Nuns And Feta Cheese – Some More Reflections

Though I had vowed to publish a post every day during Christmas break, either something I love that you might also love following in the spirit of “sharing” or as one of Gretchen Rubin’s resolutions that I could also adopt on my own terms, I failed to fully deliver on this promise. It was Rubin’s resolutions that I neglected. Nevertheless, I still have some thoughts to share on these, so you’ll have the pleasure now.

Resolution #1: Have An Idol Ms Rubin’s answer to this challenge was an obsession with some French nun who pretended to be happy to make others happy. While I understand the central idea behind this, having the author write an entire chapter about this put me off Saint Therese (I think that was her name…). It did, however, remind me that I have a nun of my own that I admire. The first I heard of her was during an English lesson on Othello where our teacher tried to challenge our assumptions about time and opinions on women’s roles. I won’t disclose too much, but if you want to learn about her click here.  Still, while it is inspiring to read about her, I see now need to idolize or incorporate her into my daily resolutions. Next!

Resolution #2: Handle Money Wisely Most people have a difficult relationship with money. So do I. But the good thing about reading self-help (or pseudo-self-help books like Gretchen Rubin’s) is that you have obvious realizations about yourself and life in general. I realized that while I do like to have a bit of a safety buffer in my bank account, obsessive saving does not make me happy. I like to spend money on things that I use and that I love. So my new goal is not to save up or spend out, but to spend money on worthy things. So I’ll ask is it worth the money? A top that I’ll wear every week is worth  it. So was my massive winter’s coat that keeps me warm and dry every day or the daylight lamp I bought which considerably lifts my mood every time I use it (and I use it a lot). Other things that I’d definitely say are worth it are the real (and more expensive) feta  cheese made of sheep’s milk instead of the cheap discounter “balkan cheese” and the 6€ bus ticket that takes me to see my family.

Have a lovely day y’all!

B x

Dreams, IDs And Shocks

You know when you have a dream that is so realistic that it takes you a moment to grasp where you are when you wake up? That moment of realization can be incredibly relieving when you’ve had a bad dream and a little disappointing when it was a good dream. I find that what makes a dream realistic is not how akin to life the setting and ‘plot’ are, but how familiar and intense the feelings you feel while dreaming it are.

Now, last night is an ideal example of this. What happened in the dream was not super realistic (lots of water everywhere, but I can’t recall a feeling of wetness… you get the image), but I felt a feeling of panic so acute that waking up came as a positive shock.

The source of this panic brings me to my next topic: I lose things. Everything. While in this particular dream I left my backpack (with all my belongings and valuables – my life was pretty much in that backpack) at the site of a festival and only noticed it on the bus home. In real life, however, this applies to practically everything. I have lost phones, money, and everything you could possibly think of.

Not only am I constantly looking for something, this habit can get really really inconvenient (hence the panicking). When I visited friends in English over new year’s we went out clubbing into the closest town – quite a shabby southern seaside town, the kind of town where clubbing is only fun if you are completely and utterly smashed. A girl like me is now faced with a lot of choices before even leaving the house: What do I wear, what about make-up, do I bring a coat (in December, the answer to this one should always be ‘yes’), do I bring a bag. The last one is particularly challenging for someone who has trouble keeping track of one’s possessions while sober and fully awake. To minimize the risks, I tend to take as little as possible. Annoyingly though, you need your most valuable items on a night out: phone, money, ID.

So, on this particular night out, I did get completely and utterly smashed and had a super fun time out. Trouble started when I woke up in the morning, a bit more sobered up but still ridiculously drunk and completely delirious. That is usually the moment when I turn over, check whether my valuables are on my bedside table and go back to sleep. This time, however, there was no bedside table, there were six people in one tiny room and I could not quite remember how I got into bed in the first place. Usually, this kind of amnesia is quite pleasant, it stops me from remembering actions that I would want to forget anyways, but in this particular situation it was hindering for once.

My panic was increased by the fact that the things I was hoping to find on the non-existent bedside table were vital to the next few days: My phone for communication as I was travelling across to London, and my ID, most importantly, because this was my (only) travelling document and I was due to leave the country the day after. It was, however, not my house and my delirious state of mind did not help my emotional output. There are not enough words to describe the height of the panic that I felt that morning. I pictured myself stranded at some embassy, with no way of contacting anyone anywhere, being interrogated by scary officers and walking alone through the streets at night. With these upsetting images in mind, I fell into some sort of half-sleep/half-wake.

