page rule, after that if they really don’t like it then they stop. I’m even more brutal, I have no limit. If I know after twenty three pages that the book is not for me then I’ll stop reading it. I might try it again in the future, don’t get me wrong, but for right now it’s shelved and I move on to find another book that I cannot put down.

7. Keep yourself accountable. Whether that’s using a tracker in you bullet journal; updating your progress on Goodreads; making videos or blog posts about your reading or even starting a book club with a few friends. Find a book you’re all excited about. You’ll get through it quicker because you’ll know you can drink wine and talk about it with your friends once you’ve finished!

Why is there seven tips? Not like five or ten or something? Cos I only have seven tips and we all need to calm down about odd numbers that aren’t multiples of five being creepy.

Happy reading!

Love Me – The 1975

give yourself a break

So it’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a proper Friday self-care post schedule and all I can say is sorry. Life gets in the way sometimes. And you know what? That’s totally okay. It’s nice to have hobbies and it’s nice to have discipline. But it’s also nice to stare out the window or rewatch friends for the second time this year.

Especially with hobbies, they’re not gonna be fun if you force yourself to do them. So if you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. I haven’t had anything I’ve wanted to say on self-care recently. Not because I’m going off it or cos I don’t still think you should seek it every day. But because I write about it a lot, have you noticed?! And I wanted to have something new to say to you, not just reword ten other blog posts.

So here it is: give yourself a fucking break.

Seriously.

That big list of tasks you have to do? Yeah, they’ll still be there tomorrow. Don’t want to pick up your journal today? Don’t. Don’t want to do that workout? Don’t. Don’t want to eat healthy or shower? Don’t. Don’t want to smile? Don’t. Don’t want to stop smiling? Don’t. Don’t want to eat junk food? Don’t. Don’t want to miss your time on the yoga mat? Don’t. But work out what you need, right here, right now and go with it.

I think it’s good to have habits and I think it’s fun to have things you want to do every day. I agree that the best way to foster a new habit is through determination and consistency. I believe old habits can fall to the side if they’re not tended to. But they are all just part of you. They don’t define you necessarily. They’re just things you like to do. Or feel like you need to do. But either way, if you don’t want to do them every day, don’t.

You’ve got to make sure that your thoughts and actions are always serving you. As long as they are you’ll be okay. Today I’ve had a somewhat productive, somewhat lazy day. I’ve done some things I like to do and not others. Now I’m enjoying the sunshine as I make my way to work. My day has served me. Has yours served you?

Peace.

Slow It Down – The Lumineers

when life throws you a curveball

About six weeks ago my dad, we call him Terry, found a Groupon for cheap Odeon cinema tickets so we bought it. It runs out next Wednesday. We need to go to two different movie showings and currently we’ve been to zero. You know how it is, life gets in the way. We decided to head to the cinema this morning to get the first one boxed off. About five minutes down the road I decide to check the film time. For no reason, just cos I felt like it. Turns out it started twenty minutes earlier than I thought and we’d already missed the start. Yeah, my bad.

So when life throws you a curveball what are you going to do about it? Be angry? Moan all day? Blame the person who’s at fault and make them feel bad? Or laugh at how stupid you are and go and do something else instead? Me and Tez chose option four.

So skip an hour into the future and we ended up in a garden centre planning our extravagant garden makeover; working out how to grow our own vegetables (conclusion: we have no fucking idea); and sitting on every garden bench we come across whilst talking about life. We treated ourselves to some bougie vegan flatbreads, coffee and elderflower water. Cos why not?

I’d say today is the best weather day we’ve had for about eight months. For real. The sun is shining, there’s a pleasant breeze, and today is the first time I haven’t worn my winter coat since like September. So who would wanna spend it in a dark, indoor cinema anyway!

It feels like the start of summer. And that makes me happy.

So just remember, kids, take each day as it comes. No matter how much you plan, life will find a way to change your circumstances. Realise that there isn’t much point in living if you’re not at least having fun. Do something completely random. Something that sounds weird. Because adventure is anywhere. You just have to remember to look for it.

Have a happy, sunny day, everyone!

Peace.

