March Round Up

March Round Up

March came and went as quickly as a sneeze! The year is flying by! It’s been an unusual month for me in ways; the weather has been a bit mental, and I managed to complete a goal I had set for myself that I genuinely feel has had such a positive impact on my life – scroll down to my March Goal Recap at the end of this post to see how the steps I’ve taken to reduce my screen time have changed my perspective on life!

I’ve also started back running again and I’m feeling just that little bit more positive about life in general lately – and I really do feel that my attitude towards my phone and the mindfulness book have had a huge role to play in this!

I hope you enjoy catching up on my month – I know that I am writing less on the blog but it’s not something I can apologise for. I’m really determined to not live my life through a screen anymore and just enjoy the real world instead of being consumed by it’s digital counterpart.


March Reads

Self Development

I have been continuing with Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world.  I have also been reading The Happy Medium by Annemarie O’ Connor – a book that appears to be all about lessening our dependence on technology and becoming happier by doing the things that bring us the most joy. I’m taking my time with this book as there are many activities in it that I think are worth dedicating my time to.

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Fiction

This month I’ve read:

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Image result for the child sebastian fitzek

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Image result for almost love louise o neill

This months challenge was to read 5 or 6 books – and I’ve successfully done that! Can I get a Whoop Whoop!!

Favourite Read

My favourite read was most definitely The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It was a very unusual read – for something that was written about something so horrific, there was a lot of hope. The book is based on events that took place in Lale Sokolov’s life, about his experiences in Auschwitz and how he not only saved the lives of others, but held out hope for his own, as well as finding love. It’s cold, it’s cruel, it’s real; but it also has an uplifting tone that inspired me to keep my head up and look for the silver linings in life.

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Favourite Song:

I’ve had a few songs stuck in my head this month, but the one that I’m going to choose today for my song of the month is Next To Me by Imagine Dragons. I think this song is beautiful and encapsulates the concept of unconditional love for me… I hope you enjoy it!

Favourite Irish/Homegrown Song:

Cavalier by James Vincent McMorrow. A friend and I had a debate about what we think this song means and we’ve both got completely different ideas about it! Regardless, it’s a lovely song!

Favourite Album

An album that I’ve listened to a lot this month is Harry Styles’ album. There’s something very beautiful about his voice that I just love!

Favourite Beauty Product

Clarins Skin Detox Fluid BB Cream. This product has such amazing coverage – one little pump (which is pea sized) will cover your face and neck and lasts all day. It’s an excellent alternative to foundation and it’s relatively cheap at €34.

 

BB Skin Detox Fluid SPF 25

 

Favourite Movie

It hasn’t been a movie watching month I’m afraid…

Favourite Programme

The best show that I’ve watching this month is without a doubt Seven Seconds on Netflix. It is an excellent show that everyone needs to watch, exposing the reality of the racial injustices that exist within America (aka the land of the free) today.

Something I’m Happy About

I’m off to West Cork tomorrow with a friend and I cannot wait for the stillness, the solitude, and of course, the copious amounts of Gin that I will be consuming! (For those of you who enjoy gin, can I recommend trying out Gordon’s Pink Gin and mix it with Elderflower Tonic…. pure bliss in a glass!)


March Goals Recap

March Goals

Read 5 or 6 books: Goal achieved and I am delighted to have succeeded with this one!

Become smarter/ more mindful with my phone usage: This was a goal that I thought was a huge aspiration. I have slept with my phone in my room since I was 15 and at almost 30 years of age, I’m fed up of being so reliant on my phone.

Step one for me during this process was buying an alarm clock for my room. Instead of getting any old alarm clock, I decided to get a Hotweild Light Alarm Clock. This alarm clock wakes you up with a gradual light as opposed to sound, and it is something that I have found really aids my mood in the mornings.

My second step was to download an app called Moment from the app store. This app tracks how much time you’re on your phone, as well as reporting back and telling you what apps you’re spending the majority of your time on. It didn’t take me long before I upgraded to premium with this app. Premium enables features that include a bootcamp course that sets you little tasks each day that will help you to become more aware of your phone usage and ultimately reduce your screen time. It also has a feature that allows you to set a maximum screen time on your phone, and once you reach that limit you can set a tone that will go off, or you can even go to the extreme length of having your phone automatically turn itself off when the limit is hit.  It only cost me €5 for premium and I would highly recommend people giving this app a go if they’re considering reducing their dependence on screen time.

My third step was to simply leave the phone outside of my room at night time, which I started doing shortly before the midpoint of the month – and I haven’t looked back since!