Luckily, I did find all of my valuables in the morning and was able to travel to London and leave the country according to plan. Last night’s dream, however, (more than a week after the actual panic occurred) shows that this issue is deep-rooted in my subconscious.

Now, as I am still deeply immersed in my happiness project, I will not simply accept that this habit of losing things and the panic that follows will be a constant part of my life. So, I shall do some research into the topic, but, please, if you have any experiences or tips, do share them.

B x

German Neon And Frankly Frankie

Today will have to be another quick post, also the last in the row of me sharing things I like with you (well, at least in such a highly concentrated dose), and also meaning that I’ll be back at uni and in Germany to do real, live blogging about things that happen and things I think about. Yay! It’ll be such fun for you guys to read a blog that hasn’t been on autopilot for over two weeks (although I still think that option is marvelous, I might have underestimated the amount of time needed to write this many blog posts.

Back in focus: Sharing things I like. Today: Magazines! Yeehah! Although for those who don’t find themselves speaking fluent German, my first announcement might be a bit of a downer. My absolute favourite magazine is German, in German and called NEON. They also have a website that is more like an interactive forum (but also mainly in German, soz). Basically it is a funny yet serious magazine for people in their twenties, I’d say, though me and some friends started reading it while in our early teens, and I guess it is still interesting if you’re past your twenties… So, yes. It features stories about current issues, but also columns about everything in everyday life and really really fun things. Also these magazines tend to be beautiful (if you’ve read my post about cookbooks, you’ll know I have a soft spot for graphic design).

But, for all of those who don’t understand a word of German, this is my favourite English-language magazine: Frankie Magazine (Australia). Also extremely nice to look at and read and really fun. Though I have to add that while NEON is completely and utterly unisex, this one might be directed more towards women. No guarantee, though, I’m not an expert on this and it is 2015, so read any magazine you like please, no matter your gender.

Yes, so that’s that already. I am still looking for a nice Spanish-language (or even Danish, maybe) magazine, preferably beautifully designed, so if you have an idea about that, please let me know.

B x

Birthday Wishes – The Key To Happiness?!

We’re back to me mirroring Gretchen Rubin’s resolutions during her first happiness project. Today’s resolution is surprisingly simple and straight-forward. Like Ms. Rubin, I’d like to remember birthdays. I’d like to send those I love and care about a card or a message to let them know that I care and also to stay in contact.

During the past few years I have done this sporadically, whenever I knew for some reason that it was someone’s birthday and when I had the time to write a card. Messages were’t really necessary because those people I’d write a birthday message, say on Facebook or WhatsApp, I usually saw on their birthday. School had that kind of convenience.

But, this time I have approached the topic systematically: I have printed a birthday calendar (very basic, but so useful, here), found out birthdays of friends and family –  Facebook and my dad’s phone proved invaluable for this task, I have some cards on my desk and all the addresses on a nice document, so that birthdays can now come. I might also set some kind of tracker on Outlook or something so that I actually remember them, but the groundwork is laid. Success!

I know it is a tiny tiny thing to do, but I also know it will make my friends and family, but especially me insanely happy. Such fun!

B x

Crisp Eyebrows Are The Best Kind Of Eyebrows

As you might remember, one of my resolutions as part of my happiness project was to get down with all that make-up business, that, until now, has largely remained a misery for me.

So, though I can still not say that I have mastered the art form and make-up tutorials bore me to death, I think I might have made some initial progress, and I’d like to share that with you. So, the beginning to solving a problem is often admitting that you have it and then working with that. Now, the whole make-up thing is not really a pressing problem, but it is one of life’s annoyances. Acceptance done. I also know that I will never enthusiastically spend hours in front of the mirror painting shadows on my face. So, that is already heaps to work with: My make-up should be quick and uncomplicated and preferably not require a lot of skills. Still, if I do make the effort I’d like to know that it is worth it.

