Category Archives: Every day life

Three Ways To Stay Motivated and Achieve Your Health Goals

Many of us set goals to be healthier, however,  think back to how many times you have said ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ or ‘ After the weekend’. Sometimes we fall short of achieving our goals simply because we don’t know where to start. Being healthy is hardly a SMART goal

Although you may have good intentions with this goal, and you may even follow through for a while, it can be far too easy to fall back into a bad routine. Especially when your goal is so broad and vague. 

From researching specific things like ‘what is EGCG’ or ‘Fat burning workouts’ to shopping for fresh food so that you can have an attainable meal plan, there is no denying that a little organizing is needed to succeed. 

There are ways to remain motivated though, have a look at three of them below: 

Have A Plan 

When you decide on your goal, whether it’s losing weight, gaining a positive view of your body, or eating healthier, it will be far easier to stick to if you put together an in-depth plan. Doing this, will help you to see the bigger picture and also provide you with the steps on how you can work towards your goal on a daily basis. 

For instance, if your overall goal is to eat your 5 A Day every day, make sure you do things like create lists of the fruits/veg you want to shop for, the recipes you need to follow, and meal plan/prep to set yourself up for success. And if your plan is to run a 5k, piece together a routine by blocking out days and times in your calendar when you’ll train. When you put together your plan, a great way to stay motivated is to also make a list of how you’ll feel once you have achieved your goal. 

Celebrate And Track Your Progress

Making your plan is a great place to start, however, when you track your progress it can serve as the best way to stay motivated. 

Keep track of things like your successes, progress, better mood, increased energy levels etc. (Create a sticker chart! Who doesn’t love getting a sticker?) Keeping track of your progress can help you to see results in real time and are perfect for looking back on when you feel unmotivated or like you’re falling behind. In addition to this, tracking your progress can help you know when to reward your progress in a bigger way. If you manage to get your 5 A Day in for 30 days in a row, think about treating yourself to a vegetarian feast at your favorite Indian restaurant. Ticked off every day on your Couch to 5K program? Maybe you purchase a new pair of running shoes. 

Switch It Up 

Lastly, but certainly not least, one of the great ways to stay motivated is to look at different approaches. When you feel like quitting, ask yourself, “Is there a way I could switch things up that would make me feel more inclined to stay on track?” 

Eating the same food or doing the same exercise over and over can get very boring. Can you host a potluck with your friends and ask them to bring their favorite dishes featuring fruits & veggies? Make sure everyone brings the recipes and swap them around! Sick of your running routine? Can you try a new route or invite a friend along? Sometimes a new perspective or a change in routine is all we need to stay committed to our goals. 

How do you stay motivated when it comes to your health goals?

P.S. My Top 4 Healthy Lifestyle Intentions

28 Things To Do When You’re Sick of Scrolling

Boredom be gone! Sometimes it can be difficult to snap yourself out of the never ending loop of scrolling. You want to do something else. But what? Commence the shame and guilt spiral….and then? You continue scrolling. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

As a decision averse Enneagram 9, I love having game plans in place. My goal with any game plan is to take one layer of thought out of any decision. With that in mind, here’s a game plan I created for us all when we’re feeling sick of scrolling! Find yourself feeling icky because you can’t break the never-ending cycle of your social media feeds? Turn to this list for an easy alternative. Want an extra incentive to stop the scroll? Why not treat yourself once you’ve managed to check off all 28 items! Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat! 🙂

Want the printable PDF version of this checklist? CLICK HERE. 

What fun non-scroll activities did I forget? Leave your ideas in the comments below! 

P.S. Fun ways to improve your vocabulary.

Positive Practices for Mental Health Based on Your Enneagram Type | Types 7, 8, and 9

If you’ve been following along in this series (first post HERE), I’ve been really into reading about the ENNEAGRAM lately. This has brought about a desire to use the knowledge I’ve gained about my type to help me get through all the ways this crazy world we’re living in is bringing about anxiety/stress. What I’ve found has been wildly helpful!

Again, if you’re totally new to the enneagram, I would encourage you to check out some of the great resources available online about the types and how to type yourself.  I’d also recommend checking out Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).

If you too have been obsessing about all things enneagram as of late, consider identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting a few positive life-practices to help you combat them.

To help, I’ve listed some examples below based on my readings of each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just a jumping-off point. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. They are simply meant to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices!

