“Why don’t you write a book?”

A girl I work with introduced me to a book entitled Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Her roommate is apparently friends with the author, who sold the book for half a million euro. Immediately I was bitter but then I decided to take a step back and remind myself that I haven’t written in so long. This girl obviously went to a lot of trouble and it paid off for her, so I should be happy for her. I decided to prove this to myself by going out and buying the book. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to start it once I finish reading my current book.51KAGMZ0wwL

When I told my sister about it, the first thing she said to me was “why do you write a book?”. Obviously that’s been my dream, but I was honest with her about my lack of motivation for writing anymore. She encouraged me nonetheless and her words have stuck with me. I have an idea, but I can’t bring myself to write it in fear of losing interest like I always do, even if I follow the mantra I mentioned in a previous entry:

Get it done now, get it right later

I’ve fixed my laptop so there’s no longer the excuse of that being the issue. I’d love to bring my laptop somewhere and write, not just at home. I don’t drink coffee so unfortunately that’s not an option. Would they let me stay there if I just drank milk or water? I couldn’t even imagine having one of their snacks because of my selective eating habits.

If I can push myself to do yoga, to go for a walk every other lunchtime, to meditate each morning, why can’t I push myself to write?

Checking in

I haven’t been on WordPress in a while because once again my lack of motivation has overtaken me. I just get these periods when I avoid certain things I usually enjoy doing, including blogging. I’m not saying I’m back 100% but I will make the effort to update more and fight against my own procrastination.

Quite a few changes have been made in my day-to-day life and I’d like to share them to you in bullet point format:

  • As I mentioned before I’ve started a bullet journal (hence the bullet points!), and I think it’s helped me keep myself motivated in at least some aspects of my life.
  • I’ve started doing yoga again (did I already mention that?). At first I was doing a beginner class on Thursdays and I found the instructor very tough. Another instructor covered for her last Thursday whom I found to be much better so now I’m attending her classes on Mondays. I also hope to practice on my own 1-2 days per week. Anyone know of any good Vinyasa Yoga tutorials on YouTube?
  • I’ve stopped doing the Instagram challenge. You could look at this as a negative but in reality I was finding it a chore and mostly I just scanned through old pictures to try and match the day’s tag. It’s hard to find anything new to photograph when you go to the same places every day.
  • In spite of my rant about having to pay for meditation apps, I gave in and subscribed to Headspace when they offered me a really generous discount. But I love it, and I do it twice a day without feeling like I have to.  But I did get some great advice from a fellow blogger so I thank you!
  • I’m reading more. There was a time when you couldn’t find me without a book in my hands, and even though I’m ahead in my Goodreads reading challenge, I don’t feel like I’m reading enough. So what’s my problem? It could be my addiction to YouTube when I come home in the evenings. I’m not the type of person who can read and listen to stuff at the same time. Or maybe I’m reading books that aren’t that exciting. But that’s changed, I’m reading more enjoyable books now and seem to be flying through them, even if I still choose YouTube over them!
  • I have a story idea. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times again, but it’s there and I’ve done a little bit of writing with it, but it’s not easy. I should just run with it before I lose interest, that’s the challenge!
  • Probably the greatest achievement I’ve made recently is going to the dentist. I’m not going to tell you how long it’s been, but just know that it’s LONG. Considering my parents paid thousands for periodontal and orthodontic treatment for me, I owe it to them to keep my teeth in good shape. So I went and… it was bad. I had to get a cleaning which I hate, and not only that, I have to get MORE cleaning next week! (It was supposed to be this week but my dentist had to reschedule – secretly delighted!). He also wants to put a retaining bar around the back of my bottom teeth (I have one around the back of my top teeth from my braces) because I have so much bone loss in my bottom jaw and my teeth will eventually come loose. I’m more worried how much it will cost – €70 just for a cleaning! But I’m more thorough now with my teeth cleaning: twice a day I brush, floss, use inter-dental brushes, and rinse. It’s ironic though, I don’t drink, smoke, eat sweets or drink fizzy drinks and yet my teeth (well, my gums) are so bad!

That’s all I can think of for now. If I think of any more I’ll update!

To continue your mindful journey…PAY UP!

I can’t help but be annoyed with certain apps that offer guided meditations with strict limits on the free content. I found one that was really helpful but as soon as I finished the tenth step in the series, I was essentially done unless I wanted to fork over €12.99 per month.