Summer Mood – Best Coast

people are inherently good

So I’ve been trying to write this piece for almost a year. I’ve started it about eight times and every time I’ve stopped. This post has quickly become the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. And it’s because I want it to be perfect and I know it never will. But it’s happening this time. And I’ll try my best to articulate my feelings.

2017 was the worst year of my life. To anyone who knows me, this will be no surprise. It tested me in ways I never knew I could be tested. It broke me, quite frankly, and I couldn’t really be bothered to continue participating in the world. I sat back and just existed. Just barely. It was an abyss of grief I didn’t think was ever going to reach an ending. I still don’t think it will. But I’m at least navigating it slightly better than one year ago.

Over this past year I have been gifted such generosity and kindness and love. And often I wasn’t even able to return it. But I want to try and say thank you. To every person who has shown me tenderness and friendship and patience these past twelve months. Because even the smallest and simplest of acts – that you may have thought completely insignificant – blew me away and made me feel so loved. I’m so fucking grateful to share my life with the people I do. And I need you to know that.

I think people are inherently good. Now even in the most pessimistic state I’ve ever been in I can still appreciate that. People piss me off on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a minute. I live in the night time because it’s quiet then. Peaceful. And because I don’t have to deal with the thunderous waves of other people’s garbage lives and problems. Yet I believe people to be inherently good. Paradox? Probably. But I think it’s the truth. When you need them, people will drop everything for you. They will put aside their problems or experiences to be completely there for you.

I think of the strength people have shown me and it blows my mind. To the relative stranger, who on that fateful day, put aside your own heartbreak and managed to keep me from falling to pieces.  Your strength baffles me. Completely. You were efficient, kind and caring. I hope I will be able to do the same for someone someday. Although our paths may never cross again, I will never forget you. You will always be my samaritan and I fucking thank you.

To the friends I’ve known longer than myself, where to even begin. For taking me back out into a public place when I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to again, thank you. For gifting me endless vegan treats, thank you. For getting me drunk when I was ready to, thank you. For allowing me to fall apart in front of you with no judgement, thank you. For understanding when I didn’t reply to a message for months on end, thank you. For still messaging me to check in, thank you. For writing me beautiful letters that I will cherish forever, thank you. For supporting me when I made big, somewhat irrational decisions, thank you. For getting me an avocado when I left my job, thank you. For keeping my mind busy, thank you. For giving me things to look forward to, thank you. For making me laugh even when I was determined not to, I thank you the most.

I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I feel harder and more cold in someways. Sometimes I just feel empty. Numb. But other times I feel more free than I ever have before. In ways I’m more reckless and spontaneous because you might as well be. And on some days I have moments of euphoria and extreme happiness and that’s because of the people I get to call friends. The people who I will fight to keep in my life forever. The people who put up with me. I’m positive for the future, you have to be. Otherwise what kind of future would it be? So I’m excited. I’m excited for the future adventures I will take with old friends. I’m excited for the memories I’ll make with the new people in my life and the happiness they have already brought to my days. I’m excited to be alive. And I think you should be too. Don’t ever forget that this world would be a terrible place without your light. And I’m here for you, just as you were here for me.

———

I’ve decided to add in the previous incarnations of this article because although none of them will ever have endings I think they all have important beginnings. Also, now you can see I really wasn’t kidding when I said I could not for the life of me write this fucking post. If you’re still reading, I love you.

———

Some people live to drag you down. But most are inherently good. It takes a hard time in ones life – possibly the worst you’ll ever have – to realise people really do care. Family, friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers. People exude goodness, it’s natural. We are not wired to pit ourselves viciously against each other (that’s propaganda) (but maybe that’s just the vegan in me). We are beings of compassion, love, kindness. We feel empathy. We feel people’s pain. We crave to fix people’s problems and make them feel better because we need them to know that we care. We need them to know we’re there even if we’re geographically not. Small texts, cards, care packages, chocolate, flowers. Just something small. Something to show our love. Just letting you know I’m thinking of you. Don’t feel obliged to respond. Is there anything I can do? If you need space that’s okay. Feel free to message me whenever. I’m always here. For normal or abnormal.

