The Gilmore Girls Therapy

Whenever I have to sort out my life I do so watching Gilmore Girls. It is perfect. It is practically made for running in the background while I pay bills, clean my flat and make big life decisions. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s the perfect blend of interesting and trivial.

Plus, 77 episodes is the perfect length for a series that you can watch again and again: It is long enough that although I watched it a thousand times already I still can’t speak along the dialogue. And it is such a strong independent woman show. It motivates me to get a grip and move on with my life, live it. Okay, yes, that sounded a bit melodramatic. After all that would mean ‘living my life’ is checking emails, making doctor’s appointments and mobbing the floor. But, after all, sorting out my life, however boring, is better than sleeping all day and putting off showering for too long (to justify it, I tell myself that I’m giving my hair an all-natural conditioning… I know, sad). Plus, when I watch episodes of Gilmore Girls it isn’t even boring.

Also, Gilmore Girls is infinite inspiration. Rory Gilmore is my spirit animal. Just watching this show with its innumerable literary and pop culture references makes me want to do the things that I love doing. You know when you’re miserable and you know exactly what to do to stop being miserable, but you’re to miserable to do it? Yeah. Well, Gilmore Girls helps me escape that vicious circle. Who needs therapy, ay?

B x

Weekly Happiness Update I

Over the last few weeks I have greatly neglected my happiness project, and, surprise surprise, I am considerably miserable. To be fair, I don’t think the neglect is the primary reason for that. I’ve known myself for almost nineteen years now, and I know I’m at my best when I’m sucked up in routine. After the semester is over and the next one isn’t starting until April, I’m pretty much free 24 hours a day. On the other hand, I have driving lessons and physiotherapy during the week and have to stay here for most of the holiday.

So, yeah. Only a week after my last exams I have turned into a bit of a sloth. Of course I had great plans for my newly gained free time, but… You know how it is.

Really it is not much of a secret about how this happiness project works for me, and why reading self-help books really do work: It is not because these include life-changing advice, but because they really just remind us of what we already know. I know that not showering for days and days decreases my happiness considerably and that I feel a lot better when I drink more than two litres a day (tea, that is, not alcohol).

So, anyways, it is time I take up my happiness project again and stop being miserable when it is so easy not to be. I’ll need to update my resolutions to my current situation and then implement these accordingly. I’ll do that right now actually, after I do the dishes (Happiness Secret #482: I’m happier when I’m not surrounded by dirty dishes that stare at me guiltily.).

You’ll hear about those next Sunday!

B x

Saturday DAY Fever

Blogging is all about sharing, right? I’ve shared some rather negative emotions over the last few days, so to make up for it I should also share that today I am having a genuinely great day. What’s the reason for that? I guess it’s an accumulation of different minuscule factors that add up and brighten the day.

  1. It’s Saturday. Saturdays are the bestest days. Of course if you spend the day working an 8-hour shift your opinion might differ, but for a lazy student like me, weekends are off and and Saturdays are amazing. Firstly, they are free from pressure: You’ll always have Sunday to catch up on stuff from uni (or blogging101), and even if you’re completely hung-over, it’s fine. Secondly, shops are open. Here in Germany all shops are closed on Sunday. All shops, all day. So Saturday is the perfect day to take the bus to the city centre (or better: cycle) and get that battery in your watch replaced or buy running shoes or do all those kind of things that you don’t have time for during the week. Perfect. Thirdly, does there have to be a thirdly? No, two’s enough. Next.
  2. I woke up in a good mood. This one is essential. My moods in the morning are completely random, but often it dictates the day I’m about to have. Of course, I can overcome a bad mood, but that is just so much effort, and it’s so much easier just waking up with the right mindset. Like today! Yay!
  3. Already, I have fulfilled some of my resolutions. They might be minor achievements, but they are achievements and not only do they give me the feeling of success, they also give me an extra happiness boost!
  4. I let myself be inspired. One of my resolutions is to watch a TED talk a day, because I get tired of them if I watch more than one at a time (too much idealism and enthusiasm can be tiring), but I love them and the feeling they give me immensely. This was today’s: Watch it yourself and be inspired!
  5. It’s neither raining nor dark. Maybe you guys have similar experience with the effect on weather on your personal mood, so you’ll understand that living in the north of Germany at the moment is a mayor downer: You almost never see the sun (or proper daylight, actually) and odds are that it is pissing down/hailing/snowing/about to do one of the above mentioned. So lucky day today. I’ll be able to leave the house without being assaulted by the season.