Today let’s talk about TYPES SEVEN, EIGHT, & NINE —

Enneagram Type Seven:

Positive Practice #1 – As different impulses and desires pop into your head, write them in a journal.

Get in the habit of recognizing your impulses by taking the time to jot them down in a journal. Instead of acting immediately upon each of your desires, this will give you the chance to reflect and evaluate whether it is something that will truly bring you happiness. Learning which impulses are worth acting on will take time, but the fun thing about having a written record of them is that you’ll be able to notice trends. Are you more likely to crave a certain thing when you’re upset? Are you procrastinating? Finding these trends can help you sort out what’s really good for you and what’s a distraction.

Positive Practice #2 – Reserve some time each week to “single task” or to do something you enjoy without external stimulation. 

Sevens can sometimes mask their anxieties by surrounding themselves with people. If no people are available, they might pop on the television or turn the music way up. But welcoming some silence, or at least some alone time, will help a seven to trust themselves and their feelings. To make this easier, schedule something that you truly love doing so you won’t mind doing it by yourself. And if possible, leave the TV set off and the headphones at home.

Positive Practice #3 – Set long-term visions and then work backwards to turn them into a plan.

A seven may go after a goal full speed ahead without thinking about the long-term consequences. To mitigate against possible disappointments or unhappiness, sevens may need to take a different approach when it comes to goal setting. You’re very good at going after things and getting what you want — and that’s a good thing! But what you achieved may not be what you want forever. So when goal-setting, cast a vision for your future. What do you want your life to look like in five, ten, twenty years — we’re talking the whole picture here. Now work in reverse to develop the plan that will help you achieve that vision.

Enneagram Type Eight:

Positive Practice #1 – Practice letting others take the lead when in low stakes situations.

Here’s the deal — eights love taking control of a situation and exerting their power. However, if you want true loyalty and security from the people around you, it means showing them you don’t always have to be at the front of the pack. Identify areas of your life or decisions that you feel are low stakes enough that you’re happy to be a follower instead of a leader. This will be different for everyone, but will go a long way in securing trust from others.

Positive Practice #2 – Say yes to opportunities that allow you to inspire and uplift other people. 

While eights are self-reliant and independent, they feel most powerful when they’re able to energize and encourage other people. Even better if they’re able to help others through a crisis. Eights can be “yes people” so it can be helpful for you to filter through requests by asking yourself if this opportunity will allow you to motivate, encourage, and inspire. If so, go for it!

Positive Practice #3 – Find ways to include others in your successes and celebrate them. 

Again, because you’re independent and have a perception of yourself as the leader of the pack, you may not take time to recognize the people that have helped you when you achieve something great. But as we all know, it’s lonely at the top. You’ll enjoy yourself so much more in the happy times if you make a point to recognize the contributions of others and include them in celebrations. Think: going out to dinner with the whole team when you snag that big deal.

Enneagram Type Nine:

Positive Practice #1 – Get in the habit of making decisions or forming opinions on your own so you can stick to them when you’re with others. 

Nines have a tendency to go along with the group majority. They love to keep the peace and make sure everyone is getting along, so why rock the boat? However, a true relationship means showing up as yourself — even if you disagree on something. Because your instinct is to follow the crowd, take some time before you’re in said crowd to sit with yourself and form your own opinions. This way when someone asks what restaurant you want to eat at, you won’t have to respond with, “Whatever everybody else decides is fine!”

Positive Practice #2 – Send follow-ups after big group conversations to encourage yourself to stay focused. 

Because nines are in the habit of not exerting themselves socially, they can sometimes tune other people out, disengage, and start to day dream. To stay focused as an active participant, set a challenge for yourself that you have to send at least one follow-up after a group social engagement pertaining to the conversations that were had. Something as simple as “You mentioned xyz the other night so I thought you might enjoy this article on abc” is not difficult to do, but setting this goal will help you pay closer attention when in big groups.

Positive Practice #3 – Schedule regular cardio and strength sessions. 

Exercise can help you play out emotions you might be suppressing. For nines, that emotion is often anger. What better way to get out aggression in a healthy way than by strapping on sneakers to pound the pavement or lifting heavy dumbbells? Regular exercise can also help a nine with body awareness, concentration, and self-discipline.

P.S. Enneagram Types 1 – 3, right this way! Are you an Enneagram Type 4 – 6? Check out this post.