As a consequence, I spent my last few days keeping an eye out for make-up and tools that seems like it is made for people like me, people who don’t necessarily know the ways of the trade but want a piece of the cake (aka the benefits). This is what I came up with:

Eyebrow Gel – My friend, who is one of those make-up people, is manic about her eyebrows. And it pays off, they are bloody impressive and make a huge impact on how the whole face looks. However, she uses a multitude of powders and pens and brushes and combs and things that I could never handle. I already know that I’m hopeless with an eyebrow pen (I’ve tried, believe me). So, the other day, I stumbled upon this thing in a magazine – eyebrow gel. It was part of a feature about how to look like a model (whatever that my mean) in five minutes and they mentioned this gel by some kooky very expensive brand. But, when I went to my local drugstore, they did have a cheap version of it. Luckily, it was “one colour suits all”, meaning I couldn’t even make any wrong choices in terms of eyebrow tone.  And, I’m telling you, this stuff is magic. You just kind of put it on your eyebrows (it has a little mascara-like brush thingy), nothing much you can do wrong, and it shapes and colours you eyebrows. YAY! Such success. The only thing that is a bit odd is that the gel dries up and leaves your eyebrows a bit crisp, which, let me tell you is a very very strange sensation.

Lip Stain – Now, same article, same feature, also mentioned lip stain. Now I was instantly intrigued: I never managed to handle lipstick (it just looks odd) and lip gloss is so sticky and annoying. Enter: Lip Stain, which is like a felt-tip pen for your lips, which means it also eliminates any problems that might occur due to the handling of lip liner. Again, I found a cheap version at the drugstore and I now use it all the time. Usually I apply the stain in the morning and then I moisturize my lips throughout the day (they’re extremely chapped and I cultivate a habit of practically chewing on my lower lip…) and it’s all just mighty fine.

Please, I would love to know: What is your make-up secret, your favourite tool, your most-used item?

B x

Do Good, Be Good… ?

Christmas is over now for real. Generally, that means we stop giving presents and focus on our New Year’s resolutions. But sometimes a wee bit of ‘giving’ sneaks in to this list of goals that we abandon before February begins – we want to volunteer or be nicer to others to make ourselves feel better.

Instinctively, we frown upon this ‘selfish altruism’. But isn’t altruism always also selfish? Anyone who had biology at school learned that animals show altruistic because ultimately it benefits them (I’m thinking vampire bats and boobies). And even those who don’t believe in evolution and instead call upon God(s) for answers do good in order that they get away pleasantly after death.

So, as you might have guessed, especially if you have been following my Happiness Project, I have a personal reason for all this philosophy: It will be part of my resolution. ‘Doing good’ is a broad field, though. And we all have a different image of what it means. My definition, I must admit, is a bit cloudy. This will not be an obstacle, I have simply narrowed it down, following the example of Gretchen Rubin.

I want to be generous. This is something that, in some situations, comes natural to me. I love to give gifts, I love to share music I love with the people I love, and all that. In other respects, it is harder. Especially when I am in a bad mood, I find it hard to give other people their due and ideally a bit more than that. But, fake it till you make it has always been my strategy, which also coincides with on of Rubin’s truths: Act like it till you feel like it (or something like that). Now I am not aiming to just donate some money and make a tick on my resolutions chart, I want it to make me happier and improve my relationships. As a consequence, I will have to learn to let people in the supermarket go first, listen to my friend when all she talks about is her boyfriend (who is lovely and makes her really happy), stop resenting people for changing and moving on and try to think of what I can do to make the lives of the people around me more pleasant.

As you see, trying to be more generous sounds like an excellent exercise for me to be more empathetic, pleasant and kind. When I call it an exercise, it is really an experiment: Will my conscious effort to be more generous have an effect on my unconscious behaviour?

We shall see.

B x

Keeping Up With… Music

And on and on we go on this journey through the cultural highlights of my life. Today’s topic: Music! In particular: How to keep up with contemporary music! Yay! So, here we go:

I love music. Really, really do. My problem: There is just SO MUCH music out there. When and where am I meant to listen to all of that, make up my mind about whether I like it or not AND the listen to it repeatedly (learn all the words, go to the artist’s gigs, become a wholehearted fan,…). It just seems impossible. And this is just music. Music is probably the most low-maintenance of the things I’d like to keep up to date with. I can listen to music WHILE doing other things. This ain’t so easy with things like books or TV that require our more or less undivided attention. Still, I mainly end up listening to music that I know and love.

The solution: Radio! Ay! The easy yet classic answer to my problem.

Now, to pick up the pace a bit: My favourite radio station is called Triple J (you can listen to it here). You will find that it is Australian which renders all kind of things besides music absolutely useless (especially weather forecasts and anything like morning shows, seeing as they are in a completely different time zone) but all the more fun to listen to.

Plus, most importantly, they have a great mix of the newest, hippest music. The highlight: Every year, the listeners vote the ‘Triple J Hottest 100’. This year’s countdown will take place on January 26th.

Are there any other radio stations you listen too that I should know about?

B x