Oh, I came up with five whole reasons, not bad. Once I have finished writing this post, tagged it and all that, I’ll be even happier, because it allows me to tick yet another resolution: Blog daily.

May your Saturdays be as (if not more) cheerful!

B x

Leon, oh Leon…

Featuring today: The best ever cookbook(s) I have come across so far in my life. Woohoo!

We all eat. It is a necessity, yet it can also be a source of a lot of problems and issues. We eat too much or too little, we spend too much money on food, we don’t eat healthy enough, we don’t know how to cook, we never have the time and energy to cook, and then if we cook we always cook too much and don’t know what to do with the leftovers, … the list is bloody long. And we haven’t even started on actual eating issues.

Of course, now to expect a cookbook to solve all these problems would be foolish, but it can certainly help. More with the problems I mentioned earlier, but if you consider yourself to have eating issues and you consider to buy a cookbook, you’re certainly on a good way (or not, who knows). Anyway, I have found the ideal cookbook for myself, which helped (and continues to help) me out significantly in my day-to-day life.

Now maybe if I describe to you how and why this is true, you’ll also get to know some of the features of the book(s). As you have already established from the plural in brackets, there is more than one book. Basically, these books are written by some people who run a small chain of fast food restaurants in London. Their business idea was to make and sell fresh and healthy fast food that tastes delicious. So when they were successful with that, they decided to publish some of their tried and tested recipes in a book. And then another. And then another.

So, you now already know that these books help me solve some of my food-related problems: It is fast, fresh, (more or less) healthy and delicious. More importantly though: generally, the books feature quite simple meals. Simple not only in terms of making them, but also in terms of their style. For someone like me, who has the taste buds of a child, a lot of cookbooks are useless, because the meals they feature are waaay to fancy. Especially when people think that they should combine fruit with a savoury meal, they have lost me entirely. And this doesn’t mean I don’t love food, oh, believe me, I do. And my taste is very varied: I love classic dishes at home, Greek food, Italian food, Asian food, all of that. But rather rustic, please.

Then, the other major problem I have with cooking and eating is the effort. It just takes so much time till something is ready and so little time for me to eat is once it is ready, so why bother. Well, these books are beautiful. Like truly beautiful. And you don’t even have to be a bibliophile to notice it. Every recipe is elaborately illustrated, the entire book benefits from the ingenious graphic design and it is nice to look, even nice to touch. It all looks so delicious and easy to make that walking to the supermarket over the road and preparing a fresh meal feels like so much less of a hassle.

Now, I almost forgot mentioning the name, although you might have gotten that from the title. They are called LEON and so far five big books (one for vegetarian cooking, one for baking, etc., cost about £20 each) and several smaller books (for things like soups, breakfast and stuff, cost about £6 each – also make great presents!) have been published. This is the website, there are also recipes and videos online. I also know that some of the books have been translated into German, so chances are good they will be available in your language too (which might be more convenient with the measurements).

Please go to the bookshop closest too you and look at it yourself, this is not the kind of book you can check out on Amazon (unless you are absolutely certain that you want it and the purchase is just an annoying formality), you have to hold it in your hands.

Also, do share any cookbooks that lighten up your life day after day.

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

Blogosphere And Wills And Ways

As part of her happiness project Gretchen Rubin launched a blog. This was part of my inspiration to revitalize a blog I had started while without internet (who has an idea like that? Read it here) but not continued regularly – this blog. So now, as part of me mirroring that lady’s resolutions, it is time for me to use this as a pit stop and reflect upon how it is going.

Well, I guess, once you have you blog all set up, all you need to do is write, and, if you’re lucky, there’s people out there reading what you are writing. But, let me tell you, the first steps aren’t that easy when you’re new to the blogosphere (I hope people don’t actually use that as a word in real life), it is pretty confusing. What I have learned: The settings are your friends. Many problems get resolved if you just go through them once from beginning to end.

Apart from that, I am sort of having an odd start into daily blogging, because I started a week before I left uni for Christmas break and I knew I would not have time to write a blog post daily, yet I was not ready to fail my resolution to ‘blog daily’ every single day for over two weeks. So, what did I do? I though of some more or less things I could write about and then I wrote all of the posts in advance, scheduled them and left the blog to itself till I returned to Germany. Well, at least that was the plan. Turns out it’s not that easy to write fifteen blog posts in very little time especially when, like me, you have a tendency to write long elaborate sentences. So I am now halfway into Christmas break and I’ve managed to post daily, although I didn’t really have the time, and am now writing the last few posts so that I can finally lean back and fulfill my responsibilities towards my friends and family.