Positive Practices for Mental Health Based on Your Enneagram Type | Types 4, 5, and 6

As I mentioned in the first post in this series (HERE), I’ve been really into reading about the ENNEAGRAM lately. This has brought about a desire to use the knowledge I’ve gained about my type to help me get through all the ways this crazy world we’re living in is bringing about anxiety/stress. What I’ve found has been wildly helpful!

Again, if you’re totally new to the enneagram, I would encourage you to check out some of the great resources available online about the types and how to type yourself.  I’d also recommend checking out Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).

If the enneagram is old hat to you, consider identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting a few positive life-practices to help you combat them.

To help, I’ve come up with a few examples based on my readings about each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just ideas. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. They are simply meant to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices based on your type!

Today let’s talk about TYPES FOUR, FIVE, & SIX —

Enneagram Type Four:

Positive Practice #1 – Set working hours and stick to them. (Sleep schedule and exercising regularly are of equal importance.)

Fours often find these two things to be true — 1) they prefer to do things when they’re “in the mood” and 2) they are actually happiest when they’re working (ie. realizing their full potential). This leads to a rather classic self-sabotage — not being “in the mood” to work but then being unhappy because of not working. You won’t find that full potential, or happiness, just waiting around for inspiration to strike. (And while you’re at it, set a sleep and exercise schedule too. Self-discipline works well for a four, who values individuality and freedom, because THEY are making the rules. Use this to your advantage!)

Positive Practice #2 – Small actions will eventually snowball — break your to-do list down accordingly.

You are very in tune with your feelings and view most things through the lens of how they make you feel. Getting things done or helping a loved one creates enormous reactions and emotions from a four. But in the same way, a really big task will create a huge sense of overwhelm and thus, inaction. When looking at tasks that aren’t broken down into smaller chunks, you might get the sense that you don’t have your life together and you never will. But starting small and working through things step by step allow you to feel productive and good.

Positive Practice #3 – Get in the practice of cutting off the “rehearsals” in your head.

As a four you have a very active imagination! This is super helpful to so many things and a huge part of what makes you YOU. But it can start to be harmful when you let the conversations in your imagination run wild — especially if those conversations are excessively negative. You start thinking about what you would say to someone, how you could hurt them, or who is talking about you behind your back and what they’re saying. When you notice this is happening is there something that can help pull you back into reality?

Enneagram Type Five:

Positive Practice #1 – Adopt both a breath practice (meditation or yoga) and movement practice (jogging, dancing, etc).

Fives can be really intense and a little bit high-strung. You might find it difficult to relax because you have so much nervous energy pent up inside of you. Exercise that’s more cardio focused, like running or dancing, can help you chill out in a healthy way. A movement practice gives all that energy a place to go. You might even find that daily exercise is key to achieving the chill time you need. But balancing a regular fast-paced workout with an occasional focus on breath, even if it’s just 2 minutes of meditation to start your morning, can be super grounding for fives.

Positive Practice #2 – Invest time into one or two intimate friendships and seek their advice and counsel regularly.

Schedule get-togethers with your close friendships on a routine basis so that you’re more likely to follow up. As a five, you might prefer isolation. Especially if you sense the possibility of conflict. Because fives are careful about who they trust and open up to, navigating a ton of surface-level friendships and acquaintances isn’t always worth it to you. So invest your time and energy into just a few and work to build these relationships to a point where you feel comfortable working through the inevitable conflict that could arise. Ask these close friends if you could set up a weekly dinner date with them; get it on the calendar.

Positive Practice #3 – It is easy to get carried away with all your developing interests — set aside time for research and time for action.

Sticking with the scheduling theme, fives might find it helpful to block off time to let their whims run wild. A five loves a rabbit hole and will research new subjects all the time. But this can become a distraction to their day-to-day accomplishments. If, instead, you have set times during your week to explore whatever your heart desires, it can be easier to keep trucking through your to-do list when a great idea hits you. You’ll know that you have plenty of time to look into this new interest at 5 o’clock or whenever your planned research time happens to be.

Enneagram Type Six:

Positive Practice #1 – Channel your anxiety into productivity and creativity.

When sixes are able to reassure themselves that their anxieties are normal, they can be more present within their tensions. Their anxieties can become almost energizing. When anxiety crops up, sixes should turn to their to-do lists and creative pursuits. Have outlets at the ready — like a bin of craft supplies or tools for an ongoing home renovation project. When your brain starts rolling out worst case scenarios, acknowledge them, and then pick up the paintbrush or screwdriver.

Positive Practice #2 – Start a self-love journal where you can write down things you like about yourself and things in your life that make you happy.