Some apps are good, especially the ones that don’t offer the step-by-step meditations, but rather allow you to do different types based on your mood and physical status (but again, the free content is limited). I say “some” like I’ve tried loads of meditation apps, when in reality I’ve tried about three. These are listed below:

Headspace (€12.99 per month)hero-blog-v2

This is my favourite one and unfortunately you have to pay to access beyond their beginner series. I loved this because of how the meditation itself was structured, especially at the end when you’re told to allow your mind to flow freely for a few seconds, not trying to ground it in anyway. It’s a little reprieve because let’s face it, we do try harder than we should to focus on our breathing. Plus I love their animations!

Calm (€12.99 per month)

This is another series that ends once you reach the end of the basics. It does offer stories to help you fall asleep but I haven’t yet needed to use them. I’ve only just started this one so I can’t comment too much on it.

Stop, Breathe and Think (€11.49 per month)

I love this one because it offers you meditations depending on what mood you’re in. Yes, you’re limited in terms of free content, but it’s still useful. Each meditation has the option of a male or female voice, which helps to change it up when you eventually find yourself only able to listen to the same select few meditations.

Does anyone have any other recommendations? I’d like to keep my guided meditations varied. You might suggest I simply go without the guidance but to be honest I prefer a voice instructing me, otherwise I’m hopeless!

Bullet Journal

A special shout-out to Polo for introducing me to the Bullet Journal. Something I love is making lists and organising my life into a notebook, so when I heard of this I was in heaven!

If you look for the definition of a bullet journal, you may not find anything definite, which is what makes it so interesting. You can use it as anything: to-do lists, diary, sketchbook, etc. So far I’ve took inspiration from other Bullet Journalists and created weekly logs, movies to watch, books to read, etc. I look forward to ticking off stuff I have done and creating new pages.

Some samples below:

I highly recommend this for people who find their lives completely disorganised because I find that this really puts things into perspective and acts as a great motivator if you love writing, like me!

Challenging negative thoughts

Chapter 4 of Owning It by Caroline Foran discusses the Negativity Bias, which Foran defines as “the way in which negative experiences weigh more heavily on the brain than positive ones.”

The exercise provided at the end of the chapter entitled ‘Cognitive Restructuring’, is designed to help you look at your negative thoughts logically and reduce your belief in “unhelpful thoughts”, in other words, to give your thoughts a fair trial. It consists of eight steps and as I list them out below, I’m going include my own situation that this exercise helped me with immensely just yesterday.

Step 1: Identify the situation

I’m going to a show in the city centre by myself. I feel sad (pathetic) going by myself. I’d rather go home and be in my comfort zone. I’m going to have to rush from work, plus I have no idea where or if I can get food beforehand. I probably won’t enjoy it.

Step 2: Analyse your mood

  • Dread
  • Sadnessdownload (6)

Step 3: Identify the automatic thoughts

  • I’ll end up with an empty stomach all night
  • It won’t be enjoyable
  • I’ll stand out like a sore thumb
  • It’ll go on too long
  • It’ll be mad late by the time I get home

Step 4: Find objective supportive evidence

  • It used to take me up to an hour to get into the city when I went to college in the evenings from work
  • I don’t know where I can eat – there are no food places around the venue

Step 5: Find objective contradictory evidence

  • There is a restaurant down the road from my office, according to my co-worker, and I can always have snacks if worse comes to worse
  • I’ve seen people attend shows solo plenty of times
  • Shows usually go on no longer than three hours
  • Traffic is clear at night so I’ll be home quickly
  • There will be a break halfway through the show so I can decide if I want to stay or not – I’m not a prisoner!

Step 6: Identify fair and balanced thoughts

  • If it’s not enjoyable, I’m not obliged to stay
  • Ninety minutes is plenty of time to get food and get into the city
  • I’ll more than likely be home at my usual time when I’m out with friends
  • Who cares if I’m alone?

Step 7: Monitor your present mood

  • Calmer
  • Less tense

Step 8: Create positive affirmations

  • I am confident
  • I am a good time-keeper
  • I make good choices

It turned out that the show actually started later than I had originally thought so I had plenty of time to get food in a traditional fish & chips restaurant nearby and made it in to the city with plenty of time to spare, so much so that I had to pass time. This exercise really helped me, though I was afraid to admit it at the time. I didn’t feel dread anymore, instead my anxiety settled as I looked at the situation from every angle and it no longer seemed scary.

And yes, I had a great time!