Isabel Allende on ‘living passionately’

I love this talk by Isabel Allende – it is funny, honest and revelatory.

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The Un-revolutionary act of List-making.

DSC_0443Heyall! Happy mid-week.

Today I bring to you a magic formula that I have recently discovered; one so simple and obvious, yet so impactful. This formula provides the perfect antidote to feeling unmotivated.

I present to you….(it’s nothing revolutionary so don’t get too excited*)….

The art of LIST-MAKING. (*see above statement)

You see, I am the type of person that comes up with an idea, gets excited about it, plans all its intricate details… only for my initial enthusiasm and interest in it to wane a few days later. And here’s the thing: I know I am definitely not alone!

However lately, I find that I have been able to pace my zealousness over new ideas, by creating lists. Each night before I go to bed, I take out a small notebook and create a rough list of all the things I need to accomplish the following day. This has allowed me to map out my path, and forecast where I need to go and what I need to do. My newfound hobby has also prevented me from experiencing the ‘midday slump’, i.e. the point in the day at which I feel least inspired and motivated, due to the fact that I have a reminder of things to do that I am (mostly) excited to accomplish.

I used to refuse to categorise myself as a routine-orientated person, back when I used to think that ‘creativity’ and ‘routines’ were mutually exclusive. However I now know that in order for me to make the most of my free time and maximise my creativity and productivity, making a list and visualising what needs to be done, is an unmissable step in my daily routine.

Structure can be a very attractive thing. Who knew?

Which techniques help you to stay motivated? Share ‘em if you like.

Books I Have Read This Year

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I am a lover of books although…not always a loyal one. In my defence, this is not completely my fault; during the term I can hardly devote time to anything other than feasting my eyes on my course reading lists. And as much as I enjoy reading ethnographies, I do think it necessary to take a break every so often and indulge in a book of my choice.

I generally find myself being drawn to three genres: fiction, self-help and smart-thinking; these are the types of books that excite me the most and stick with me a while after finishing them. Having said that, there have been a couple of books that I have ventured into this year in which a page – usually around the halfway point – remains dog-eared; the point at which I have thought ‘I’ve given you a chance, but I can’t go any further’. I decided to include them in this list anyway, for as much as I did not enjoy them, someone else may.

Here goes. In no particular order:

  • GHANA MUST GO – Taiye Selasi

This is one of my favourite books in general, not least because I find it so relatable. Set mainly in the US and Ghana, Selasi depicts the story of the Sai family – one composed of such different personalities, histories and identities. The style of the book is such that the storyline starts at the end point (the death of a family member), and rewinds to the family history leading up to that event.

Why I loved it: It was focused on personal journeys, it is very descriptive and I got a great sense of who each family member and character was and their complexities.

  • LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST – Anna Deavere Smith

I ordered this book after deciding that I wanted to further explore and work on my creative side. It is a book filled with letters to the reader, and it is rich in wisdom and advice about possible situations one might face on the journey to pursue a creative career.

Why I liked it: It is a well structured book, divided into small sections, which makes it easy to refer back to. It also does not need to be read in a linear fashion, for each chapter presents a lesson separate from the others.

  • ALL ABOUT LOVE – Bell Hooks

I expected this book to be written in an academic manner – full of theories and references, but it wasn’t. It is an easy read and offers up thirteen chapters/lessons about different types of love: spiritual, romantic, self-love, to name a few. Each chapter begins with a page dedicated to a quote which matches its theme.

Why I liked it: It is insightful, reflective and applicable to everyday life and relationships.

  • CATCHER IN THE RYE – J.D Salinger

This has also become one of my favourite books – Salinger’s writing style is such that it sucks you into the story, and makes you feel as though you were accompanying the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, on his adventures. Due to the rich detail and eventfulness of the book, it is easy to forget that the entire story was set over three days.

Why I loved it: The storyline was easy to escape into and I enjoyed the sense of ‘journey’ that it took me on. I could very easily imagine the scenes in action in real life.

  • HUMANS OF NEW YORK – Brandon Stanton

I have been a fan of the HONY website for a while (who isn’t), so when my sister offered me the book as a birthday gift, I was ever grateful. It is a great looking book which features people from the website.

Why I loved it: Flicking through its pages can lead you to feel several different emotions in a short period of time. It also features beautiful photography (duh).

  • TORTILLA FLAT – John Steinbeck

I enjoyed reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ in english literature in school, and so having picked up Tortilla Flat over a year ago, I decided to start it only couple of weeks ago. It is a relatively short book, however I feel myself trudging through it. Sadly, I am not getting as much satisfaction out of this book as I expected, even though it can be funny in parts. Steinbeck tells the story of a group of men living in an area called ‘Tortilla Flat’  in the Monterey region of California, their fortunes, losses and hopes. I am currently just over halfway through, but it is taking me time to read and I am not immersing myself in it as much as I would like.

  • WORKS OF LOVE – Soren Kierkegaard

I won’t say much on this, except it is not necessarily a book that you can read to wind down. It carries many references to Christian teachings about love, and needless to say, is very philosophical and at times, repetitive.

  • NW – Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is my literary angel. Forreal. I really enjoyed NW for the same reason that I like the Catcher in the Rye and Ghana Must Go: it follows the history and complexity of a relationship between best friends, who they have become, their relationships and their own realisations about themselves. It is very believable, funny and honest.

Why I loved it: It is quite random yet that in itself is representative of the place in which it is set – London. It is also hilarious and well written.