But, as they say in German ‘Wo ein Wille ist, ist auch ein Weg’ (where there’s a will, there is also a way), and I will manage to keep this one resolution. And I am also extremely blessed to have readers from four different continents (where are you, Africa?!), people who actually read what I write!!!! So, yes, going strong. And I intend to continue this streak.

B x

Trashy TV and Very Little Time

My plan to write posts in advance has failed miserably. At first, I wrote the posts for the following day, which was not too bad, but now I have about 15 minutes in order not to fail my resolution to “blog daily”, plus my battery is running low. Life is tough (or ‘toff’ as they’d say in Chelsea). But I can do this.

Here we go. Today, I’d like to share my favourite reality TV show. We all watch some horrible TV, or read some horrible fiction or listen to horrible music because we enjoy it, and there’s no reason to feel ashamed about it.

I love reality TV because it gives me the illusion that those characters are real, and therefore judging them and their choices is much more fun. It is also amazing how invested you become in those people’s fortunes. And as it is ‘real’ it feels less pathetic to root for a particular relationship or person. Of course we feel the same way about fiction (please, don’t tell me you didn’t cross your fingers that Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy would get together already). But it all feels a lot less definite on reality TV. Such fun.

So, my all-time favourite reality TV show is “Made in Chelsea”. If you haven’t already, please, please watch it.

(I’M RUNNING OUT OF TIME, NEED TO TYPE FASTER)

It is basically about these rich kids in their early twenties in Chelsea (posh bit of Central London), and all they do is hang out in cafes and bars and there’s intrigues and everyone has slept with everything. It is hilarious and so great.

This ad for season 5 is perfect to describe how it all works (in a lovely ironic manner):

So, that’s that for now. Oh, I almost forgot. The close runner up to MIC (yes, acronym for Made in Chelsea) is Take Me Out. I know this is a format that exists in several countries, so please consider that I’m talking about the UK version that is hosted by that horrible and hilarious Paddy (… don’t know the last name and no time to look it up). It is the exact opposite of MIC in terms of poshness, but equally misogynistic and trashy.

B x

Mirroring Resolutions, Things I Like And Blogging Over Christmas

My Happiness Project is only about a week old, and yet somehow I have managed to fail every one of my resolutions at least once. I’ve completed the circle yesterday when I broke my promise to blog daily by – you’ve guessed it – not blogging. Oh well. This was pretty much predictable. It’s not like this hurts anyone. But if you’ve thought that I can be distracted from my ambitions this quickly, you’re wrong: I’ll make all of this work somehow.

A major helper is an aspect of wordpress.com that I only discovered today (I’m new, okay, cut me some slag!): Scheduling posts. This simple feature will go a long way for me trying to keep my promises to myself. I can simply write posts in advance. Especially at this time of year this is extremely useful: Now that I’m at home over Christmas, I don’t have the time to write daily and it will probably be that way until the 6th or 7th of January, when I return to university.

So what I have thought of was this: For this time, I will have two feature categories supplying you with posts. The first one is related to my Happiness Project.  As you might know from this post, I have come up with seven aims of my own. However, as I was reading Rubin’s book, I constantly felt that I should make a not, that I might be missing something essential, like the resolutions that could bring me happiness were just slipping through my fingers (like the ABBA song but in a different context). So I’ve gone back through her aims and resolutions (there are so many!) and I’ve chosen seven that also make sense for me to adapt. Of course, that means that I now have 14 resolutions to think about and keep track of, so I’ll have to make a new track sheet… Which I’ll do right after writing this post, I promise.

That’s that. But if you’re a careful reader you’ll recall that I was talking about two new categories, and indeed I was. The second one is remotely connected to the idea of Christmas. I am not religious, but I love Christmas. What I like most is the idea of sharing. You share your precious time with the other members of your family, no matter how annoying they might be. You share presents of course, and loads of food. This is also the time of year when many people that are otherwise absorbed in their own worries remember to share with those who aren’t as lucky as they are. I don’t have a lot of money to give to charities and I don’t cook very well, but giving presents is a passion of mine. I love to share things that I love. And this is going to be the second category: Me sharing things with you, whoever you might be.

There we are: Enjoy the posts, Merry Christmas, and I’ll return to live-blogging at the beginning of the next year!

B x