Overall, I’m using my phone much less. I’m also using my laptop less, and this blog less. I feel like my FOMO is practically gone. My interest in social media has completely diminished. I’m sleeping better at night and I’m generally feeling happier. I no longer scroll through Snapchat and Instagram and compare my life to what I see on the screen – I simply live my life. My mindfulness and my awareness have increased hugely. I honestly think that this is possibly the best and biggest change I have made in my life in the last year and it is something I would highly recommend to you all…

Meditate Every Day: This is something that started off well but has faded in the last week as I’ve been off work for the Easter Holidays. I did get back on it this morning though and did a 10 minute gratitude meditation which set me up very nicely for the day ahead.

Stay on Track with Slimming World: I tend to fall on and off of this bandwagon very easily. I had two weeks that were completely off track and I gained 3.5lbs. I’m back on plan now though, and know that I will be off plan for the next few days as I’m away in West Cork but I really don’t mind that – I need to live my life too!


I hope you are all having a lovely Easter!

With love,

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Ted Talk Thursday | My Philosophy for a Happy Life

Sam Berns gave this Ted talk in October 2013, shortly before he passed away in January of 2014.

I saw this talk many years ago and was totally in awe by this kid. His attitude in face of illness is truly inspirational. He outlines three aspects of his life philosophy and it is so pure, sweet and simple and is something that we all need to take on board.

Sam’s talk encourages me to live life to the full and focus on the positive things in my life. It also inspires me to take notice of the good people in my life – even today I got caught up in the not-so-good; the people that give my inner critic plenty of food for thought and encourage it to start a long, painful attack – but really, I should be giving my energy to the people that are positive and that make me feel good. Instead of beating ourselves up over our inabilities, or our disabilities, we need to focus on our abilities… because we have an abundance of those and need to nurture and cherish them. Overall, he encourages me to stay true to myself and to not sweat the small stuff.

The talk will take 13mins out of your day – and I promise you it is worth giving this time to Sam.

 

5 Lessons I’ve Learned From Having Younger Brothers

I have two big little brothers. To put that in more comprehensible terms, I have two younger brothers that are huge, tall, rugby-build type of lads. I have gone from being the taller, older sibling (which didn’t last too long) to being the smaller, older sibling. They’ve both shot up and turned into two handsome, caring, and hilarious men; two men that I am immensely proud to call my little brothers.

We went out last night to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and there was a moment when  was feeling really anxious about something (you’ll read all about it later on in the post) and having the two of them by my side last night inspired this post. I think I had an aha-moment last night when this happened; we’re stuck together, and not just because we have to be… so here are my five lessons I’ve learned from having younger brothers:


#1 Family are some of the best friends you’ll ever ask for
When I was younger, I was forced to play with my brothers. I had to join in with the Lego, let them win at board games, and watch their choice of movie in case of a tantrum. I felt like the odd one out at times because they were both boys and bonded over things that I just didn’t understand. They taught me that it is ok to not have everything in common with your friends, how to negotiate and compromise, and that it can be healthy to disagree over things. They’ve taught me how to repair a relationship post-argument, and what unconditional love is. They’ve taught me that no matter what happens in life, that your family will always be there for you. 

#2 I will always have people to take care of me
Last night, we were out and something happened.  I saw an ex of mine, someone who absolutely messed with my head, was very controlling, and as a result reduced me to a shell of the person I was. I caught his eye and my stomach dropped. I turned and walked towards the door, I needed to get out of there straight away. My brother’s friend followed me and brought me to the bar where we had a drink and I explained the situation. He convinced me to stay and, within minutes, both of my brothers came over to me to reassure me that they were there for me and that if anything happened they’d be right by my side. Even though I was terrified, I was able to stand back and take in the absolutely fantastic fact that I have two younger brothers who will always have my back. It made me feel so grateful to have two built-in-bodyguards in my life. I knew there and then that I will never have to face anything in life alone, and that, despite how we might all wreck each other’s heads occasionally, we will always be there for one another no matter what. 

#3 Not to take life too seriously
The other day I came home from a tough day at work. Needless to say, after the stress of the day I wasn’t in the best mood. My younger brother came home and was in the happiest mood ever. I felt so jealous. I looked at him and asked him why was he always so happy, his reply: “We’re gna die some day so why waste time being unhappy?” and I just felt so struck by his answer. He went on to explain that he wasn’t expecting to be treated to a luxurious toffee yoghurt (I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or whether he was justifying taking one of the new yoghurts I had bought) and that it’s the little things like that that we need to be focusing on. He literally has a grasp on the mindset that I’m working so incredibly hard to have. 