Sixes can be extremely pessimistic when they let self-doubt and negative thought patterns take over. As a six, you might project what’s going on in your head on reality. To encourage a positive outlook, begin to identify the positives in your everyday life. Reflecting on the things that are going right in your world will help you start to cast that vision on a wider scale and negate your glass half empty tendencies.

Positive Practice #3 – Be intentional with showing people your appreciation for them.

Think: texting your best friend how much she means to you, sending a card to your mom just because, or taking your kid out to eat one-on-one when they’ve done something you value. Sixes are very skilled at getting people to like them, and because of this (plus, fears of rejection), aren’t always overt or vocal about their feelings and commitments. Challenge yourself to show someone how you feel about them at least once a week.

Ok, enneagram-obsessed loves! I hope this helps you use the information about your type to your advantage. It might take you a while to settle on the practices you want to adopt, and that’s ok! Once you do, I know they’re going to have a positive impact on your life! xoxo

Keep an eye out for the final post in this series where we’ll explore Types 7, 8, and 9! Thanks for reading!!! 

P.S. Are you a Type 1, 2, or 3 and you missed my last enneagram post?? No worries. You can read it HERE! xoxo

Positive Practices for Mental Health Based on Your Enneagram Type | Types 1, 2, and 3

During the last few months of lock-down/quarantine/(whatever you want to call it), I’ve done a lot of reading about the ENNEAGRAM. This isn’t necessarily a new obsession, I’ve been interested in it for the last few years. After working with my mom (who has done enneagram trainings for her job in pastoral care) to type myself as a 9 and reading Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, I’ve been consistently seeking out enneagram content.

But recently, I’ve really been exploring the idea of using the knowledge about myself that the enneagram offers to my advantage. Even though so much of the enneagram involves being faced with the aspects of yourself that aren’t so pretty (hi, I’m a 9…most commonly known for being lazy…yikes), it’s power comes from what you do with that information.

If you don’t know anything about the enneagram, there are a ton of great resources online to learn about the types and type yourself. I’d also recommend checking out Chestnut’s book (linked above) as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).

If you’re already up on this whole enneagram biz (and you love trolling IG for memes about your type LOL), I would totally encourage you to try taking it to the next level by identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting some positive life-practices to help you combat them. Doing so myself has been wildly helpful during an otherwise very stressful and scary time in the world.

To help get you started, I’ve identified some positive practices based on my readings about each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just ideas. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. I just want to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices based on your type!

Let’s start with TYPES ONE, TWO, & THREE — 

Enneagram Type One:

Positive Practice #1 – Take time for yourself to relax without any responsibilities.

Think: a solo afternoon outing, a solo night in, or solo weekend getaway. Ones put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure things go to plan. But it can be stressful to be around other folks who have differing opinions about the right and wrong ways to enjoy whatever adventure or vacation you’ve mapped out in your head. Things will go a lot more to plan if you’re the only one you’re planning for. Give yourself that space every once in a while to relax without feeling like the world depends on you.

Positive Practice #2 – Set reminders that allow you to be patient instead of continuously following up.

Ones have an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong and are extremely self-disciplined. Others might not respond or take action to your requests as quickly as you may like. Because the one is also a great educator, they can view reiterating themselves and trying new approaches as helpful — when in fact this may have the reverse effect and cause the other person to shut down completely. (Which will stress a one out even more!) Instead, channel your love of planning and map out your follow-ups in your calendar.

Positive Practice #3 – Join a group that lets you display and discuss your emotions without fear of judgment.

Think: book club, film club, or any group that allows you to have conversations about the realities of humanity. Because ones are often uneasy with emotions, it can be beneficial to discuss things like how a book or movie made you feel in a group of people who are doing the same. This can help you identify emotions and emotional impulses better in your own life and help you feel more at ease about the messy aspects of being human.

Enneagram Type Two:

Positive Practice #1 – Set up a practice of asking others what they need.

Twos are known as “The Helper” for a reason — you love to help and you’re largely very good at intuiting what people need. That doesn’t mean it is what they want. And if they don’t, that’s not a reflection of you OR a rejection of you. You can and should still lean in to this “helping hand” side of yourself though. When the urge arises, do your best to make this your first step — state your intentions, “I’d like to help,” and then ask, “what can I do?”

Positive Practice #2 – Start a journal to document the “gifts” you receive every day.

