I’ve decided to restart my month in summary, as I’ve missed writing them (and I’ll soon have a lot to write about again)! Every month I’ll be talking about the highlights of what’s been going on (warning: I’m sure there will be a lot of cocktail talk), as well as taking a look at what’s ahead. I hope you like the slightly new and improved format.
After a heavily indulgent holiday season, January was all about getting back on track with work and fitness. I’ve thankfully had a lot of work to do, so I’ve been using my time at home to get as much done as possible. As a result, I’ve become a bit of a hermit; I work all day, then write my novel, and then I take a walk and visit either my brother or my grandparents.
I’m happy to not have a lot on, as I’m saving for Berlin next month (note: there are a lot of coffees and cakes to be consumed). I cannot believe I’ll be heading there in just over three weeks – scary, exciting, amazing. Argh!
Many of you will already know that I now meditate on a daily basis, and I’m happy to report that I’ve also started doing yoga every single morning outside on my terrace. I love yoga; it’s the one form of exercise that I’ve come back to repeatedly over the years, and I find it’s not only great for the body, but it’s also great for the mind.
So now, every morning from around 7:30am, you’ll find me outside, saluting the sun and starting my day the right way. I absolutely love it and vow to continue this habit all year. I was also impressed to find that the hard work that I did last May in Ubud has paid off; despite the fact I haven’t been practising much in between, my strength is still there, and I am finding it easy to do all the poses that I could do back then.
Work is going well, but I have felt myself getting overwhelmed and stressed, which is something I’m trying to nip in the bud. Why overwhelmed? Well, I have so many things that I want to do this year and not enough time to get it all done in. And the stress leads on from that. Meditation is helping me to stay grounded, though – that and by constantly reminding myself that there will always be more to be done, but you have to try and balance everything out as best as you can.
Places I’ve visited
From next month, this section will contain a list of all the places I’ve visited – right now, there’s nothing to say other than I’m in Cyprus and I’ll be in Cyprus for another three weeks! I will also restart my month in numbers; this month all I can tell you is that I’ve consumed 100+ coffees and have probably performed an equal amount of sun salutations.
I call this detoxing and re-toxing in equal measure.
Most popular new post
My post on feeling the fear but doing it anyway seemed to resonate with a lot of you, which made me really happy. I also talked about how I feel like a bit of a fraud because people always seem to think I do all these so-called crazy things like moving countries or travelling without being scared shitless before I go ahead and do them. Hopefully, this post showed that a lot goes on behind the scenes before I go for things – the difference is, I’m crazy enough to just do them anyway!
Other posts in January
Most popular Instagram photo
I loved, loved, loved taking photos at Lake Fuschl in Austria – and is that surprising? Look at how beautiful it is. Seems like you all agree!
Lake Fuschl near Salzburg. This was right next to the hotel I was staying in; in the summer people bathe here and it's not hard to see why. The water was crystal clear and just look at that backdrop! I enjoyed the holidays but I'm now looking forward to getting back to work. 2016 will be the year of hitting professional and personal goals, travelling even more, and enjoying every moment of this crazy ride called life. And drinking cocktails. Everywhere. Willing to join me? #austria #salzburg #travel #wanderlust #instapassport #instatravel #happy #ontheroad #digitalnomad #liveauthentic #bestoftheday #like4like #instadaily #lake #nature #beautiful #lookingforward #lifegoals #kickingass #lifeisbeautiful #visitaustria
This month I’ve been:
Hands down the best book I read last month. As I am heading to Berlin soon, I’ve been reading books that are either set there, or that explore some aspect of the city’s history. The author of this book spent time in Berlin not long after the wall had fallen, and met with people who had resisted the Stasi (East Germany’s state security force), as well as some whose lives had been all but destroyed by the dictatorship. She exposes the devastating effects constant surveillance had on people.
I absolutely loved Anna’s style of investigative reporting, as well as how she weaved her own story of how the research affected her into the book. It also deeply saddened me to read about the kind of things people can do to each other in the name of bullshit, but it’s eye-opening. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, after all.
Continuing with my theme of books set in Berlin, I decided to delve into this beauty. Alone in Berlin is a portrait of life in the city under Nazi rule and the story of one working-class couple who decides to take a stand when their only son is killed on the front. They launch a simple resistance campaign that soon has the Gestapo on their trail – this is heart-in-your-throat kind of stuff. The scale of their effort is small, but you know that if they’re discovered it means death, so you’re on the edge of your seat throughout. The story was actually inspired by the real-life activities of Elsie and Otto Hampel, who undertook a similar campaign during Nazi rule.
Brilliant book and one I’d definitely recommend if you’re interested in reading about life under the Nazis.