I don’t know, people are just there. They make you feel less alone when you’re so deeply lonely. And sometimes there’s nothing they can do but sometimes there is and they’ll do it willingly. Even if it’s just getting you drunk. If it’s what you need they’re in. You should trust them more. They can deal. Try and stop holding it in so much. Release it. If you don’t voice it you won’t work through it.

———

I believe people come into your life for a reason. I don’t believe in God, Allah, Buddha, the Messiah, Saviour, Coca Cola, Apple, the Skinny Jean or the Iced Coffee. But I believe in people and what they can do for your soul. As Jake Peralta says, ‘I’m in. Eyes closed. Head first. Can’t lose.’ Let’s go.

But seriously, this isn’t a jokey post. I want to thank everyone who’s helped me in the past few months more than they know. So here goes. 

———

But what makes people inherently good? Is it different with everyone or is there a general rule? I think it’s probably both. I think people have their own little quirks that make them them. Whether it’s getting you pissed because you ask them to, talking about the issue directly or tagging you in homemade cocktail videos on instagram. They’re showing you in their own way that they care. And that gives me a warm feeling inside. It makes me feel special, loved. It makes me feel important which is all humans really crave. 

———

Right, I’m giving this post another go cos this is getting ridiculous. You’ll experience many people in life. People who push past you in the street, cut the line in a shop, demand all the energy from a room because they exude self-importance and don’t respect other people’s existence. But I’d like to believe these people are a minority. The world would be a terrible place if you left the house every day expecting to be annoyed or disappointed. Life is too short to spend it angry. I’ve definitely learnt that recently. Now, at the time in my life when I’ve never been more angry.

But you’ve got to choose to be happy. No one’s going to do it for you. They can definitely try but if you don’t feel it it’s not substantial. It won’t last.

And people aren’t all bad, in fact, I think they’re inherently good. Family, friends, even strangers will constantly surprise you. They bring goodness to your life and sometimes you don’t always get to thank them. Or you don’t know how. Whether it’s something as simple as saying good morning to you in the street when you’re having a rubbish day. Or your friend coming home with your favourite flavour of pringles just because they saw them and thought of you. Or maybe they were there for you on the single worst day of your life. People take control of the situation and inject happiness, calmness, safety even action. Whatever the situation calls for.

I’ve thought a lot about the moments in my life recently where people have shown selflessness. Where they’re shown compassion, love, generosity, and kindness. People drop everything and instead just give you everything you need. Even something as simple as holding a door open – they’re halting their day and where they need to be just to let you through the door.

———

So thank you.

march wrap up

Really quick wrap up this month since I read basically nothing! Oops. I’ve somehow fallen back into that bad habit of starting eight books and finishing none. Something to work on in April! So after fourteen excellent months of reading only women authors, I added men back into the mix this March. If you’re gonna add men back in it’s gotta be for someone as boss as Camus.

The Stranger/The Outsider – Albert Camus

This book is everything you need to be reading. In this novel, Camus reaffirms for me the existentialist ideas I learnt and fell in love with in my teens with my brother. Part One I could take or leave; it’s slightly mundane but it’s necessary to set the book up. Part Two, however, will change your life. Meursault makes you question the absurdity of life as well as the social norms that we all desperately follow. Despite Camus never actually calling himself an existentialist, this is the place I’d start if you want to learn more on the school of thought.

Our Numbered Days – Neil Hilborn

I first came across Neil Hilborn when I saw one of his slam poems performed on Youtube. It was ‘OCD’ and it broke my heart. It’s a beautiful exploration of love and mental illness and sadness. The collection follows the same themes adding politics, comedy and self-awareness. Some poems I like better than others and some poems I like a lot. Definitely one I’d suggest picking up.

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

I bought this book after seeing all the Booktube hype last summer. I was excited to read about a badass, young, woman of colour coder. But like many I felt the hype was too, well, hyped. There is next to no talk of coding in the novel, I think there is already more in this article. The main character falls deeply and madly in love in a matter of weeks, as many young adult books are guilty of doing, but I just can’t really buy into that anymore. I enjoyed the San Francisco setting and the blossoming friendships in the book but I don’t see me reading it again.

Non-Stop – Hamilton Original Soundtrack