Think: Gratitude Journal. Twos tend to place value on how what they’re giving is perceived, instead of looking to what they are receiving. You might not even recognize something as a “gift” because it is not something you would give or you wouldn’t give it in the same way. The more you can start noticing all that you are receiving in your life (by jotting it down in your journal), the better you will become at recognizing all the love in your world.

Positive Practice #3 – Invest your time in a service opportunity that is just for you.

This is something that is just for you — not something you know will garner public recognition or a lot of “likes” on your social media feeds. Think about your own interests and how you can give back within those worlds. Maybe you enjoy being around kittens so you sign up to foster or volunteer at a local animal shelter. The more you find fulfillment in something BEYOND just a general sense of helping, the more likely a two will resist the urge to call attention to themselves and their good deeds.

Enneagram Type Three:

Positive Practice #1 – Make time for one-on-one interactions with your loved ones.

Threes need to feel truthfulness, loyalty, and cooperation in their relationships. However, they are also fantastic multi-taskers who are always GO GO GO. Because of this, you might turn to big group outings or group vacations with your friends and loved ones to knock out that quality time all in one go. Resist this urge. Instead, slow down and really connect with the folks you care about without a bunch of other people and distractions around.

Positive Practice #2 – Schedule breaks throughout your day.

You are susceptible to burn-out and exhaustion because of a singular focus on your goals. Threes are super ambitious and value self-development — great qualities! But they also need to take breaks if they want to reach their full potential. Make sure you’re setting aside time during your day to step away from work and your personal to-do list — try the pomodoro approach or just set a few alarms in your phone to signal when you’re going to take a ten minute breather.

Positive Practice #3 – Get involved with a group project that has nothing to do with career advancement.

Again, threes are highly skilled multi-taskers so they might sign up for their office’s kickball league and think, “Cool, this will help my likability standings at work PLUS knock out a workout and be my weekly socialization time,” only to find they’re miserable every Thursday during the matches because they actually HATE kickball (and their co-workers who joined the team). If you’re going to focus so much of your energy on career, you should look for some outlets that are outside of work (and build relationships with people who have nothing to do with your next promotion) where you can take a little pressure off of that side of yourself.

Ok, enneagram-obsessed loves! I hope this helps you use the information about your type to your advantage. It might take you a while to settle on the practices you want to adopt, and that’s ok! Once you do, I know they’re going to have a positive impact on your life! xoxo

Keep an eye out for follow-up posts with ideas for the rest of the types! Thanks for reading!!! 

Feeling Trapped? Fighting “Quarantine Stress” in 4 Simple Steps

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

The last few months have not been the easiest for anybody, and have brought on many challenges we did not expect to face. As a result, I’m sure we’ve all felt down and anxious at least once while in quarantine. Some are coping with working from home, while others have to manage the many responsibilities that come with school and entertainment options temporarily closed. Many have had to face these self-isolating months completely alone – something that might have taken a toll on their mental and physical well-being. Call it the dreaded quarantine stress, if you will. Here are some ways I have found useful to cope — 

Mindful Exercise

Staying fit and healthy while confined within four walls can be a challenge for many. However, moving, staying active, and exercising can have incredible benefits on our mental well-being – benefits that you should not be ignored! Maybe HIIT training and running for miles aren’t your thing, but other practices – such as yoga and meditation – can help you understand yourself better and fight stress. 

All this, while also toning your muscles and tuning your mind! While doing your make up and putting on your corporate dress might not be part of your routine anymore, starting your day with a Power Yoga session can be just as beneficial to boost your self-confidence!

Take Up a New Challenge

Boredom – especially when combined with feelings of anxiety – can be extremely detrimental. Keeping your mind busy and giving yourself a goal to work toward can be an easy solution to implement. Several challenges can work, but the one you pick should fit your preferences. Whether this is minimalism, vegetarianism, or working toward a zero-waste lifestyle, a challenge can help you focus your mind and energy toward a positive goal. 

Turn Your Home into a Sanctuary

Of course, you might have started to feel a little trapped within your four walls. However, instead, start thinking of your home as a safe place where you can retreat in turbulent times. Start by turning your garden, patio, or terrace in to a space for enjoying the sunshine during the day and get all that Vitamin D you need during this time. 

Indoors, add plants and swap the heavy curtains for a lighter version. These two simple additions can help you let in enough natural light and fresh air to create a much happier environment. Some companies, such as Kaya Hemp Company, create ethically-produced products that can help you craft a comfortable and healthy sanctuary all for yourself.