Whenever we have family get-togethers, and whenever I’m out with my brothers, people always comment on how funny they both are. I used to take this as a little insult; my inner critic jumping at the opportunity to find the negative in the situation – you’re not as funny as them, you’ll never be as liked as they are in a social setting… but now, I’m able to look at it for what it is; we are simply wired differently and have different energies. They are two of the quick-witted, funniest,people I know and they can make you laugh until the tears stream down your face. They’ve made me laugh during days when I felt completely down and lost. They’ve helped me to see that we need to embrace the fun and the joy that comes our way.

#4 No matter how big or small we are, we all slip back into the roles of big sister, younger brother.
Despite the fact that they are towering over me, I’m still their big sister. And despite the fact that the youngest of us is the tallest, he can still be an annoying little pain in the ass. They still come to me for advice, and they still mock me and hit me needlessly – for the craic I assume – and I’m always there to help them clean up their messes when they need me to. There’s something amazing about being a big sister. Words don’t really manage to capture the whole situation to be honest… 

#5 They will always be there to give 100% honesty
There’s honesty between friends, and then there’s honesty between family. They’re guaranteed to tell you when your clothes are a bit dodgy, or when you went a bit heavy handed with my foundation. They’ll tell me when they think I need to get my act together, and when I need to get out of something that’s not good for me. They tell me when I’m falling into the role of being “the serious one” and when I need to lighten up. Regardless of the situation, I’m guaranteed to get their feedback on it, despite whether I want to hear it or not! But there’s a certain beauty that comes with that type of honesty – we don’t wrap each other in bubble wrap, it’s pure unadulterated honesty when you need it the most, and something that I really value, even when I’m not liking what I’m hearing. 


With love,

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Ted Talk Thursday | Lessons From The Longest Study on Happiness

This talk discusses a research project that followed a set of subjects throughout their entire adult lives.

The lessons in this are so simple yet so important – relationships, and closeness. Nurturing good relationships is essential in one’s life. We need others, regardless of any “I don’t need you” attitudes, the fact of the matter is that our relationships have a very important impact on our happiness levels.

The talk below is a love little watch, only 12 minutes long. Take a look and have a think about how you might consider replacing your screen time with people time, how you might nurture the relationships that mean the most to you this coming week.

 

With love,

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Mini Book Review | The Keeper of Lost Things

Book 6: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

the keeper of lost things

#abookfromacelebritybookclub

I found this book a little hard to get into – but I know that it is only because I didn’t choose this book myself; it is our book club read for Jan/Feb. However, when I got into the swing of things, I couldn’t put this down.

This book follows two separate set of characters, one to do with writing, one to do with publishing. It follows two different series of events that eventually intertwine. The story has some really loveable characters, and a plot that will literally give you goosebumps – I can’t count the amount of times that I got the shivers! More than that though, is the character Sunshine who has Downs Syndrome – or “dancing drome” as she calls it. Sunshine is the most intuitive character with a very special set of skills. Although she plays a small part in the story, it really made me think about how we can be very quick to dismiss the opinions or voices of others and not take them seriously. This book made me reconsider that.

I want to give this book to everyone I know! I really loved it!

When The Universe Makes You Stop…

Last week in Ireland, we were graced with Storm Emma. The entire country came to a standstill as we had a snowfall the likes of which we hadn’t seen since 1982. Ireland is well equipped to deal with rain, but not snow. Schools were closed, businesses were closed, and the only things that remained open were a few dedicated shops and pubs.

A lot of people cursed the weather. They couldn’t drive their cars, they couldn’t go to work, and this caused great stress. Understandable I suppose, when you consider that we now live in a society that doesn’t know how to slow down or take a break.

The snow days were days that I welcomed with open arms. I really felt that the Universe was telling me that it had my back and that I had no other choice but to slow down and breathe. It made me reflect on how we have grown accustomed to speed, quickness, and the rush of our daily lives. This has been a topic that I have given a lot of consideration to in the last few months, but these few days really proved to be food for thought.

My mother didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t figure out how to relax and just sit still; instead she decided to clear out all of the kitchen presses and do a spring clean. Another friend of mine got severe cases of cabin fever and found it so hard to just chill out and enjoy the space that the Universe was offering. It was really interesting to see the panic that came over people when they had no other choice but to do nothing.

