I’ve been a little absent from my blog recently, and I thought it was time for a catch up. I’ve been tweeting and Instagramming, checking my notifications, occasionally scribbling in one of my notebooks, but every time I go to click that big blue ‘Write’ button on my blog dashboard I shrink away from the command and turn to something less daunting. This post is more personal than I would usually get on my blog, but it’s been brewing in my head for weeks and maybe it’s the thing I need to write to get my mojo back…so here goes.
As I write this I’m sat in a cafe, doing something I’ve never done before; taking two days off work just to do nothing. No holiday, no visits to friends, no plans at all except reading books, quietly working through some life admin and recovering from an intense week. A week of extremes, of mourning and celebration, of endings and beginnings.
During the week we said our goodbyes to my grandma, a warrior of a woman who was such a force of nature the universe saw fit to name a storm after her in the week that she died. In contrast, I then spent the weekend with the other side of my family watching my cousin get married and sharing in the start of a new phase of his life. Continue reading
At times like this, when life is hard and my reality feels a little too hard to face, escapism is key. Browsing flights, looking at job adverts in far-off cities and binge watching US teen dramas are all part of this coping mechanism, but nothing soothes me like curling up under a blanket with a book.
As an avid reader who always likes to have a book to hand and packs several books for every holiday, you’d expect me to have leapt on the Kindle bandwagon. But I’ve never been keen. Yes they’re super convenient and I’d save so much suitcase space, but for me nothing outweighs the comfort I feel when I open a paperback. I love the feel of the paper between my fingers, the musty smell of the pages, the beautiful cover designs. Continue reading
Ever since I started travelling I’ve loved to take photos, and the rise of Twitter and Instagram have done nothing to curb my addiction. Nowadays I spend most of my life in the same city, but luckily Leeds is incredibly photogenic and I’m never short of beautiful things to capture. Of course I’m one of the amateurs, and I love to stalk the feeds (just their feeds, before you call the police) of photographers around Leeds who really capture the feel of the city. Here are five of my favourite Leeds Instagram accounts you should be following. Continue reading
I love having money. I love the feeling of security and independence is gives me, to look at my bank balance and know that I’m financially prepared for whatever life throws at me. I’m not the most organised or financially savvy person – I don’t have a budget and barely understand how my taxes are calculated – and yet most months I manage to put at least a small amount of my salary into my savings account, without giving up my travel addiction. Here are a few of the simple little things we can all do to make sure we keep building that savings fund. Continue reading
I’ve almost missed the window to write my ‘new year’ piece. It’s ok, I suspected I would. January usually starts slowly for me – while everyone else seems to be making lists of goals, planning new projects and generally carpe diem-ing their way into the new year, I emerge from my Christmas stupor dazed and lethargic, with only enough energy to drag myself through the days.
My birthday is 2 weeks into January, and this is when I tend to look round and take stock of my life’s progress; not as the calendar rolls into a new year but as I myself clock up another year on the planet (this year, that number is 26). As I look back on the year just gone and the one ahead, I’m taking the ‘word of the year’ approach, and searching for the words that I would like to define the first year of what some would call my late twenties. Continue reading
So. 2016 has been quite a ride, huh? While 2015 was a harder year for me on a personal level, I feel like 2016 has really taken a toll on all of us. Brexit, Donald Trump, Aleppo, terrorist attacks and an abnormally large number of celebrity deaths have all affected us in ways big and small, and while we’re all jokingly praying for 2016 to be over, in reality many of the events of this year are going to follow us into the next, their full impact still to be felt.
It’s hard to know what to do in the face of such tragedy, such hate, such uncertainty. I think all we can do is to be true to our best selves, to defend what is right wherever we can and take the high road even when others try to pull us down to their level. I went to a spoken word event recently where someone read an open letter by Sarah Kendzior, and a quote really resonated with me – “If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.”
We also need to appreciate what we have, and find our own ways to make life good when it feels pretty rubbish. Even when the world seems overwhelmingly horrible, we should appreciate how much more fortunate we are than others and count our blessings – that is what will get us through. With that in mind, I’m going to bring this mini-essay-rant to a close, and talk about the best things that have happened to me in 2016. Continue reading
I don’t think of myself as an extravagant or materialistic person. I couldn’t care less about the latest tech gadgets, I second-guess every item of clothing I buy, and meal plan meticulously to avoid wasting food. My only real vice is travel – I will happily splurge on flights for a destination I really want to visit or an experience I don’t want to miss out on – but even then I hunt for deals and stay in budget accommodation to cut down on unnecessary expenses. I suppose I ultimately believe that the best place for my money to be is in my bank account.
A few weeks ago I was talking to my grandma on the phone about the flat I’m currently renting, and a familiar topic came up. “Have you considered buying?” she asked (it sounds so simple when she says it). I replied that buying wasn’t a feasible option for me right now and that I wasn’t willing to put down roots just yet, to anchor myself in Leeds with a property. “You’ll have to settle down sooner or later” was her reply. She must think I’m older than I feel. Continue reading
American Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and hot on its heels approach Christmas and New Year. While there are things that grate on me about this time of year, one of the undeniable pros is the chance to spend time with your loved ones and take stock of all the things that really matter to you.
While the stresses and pressures of the rest of the year can push us into petty arguments and the nursing of minor grievances, now is an ideal time to take a step back and appreciate just how damn lucky we are. Today I’m counting 30 little things that I’m thankful for, and reminding myself not to take them for granted. Continue reading
It’s been two weeks since I last posted on my blog. The date stamp of my last post sits there accusingly, silently judging me for my absence, for my laziness. I’m not narcissistic enough to think that anybody is affected by, or even notices, the inactivity in my little corner of the internet, but I usually like to post a couple of times a week; there’s a therapy in putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and the feeling of being productive in an area that isn’t linked to my job gives me a certain satisfaction.
But what happens when you don’t feel that sense of wellbeing? What happens when the thing that’s supposed to be your hobby just feels like a drain? Continue reading