Build Relationships (Virtually!)

If you have had to face the quarantine alone, you might have struggled to find enough support from others. However, technology is on our side. Don’t skip a call with your loved ones or a catch up over the phone with your friends. Even just a quick chat can lift your mood and help you see things differently. Moreover, many people now have more free time to fill so you can deepen the relationships you treasure and rebuild the ones that you haven’t had time to cultivate before the restrictions.

I hope you found this useful, and maybe even a little reassuring? Have you created ways of combating quarantine stress? Share your tips in the comments! xoxo

P.S. Follow Kaya Hemp Company on Instagram HERE.

Reading Books Picked by a Librarian! (4 mini book reviews)

While my local library is reopening it’s doors tomorrow, during it’s closure they kicked off a service that I was all too game to try. Grab bags! That’s right, you could roll up to the parking lot for drive-by pickup and be handed a librarian-curated assortment of books. While there were several selections I simply returned with out reading, these are the four I decided to tackle. (Truth be told, I’ve been buying books a LOT more regularly in quarantine so I was not hurting for things to read when I got my grab bag. Had I been practicing any sort of book buying restraint I probably would have read ALL my librarians picks!) Let’s see how that librarian did, shall we?!

The four books I chose to read were —
The Lido by Libby Page – a feel-good contemporary fiction set in London
Solo by Kwame Alexander – a young adult contemporary written in verse
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – an alternate history young adult fantasy
The Death of Mrs. Westaway – a mystery thriller with a creepy setting

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review: 

I love books (especially mystery-thrillers) where the setting almost becomes a character itself and Ware definitely creates that here. To meet her new “family” and work out the details of the inheritance Hal finds herself lodging at Trepassen, an aging English manor that holds many secrets. Much of the plot unfolds within it’s gothic, creepy walls.

Read if you like the movie: Knives Out, or any movie with a closed circle mystery

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

If you think The Hunger Games meets The Man in the High Castle sounds like something that’d be up your street, this book is for you. It certainly was for ME. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2 of this duology.

Read if you liked the movie: The Hunger Games, or any fantasy/sci-fi film featuring a dark game

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Synopsis: Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father. In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

This was a really fun and quick read! Because it is written in verse the pages fly by. Our main character Blade is the son of super famous rockstar Rutherford Morrison. Blade is 17 going on 18 and grappling with first love, family dynamics, confusion about what to do with his life — all under the watchful eye of the paparazzi. Then, he receives some news that has him embarking on a journey that will forever change his life.

Read if you liked the movie: Lion, or any movie with an important familial quest

The Lido by Libby Page

Synopsis: Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

A really cute, feel-good book. The moral of the story is basically like “finding community and being around people to socialize and exercise is awesome for mental health” and now is just a weird time to be faced with that. My rating probably has more to do with being bummed about pools being closed this summer and less to do with the quality of the read.

Read if you liked the movie: A Man Called Ove, or any feel-good found family film

***

Overall, I’d say my librarian knocked it out of the park with these selections! While The Lido and The Death of Mrs. Westaway were books on my radar, I don’t think I would have picked them up myself without a little nudging. Wolf by Wolf I’d never even heard of and it earned a 5-star rating! It’s seriously such a well done dark games YA and I will shove it into the hands of anyone who enjoys that genre. And Solo was another I was happy to learn about and won’t soon forget. Nothing new here but it bears repeating — I LOVE LIBRARIES!

My next bookish post hitting the blog soon will be my SUMMER TBR. See you then! 

P.S. More library love. 

Mindfulness: Not just for monks and yogis!

We’re all wondering if quarantine will ever end, but until it does, we have some prime time to get to know ourselves.

When someone says mindfulness, what do you think of? Do you think of monks in a temple wearing robes in silence, or people sitting in full lotus position meditating for hours on end? It would be understandable if you did. 

However, mindfulness isn’t just for ancient religious practice, it’s also a secular therapeutic method designed to settle our thoughts and reduce everyday stress and anxiety so that we can better focus. Regardless of what you’re into, jogging, debating, or being a lifestyle blogger; mindfulness can help support you and improve your potential. Think of it this way – driving a car is much easier once you’ve had a few lessons. Before that it’s almost impossible. 

But on the road of life, the vehicle you’re driving is not a car – it’s yourself, and mindfulness is the way you learn how to skillfully read the signs of the road and perform tricky maneuvers. So how does it work? Your mindfulness practice can begin as you read this blog post. You’re reading the words and you’re thinking about what they mean. So you’re doing two things. Bringing awareness to these two things is mindfulness. You are aware of what you’re doing. 