I for one, relished in it…

The snow, and our inability to drive in it, had some really lovely knock on effects. I went out and built a snowman with my friends, and attempted to build an igloo with my brother. I had a snowball fight with my dad, and played with my dog in the snow – he got so confused when he couldn’t locate the snowballs I was throwing for him to catch, it was adorable!

People were out and walking around. There was a beautiful calmness in the air. We walked to friends’ houses instead of driving; we stopped and said hello to the people we met; parents went outside to play with their kids in the snow; neighbours talked to each other again… it was as if there was a rewind button that the Universe had pressed. I remember being a really young child and being put into my buggy whenever my mom needed to go to the shops, not put into the car. I remember how people stopped to talk to one another, and even how they greeted people that they didn’t know, just saying hi. I remember when people didn’t seem to be hurrying everywhere all of the time. And this was the atmosphere that I felt during the snow days. The world went back to a time where people allowed themselves time to stop and relax, to a time where we didn’t have to constantly be in a rush, to a time where we allowed ourselves to have more fun.

Being at the end of my third week of a mindfulness programme, I really feel that these snow days linked in perfectly with what I am trying to teach myself; that we need to be more mindful of how we exist. Why can we not always allow ourselves to walk instead of drive, to stop and chat instead of muttering a brief hello as we pass people, and to simply have fun with the people we love instead of feeling to tired and burnt out? Why do we let the cult of busyness take over and demand all of our time, attention, and build up our anxiety?  Why can we not go back to a simpler time when people allowed themselves to go at their own pace and be happy with what they had, not striving to achieve more at work, to get more likes on their Instagram posts, or followers on Snapchat?

One of my goals for this month is to become smarter with my phone usage – a difficult task when you’re in a Long Distance Relationship I must admit! However, I’m taking steps to do this – I’ve bought a sunrise alarm clock which I am now using instead of my phone for an alarm, I’m leaving my phone in other rooms when I’m doing things around the house instead of having to have it in my pocket at all times, and I’m noticing small changes in myself already. I am committed to living a more mindful life and not getting consumed in the digital world – the digital world is something that I have been a part of for the last 15 years, half my life to be exact, and whilst it is scary to try to reduce my dependence on my phone and social media, I know that the benefits will far outweigh any negatives.

As I write this I’m considering the fact that I have an online blog… am I contradicting the entire plan by continuing to post on this? I don’t think so… This is an anonymous blog, where I simply allow myself to write and to share my thoughts. This is simply a space to encourage me to continue writing from the heart. I hope you’ll forgive me for this little bit of hypocrisy in my life right now, but this blog is a little lifeline for me!

Can you imagine living a tech free life? When was the last time you felt that you had no choice but to slow down and stop – an unplanned disruption to the pace of your life; do you remember how you felt? Do you resist relaxation? I hope you’ll take the time to join me in considering these questions and try to get a better understanding of how the pace of the 21st century might be affecting our lives.

With love,

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Ted Talk Thursday | Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy by Adam Alter

I’ve been considering my “screen time” a lot of late. I’m aware that when I wake up, my phone is the first thing I reach out for; before I go to sleep, I am texting Himself and my friends. Often when I wake during the night, instead of simply checking the time and going back to sleep, I’ll scroll through Instagram and have a look at peoples stories on Snapchat. We spend so much time on our phones. We literally don’t know when to stop.

A friend and I were talking about this last week and she said that she genuinely feels addicted to her phone, and I can honestly say I am right there with her. She has gone and bought herself a good old fashioned alarm clock, and is leaving her phone in another room at night. I think I’m going to do the same. I am also going to look into any apps that might be around that don’t allow you access social media apps for specific periods of time – do these exist? I’d love to not have a choice in the matter, if that makes sense?!

I’ve permanently deleted my Facebook account because I just started to hate it. I was spending endless amounts of my time scrolling through my news feed seeing things that I genuinely didn’t care about so at first I deactivated it, and when I realised that I was missing out on nothing, I permanently said goodbye. And, for those of you who might be wondering if I’ve had any regrets about that, I haven’t had a single one. In fact, I’m starting to wonder which social media platform will be the next to go…! I’ve a feeling it will be Snapchat because with the latest update, and because I’m so fond of Instagram, I think its next on the hit list!

I came across this Ted Talk last week – it was meant to be last week’s video but in the midst of Storm Emma my laptop was taken over by my dad who had to work from home and I didn’t see it for a few days. I found it really interesting to see statistics about our phone usage. Its kind of no wonder that we are becoming more and more depressed and anxious when we make such little time for the things that matter. Take a look at the video and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

What steps will you take to reduce your screen time?

With love,

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