That’s about it, folks! Which books have caught your eye this year?

Until next time.

My A/W Style

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It is probably fair to call time on summer where I live – it has been raining on and off for the past week! So in an effort to usher in the new season in a optimistic way, I decided to organise my wardrobe and sartorially prepare for the colder months.

I find that A/W calls for more dramatic dressing – experiencing cold weather where you live can be a curse as much as a blessing in that you can be more experimental with what you wear. Generally, I tend to have a basic ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ uniform as a base, and I tend to add texture, layer and colour with chunky knitted pieces, classic jackets and practical yet stylish boots or lace up flat shoes. When I feel like brightening my look up, I turn to prints for an uplift and a point of interest.

With sunrise and sunset starting to draw closer together, I am looking forward to dressing more creatively gradually working more and more autumnal items into my daily style.




Notting Hill Carnival 2014

Sunday 24th and Monday 25th of August saw the annual Notting Hill Carnival descend upon the streets of west London. And unfortunately on Monday…..so did the rain. Nevertheless, I decided I might as well head out and see what went on.

I have to say that due to the rain doing the most, I did not enjoy myself as much as previous years however, that was in no part due to the actual carnival – it carried on as normal. Who says that a little rain should get in the way of a good party?

After arriving at Notting Hill Gate tube station at around 1:30pm, I could tell that the crowds would not be deterred by the weather – the carnival pretty much started on the tube platform. After heading out of the station and following the flow of people heading towards Portobello road and beyond, I realised that I must have missed most of the floats. However I managed to catch the general gist of this year’s event on film, and compiled the clips the give you a taste. Enjoy!

Beware! Mind-blocks, breakdowns and determining your path

I think the time has come for me to join the life club. After years of feeling comfortable in the knowledge that the pressures of adult life seem far away, I was hit with the realty that ‘grown up’ duties are not so distant as I thought. Over the past two years, and more intensely in recent months, I have been trying to prepare myself for adulthood and its obligations as  best as possible by working, studying, doing internships, moving out, managing to pay rent, bills, etc. However for some reason, I was still unable to avoid the mini-breakdown  which ensued just yesterday afternoon, and I could not help feeling that there seems nothing to look forward to. I couldn’t help but question whether all this effort, ambition and dreaming would be worth it in the long run, or whether at some point I might just have to sacrifice said ambitions in order to meet the necessities of post-university life. For some reason, the transition does not seem so smooth.

Oftentimes, this feeling can be difficult to shake and when left to fester, could result in over-thinking, feeling overwhelmed and ultimately, experiencing a mind-block. On this occasion, however, my internal optimist decided to present itself just in time and remind me that this lack of motivation and discouragement should not – and will not – last for much longer.

Why did this happen?

Honestly, I believe it has something to do with knowing and accepting the things that I am motivated by. In that moment of feeling lost, overwhelmed and a bit hopeless, I felt angry at the idea that my ambitions could not be achieved. I felt resentment towards whatever it was that made me feel as though I had to rely on someone or something else to determine my destiny. I kept wondering if all this work I had put into trying to creating my own path would be in vain.

And then I realised that it did not have to be.

I think that if there has ever been a time to determine your own life path, it has to be now. There are so many platforms of expression and creation both online and in real life which can allow us to explore the multiple facets of our personality and turn them into our main jobs and/ or side hustle. Life does not have to be monotonous, it does not have to be a chore. Irrespective of one’s job or income, I believe that a self-determined career and life is possible. Opportunities abound, and while it can feel as though you are being pulled in several different directions, taking a step back and remembering what motivates you in life can help.

5 tips to help you maintain your wellbeing when starting university

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I just published my first YouTube video! If you are about to start university, college or a new school, you might find this useful. In this video, I cover 5 main tips to help you maintain your wellbeing and maximise your experience at your new institution. Take a look to find out, and leave a comment if you like :).

Creativity in the evenings: the conundrum.

I remember reading somewhere that early mornings and evenings yield the most creativity. To this I can testify. Although I do not witness as many early mornings as I would like to, it seems that as evening comes around, I feel much more inclined to create or research something. It seems that inspiration flows more abundantly when the day has quietened down, and when the daily compulsory tasks such as work or school are not taking over.

I attribute this increased creativity to two main factors. Firstly, because my obligations for that day are taken care of, the evening seems to be the only time in which I can fully relax and use the time to invest in something I truly love to do. Secondly, the fact that it gets dark outside (goes without saying, doesn’t it?) means that I won’t feel as though I am missing out on other things – or at least I won’t be able to see it –  and so I feel less distracted.

However

…I will inevitably become distracted at some point by Tumblr for a few minutes (read: hours), and then owe that to not knowing where to start with all this free time. For example, I will get home after school or work and realise that I have a few hours left before bed to do as I please. Now, because this time is precious and I don’t want to sacrifice any of it, I will try to sketch out a brief to-do list of all the things I want to do within it. In the process however, I become daunted by the prospect of all this free time on my hands, that I end up not knowing where to begin, and then I procrastinate on doing things that I supposedly enjoy. Exhibit A: for the past six weeks I have had iMovie open on my laptop, yet the film I was supposed to edit has been left untouched. If I am completely honest, I have started to forget about it. At some point I will get around to finishing it, maybe even after I post this. Maybe.

Sigh. There are moments in life when you want something so desperately that once it comes to you, you don’t know what to do with it. Time, my friend, is often one of those things.