Another way to practice is to bring awareness to your breath. You are slowly breathing in and out. The very fact of that is amazing, but your awareness of it? That’s mindfulness. 

Here are a few more ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life…

Walk in nature 

Take some time to visit  nature near where you live. Try out some mindful walking, that is, bring awareness to each step you take. Find a rhythm that suits you, then turn your awareness to other things. What sounds can you hear that you might have missed if you were lost in thought?  Impressions you encounter in a mindful state are more likely to resonate with you and others. 

Apply it to a craft 

If you already do a craft like knitting, model making, or paper folding then you probably use mindfulness all the time without realizing it. It’s that controlled awareness you bring to your subject. If you don’t do a craft then taking one up can be a great mindfulness practice. Not to mention, you can always feel satisfied with achieving an end product – something you have made yourself. But now you know that the process to achieving that final product is just as rewarding.

Use it in conversations 

Mindfulness is very effective in conversations with people, because mindfulness doesn’t only mean being mindful of yourself. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, why not reflect on what has been said already – then respond. Bringing awareness to your conversations is a wonderful way to improve your interactions, and relationships, in a fun, creative way. 

When do YOU practice mindfulness? Do you find it difficult or rewarding?

P.S. Hobbies to try if you’re a creative soul.

10 Things To Do When You’re Stuck At Home: Summer Edition!

Last month, I presented you with 10 Things To Do When You’re Stuck At Home.

Today, I thought I’d share 10 more in case you, like me, plan on keeping it a bit more close to home this summer than you normally do. These are some activities for a SUMMER STAYCATION, if you will! Ready? Let’s go —

Make a playlist and have an outdoor dance party.

Half the fun of this activity is sitting down to curate a list of songs you KNOW will get you moving and grooving. The other half is actually heading outside, blasting your tunes as loud as you believe your neighbors will tolerate, and getting your groove on. Get the whole household involved! And if you’re a household of one, that’s ok too. (Note: This activity was totally inspired by this video. So feel free to just jam to this if you want to make your dance party more of a workout!)

Get creative with outdoor soakin’ and splashin’ options.

Public pools might be out of the picture for you this summer. If that’s the case, and you don’t live near any other bodies of water, you might have to get creative! Check out some inflatable pool options on Amazon, go the galvanized stock tank route, or just set up a sprinkler or two.

Pay up for a print subscription.

It’s so easy to stay glued to your devices when you’re home all the time. Why not spring for a print subscription of a newspaper or magazine to encourage yourself to read the news OFFLINE for a change? One of my favorite budget activities from summer’s past was when my friend Katie and I were living together, we would take a copy of the USA Today outside to our backyard to sit in the sun, leaf through the pages, and do the crossword puzzle.

Grab your camera (or smart phone) and have a photo shoot.

Scrolling through pictures of myself over the years, most of them were taken at some sort of an event. A wedding, meeting up with friends for a weekend, a party. With so many events cancelled over the last few months, it’s like there’s a weird gap in these tangible memory-keepers. So corral a housemate or friend and take turns acting as photographer as the other models.

Decorate your outdoor space.

Nothing will encourage you to spend as much time outside as possible as a beautiful outdoor space. Start by picking what space you want to spruce up and then create a mood board. (Here’s one I did for our balcony when we lived in Miami.) Then start sourcing materials and get to creating a wonderful space!

Continue supporting your favorite creators.

I don’t know about you but there have definitely been some choice creators (ie. authors, youtubers, instagrammers, etc) who have gotten me through the last few months. If they’ll continue seeing you through summer, consider finding some additional ways to support them! Share their content with others, buy their merch, post reviews for their books on Amazon…etc, etc. If you’ve been consuming a lot of their free content, do they have any paid options you would also enjoy?

Create a piece of artwork to hang on your walls.

You know that ICONIC post on @BritneySpears where Britney’s painting in her yard with her two kids and they all have little canvases on little easels? THAT COULD BE YOU! Or, you know, you could save arts & crafts as a rainy day activity to do indoors. You do you. I’m just saying…creating visual art of any kind is going to be a fun endeavor for your summer.

Watch Saturday morning cartoons with your favorite childhood breakfast.