Ah, Me Before You. Everyone raved about this book, and as I was concerned that it wouldn’t live up to its hype I avoided reading it for ages. In the end, I caved and did anyway – my conclusion? As I suspected, it didn’t really do anything for me.
The story follows Louisa Clark, an ordinary girl leading an ordinary life – she has the boyfriend, the close family, and has never left her tiny village. Circumstances force her to take a job working for Will Traynor – a guy who used to live a huge life of big deals, extreme sports and worldwide travel until a freak accident rendered him wheelchair-bound. Will is bossy and acerbic, but Lou brings unexpected joy to his life and soon his happiness means more to her than expected. When she finds out he has a shocking plan, she sets out to show him his life is still worth living.
I’m not quite sure why I didn’t enjoy it that much. Perhaps I’m not in the right frame of mind for this kind of book, or perhaps I just didn’t quite connect with the characters, I’m not too sure. I know that it’s not the type of book I’d usually go for, but The Fault in Our Stars is similar to this and I absolutely loved it. Anyway, needless to say, it was okay, but not an earth shattering kind of read for me.
If you have any interest in the crazy stuff that goes on in North Korea, then this is the book for you. I devoured The Orphan Master’s Son in less than three days. The author (who won a Pulitzer for this book) allegedly included a lot of stuff that actually happens in the ‘Democratic’ People’s Republic of North Korea.’ Even if only a fraction of what happens in the story has happened in real life, then my gosh – things are worse than I ever imagined them to be there.
The story follows Pak Jun Do – the son of an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognise the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself ‘a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,’ Jun Do rises in the ranks and becomes a professional kidnapper. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he takes on the role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save Sun Moon, a legendary North Korean actress and the woman he loves.
There’s a slight element of the surreal in this book; I regularly found myself wondering “is this guy tripping now, or is this for real?!” But it added to the tone of the novel and overall I found it to be a gripping and interesting read. I definitely recommend it.
People are always baffled by the fact that I don’t watch TV, but the reason is simple: I’d rather use that time to read! Plus, I am really not a big fan of modern Hollywood movies, as I find them predictable and one-dimensional. However, I told myself that this year I am going to try and watch more classics, such as old flicks or ones from the world of international cinema. This month I watched:
I first heard of this classic during an episode of Sex and the City when Carrie and the girls are talking about it, and I had always meant to watch it; I finally got around to it the other day. The story follows Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford’s characters who are involved in a classic ‘opposites attract’ relationship.
Katie (Streisand) is a rebellious activist while Hubbell (Redford) is a guy who’s content living a safe, yuppy life. Katie pushes Hubbell because she wants him to be everything that she believes he is, which causes some tension between them, as he clearly needs a girl who can just roll with the simple kind of lifestyle he wants. But they love each other deeply, which makes for really interesting tension on the screen. I won’t reveal too much, but let’s just say I absolutely loved it and I usually hate romantic movies!
When I recently told my close friend Nora that I had been reading Berlin-related books, she recommended a couple of relevant movies that she thought would pique my interest in the city further. Well, she has marvelous taste, as this movie is phenomenal! I’m rarely captivated by a movie from the start to finish, but this one had me so hooked I didn’t look at my phone once while I was watching (believe me, this is no small feat).
David Bowie – Heroes
I cannot believe we lost Bowie in January. I’m not usually affected by celebrity deaths (an exception being James Gandolfini of The Sopranos fame – my brothers and I were really upset about that!), but hearing that Bowie had passed away really bothered me. I found myself drawn to the album Heroes (I suspect because I know it was a product of his time in Berlin) and I’ve been playing it nonstop ever since. The song Heroes, in particular, is a favourite of mine – the lyrics carry a lot of meaning.
Ekhart Yoga I recently discovered this online yoga video website and I love their classes. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in practising at home.
This photo feature on late Meiji Japan. The photos have been hand-coloured, which gives them a really beautiful effect. These are the kind of prints I’d love on the walls of my future home.
Family Guy. My brothers and sisters are obsessed with this show and I just don’t get it. It irritates the hell out of me!
I’m off to Berlin on March 1st and I cannot wait. I’ve rented the cutest little apartment via Airbnb in the Prenzlauer Berg area of the city and I’m looking forward to exploring, working and writing my next book.
After that, I have to return to the UK to take care of a few things, and while I’m there I’m planning on catching up with friends in London and doing a bit of shopping.
Following that? Who knows! The only plan that’s set in stone right now is Japan in October, and in between April and then I haven’t decided yet. If I love Berlin, I will head back there. I’m also toying with the idea of Prague. And yes, I’ll be returning to Cyprus, too, as I’ve promised myself I’ll be spending a lot more time with the family now.
This year is a work in progress, and I’m absolutely loving the excitement that comes from not knowing where each month will take me. 2016, you’re looking damn good already.