This could even become a weekly occurrence! And it doesn’t have to happen on Saturday mornings either. If you want to watch cartoons every Thursday at 4:30 pm with a bowl of nostalgia and milk, be my guest. Maybe you even change into your pj’s. Maybe you squeeze some oranges into juice or bring all your blankets out to the couch and make a fort. Maybe you swap out cartoons for middle grade fiction or prefer childhood lunch foods to breakfast. It’s your life!

Do a book swap with a friend.

Are you a bookworm with a ton of books on your shelves? Do you have a friend in the same boat? Spend some time on the phone with them getting a sense of their favorite reads, how many books you want to swap with each other, and then head to your shelves for books you’d like to pass along to them that you think would be in their wheelhouse. Drop your selections off on their porch with a note on why you made your picks!

Pick an actor and binge your way through their filmography.

Some fun ones to try —
Lupita Nyong’o
Reese Witherspoon
Jim Carrey
Julianne Moore
Dev Patel
Anne Hathaway
Gael Garcia Bernal
Denzel Washington

Have you done any of these things yet? What other ideas would you add for folks who are planning on keeping it a bit closer to home than usual this summer? xoxo

5 Ways To Remember Someone You Love

When a loved one tragically passes away, it can feel like the end of the world for those left behind. Dealing with loss isn’t a discussion often had, and it’s not a topic that many people feel confident in talking about. But it is a hugely important for those going through it, and one which everyone will experience within their lifetime. The experience can be lonely, and it’s usually made even worse by the fact that a lot of people simply don’t know how to start a dialogue with someone who has been bereaved, and will even go to the lengths of avoiding them out of awkwardness. Of course, this only serves to make the person grieving feel more isolated, exactly when they need the most support. 

This difficult, but often undiscussed, situation can be doubly tough if you don’t have the tools to work through grief. Mourning for someone is definitely a process – and one that no-one can put a time limit on. People who have lost a loved one often talk about it in terms of learning to live with the pain, rather than it being something that goes away. And I agree.

There are of course steps you can take to help you process your negative emotions and work through what you feel, and it can be helpful as you do so to find ways of remembering the person you have loved and lost. 

Being able to create memories can be a hugely important part of the mourning process, so consider what you could do once you feel ready to express yourself. When the focus of arranging a funeral is over, and you feel ready, creating a lasting memorial can be helpful. It gives you a tangible connection to the person you have lost, and provides a way of feeling close to those we can no longer see or speak to.

Create A Memorial Seat

If there’s a special view, a place in nature or a walk you used to take together, dedicating a memorial bench is a lovely way to remember someone you loved. It draws on a base of shared memories and provides a location you can go to when you need to remember that person. Your bench can feature a plaque or carving with an inscription, naming or commemorating that person, sharing a memory or containing a special piece of verse, a passage from a book they loved or song lyrics that remind you of them. 

Cherish A Piece Of Clothing

In life, our clothes are a tool of self-expression. If your loved one had a favorite garment – perhaps a treasured dress or an old sweater – there are ways to use this piece of clothing to provide a lasting link to them after their passing. You can even have a memory bear made using fabric stitched together from a patchwork of their favorite items. This simple but effective idea is especially lovely to help children who have lost someone dear. They can cuddle with the bear and remember the person they loved so much in life. The same principle could also apply to anything soft and squidgy really – from a cushion to a quilt. Equally, a much-loved item of clothing can be preserved and framed.

Create A Memory Box

If you have lots of treasured artifacts from your time with that person, you could consider creating a memory box. In it, you can place all sorts of things – letters and cards you exchanged, old photographs, memorabilia like concert tickets and small souvenirs, pressed flowers and other little tokens. This approach is especially lovely because there is always something new to rediscover or a different memory to recall depending on what you pull out of the box. 

Get A Piece Of Jewelry Made

If you feel like carrying your loved one close to you, memorializing them with a piece of jewelry is a great way to hold them close with something portable that you can carry around wherever you go. Sites like Memorials.com can even help you to incorporate the ashes of a family member into an elegant piece of jewelry that you can wear and love forever, and pass down through generations. 

Plant Something Green 

A connection to the living world is a huge source of comfort for many, so it can be a really nice idea to plant a tree or a shrub in memory of a lost loved one. This gives a beautiful connection to the world as well as a place you can go to enjoy some quiet time and remember that person. 

Have you honored a lost loved one in a way you found to be especially helpful to your grieving process? If you’re comfortable, I’d love to hear about it below. Sending all my love to anyone hurting or mourning a loss. xoxo