it’s about time: healthy happiness.

it’s about time: healthy happiness.

Since the 1st of January 2017, I’ve probably written a gazillion to-do lists in various notebooks and mobile phone apps with things I want to achieve. Okay, I’ve been doing that since my teenage years and have wanted to become a better person for both myself and those around me… and I’m not yet where I want to be. I’ve done well at meeting my academic goals, my adventure goals, any form of “bucket list” goals I have… but regarding my fitness, health and nutritional happiness, I can’t seem to leap the first hurdle, let alone cross the start line.

The fitness industry is booming with more people, particularly women, achieving the “look” of being fit, toned and healthy and I want to be part of it. In May last year, I was the closest I have been to being comfortable with the physical ‘me’ in a long time. I was going to the gym at least twice, if not three, times a week, and had been doing hour-long personal training sessions for three months. I could tell I was getting stronger and fitter even though I still grumbled and huffed when I had to do an exercise I didn’t like or if I was just feeling downright grumpy. What can you do? 😀

When I moved to Sheffield in September, I bought a gym membership but have only used it about ten times. It’s maddening. Even when I have it written in stark black ink “START GOING TO THE GYM” or “DO ANYTHING EXERCISEY ONCE A DAY” or more recently, “DO TEN THOUSAND STEPS A DAY”… I’ve hardly hit the goals. I give in to staying within my comfort zone but I know that every time this happens I’m putting off what I really want. And, that should be incentive enough.

Nevertheless, a friend of mine recently posted her fitness goals, her aims to get fit and I know that if I don’t start at some point (I.E. now), I never will. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible because I know that overwhelming myself with pressure will just send me to the nearest McDonalds and a sofa. My incentive is that I share this with you, and will continue to, so then I won’t let my little blog down so-to-speak. So, my goals aren’t to achieve the transformation that girls do in the movies, or imagine I’ll ever be an “instagram” girl standard. (I am not digging at myself here.)

I just want to know and feel that no matter whether I have had a cheeky cheat day or a holiday, I will have confidence to proudly stand in front of people I either know or don’t, in a ridiculous onesie or a bikini, with makeup on or makeup off, and be happy with what I eat and that I’m fit and healthy. 😀

I’m going to use a fitness programme by a now vaiiir famous instagrammer from Sydney: @kaylaitsines as well as doing a variety of exercises that my personal trainers taught me. I’ve chosen to do her programme (because I handily have it off an old friend (thank you)) and more importantly because it can be done anywhere. This may require a few adjustments at times but it means I don’t have to rely on gyms or which country I’m in to do it! This is great for me as one of the challenges I face is my knack for not staying in the same place for a good long period of time… so hopefully, as long as I have my trainers and some form of sports kit, I am good to go!

As another incentive to start, but also to do something that’s close to my heart, I’m raising money for MS Society UK – it is raising money for research for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease which affects the nerves anywhere and possibly everywhere in your body.

My Grandpa was diagnosed with it, and since with Parkinson’s, and although my role is only tiny, I want to do something (as well as mowing the lawns and feeding his birds of course 😀 ) The rest of my story is on my fundraising page

MS Society has launched a campaign, ‘Let’s Kiss Goodbye to MS‘ for May and I’ve jumped onto the bandwagon! Some are giving up alcohol or wearing makeup whereas I’m going to give up chocolate (cries inside) and train to run in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park Run on the 10th June. Two birds with one stone! Yay?

Xo.

Advertisements

Who dunnit!?: murder mystery at its finest

Who dunnit!?: murder mystery at its finest

April 7th, 2017:

I recently participated in hosting my fourth murder mystery dinner party with my “not-technically-my-housemates-but-those-who-I-live-with-them-most-of-the-time-housemates” in Nottingham last Friday.

As I am no longer a “fresher” and have transitioned from the ‘club scene’ to the ‘bar scene’ to go out for a few drinks and possibly a dance, I think that us young adults are having to come up with different ways to have an event or do the same thing over and over again. I love hosting events and have a healthy repertoire of parties from my past (almost) five years at university. actually, even before that, I have managed to entertain a multitude of guests from girly sleepovers to good-sized parties. (Wow, thanks to my parents for putting up with so much chaos in my teenage years…)

Thus, when the opportunity arose to suggest another event for our Nottingham household, I suggested a murder mystery dinner party.

It was an apt suggestion as in my second and fourth year of my undergraduate degree, my housemates (at the time) and I hosted them and had a cracking time.

Why are they worth the investment?

Every game is around £10-12 depending on the number of players per game – and is easily found on amazon.co.uk.  The game I played with friends in my fourth year was bought because I found it for £5 in TKMAXX once! The box includes invitations that give descriptions of all the characters involved and envelopes so you can either be “old school” and mail them to your chosen guests or just give them instead. If that’s too much effort, it’s easy just to take a picture of the descriptions and share it on WhatsApp or Facebook! 😉

There is also an audio CD and scripts for each of the characters, it is basically organised fun! 😀 Also, be ready to dress uuuuuuup! It is so brilliant.

Murder Mystery Take Four:

This time the chosen game titled ‘The Brie, the Bullet and the Black Cat’ required ten players. We already had a party of seven so reached out to friends to come along and time travel into the year of 1942 to crack a murder case. Normally, there is a round of the game for each course of a three-course dinner which I find offers a nice switch between being characters 1942 and ourselves in reality. As we only bought ingredients for food two hours before start time, we kept the extravagance to a minimum and had a main course and pudding course instead. Although there were crisps and dips to start us off! It was all vair yum. 😀

Everyone did a fantastic job trying to speak in different accents: Connor was German, Bety was Russian, Amy was French, Nichola was a husky French woman [wins best accent award], Danny was American, I was Danish, and the others slotted in somewhere in-between these diverse nationalities! There was much wine was drunk and food was eaten, and soon enough (three hours later), we voted on which of us were the murderers and the result was revealed! (Although I cannot remember from this part of the evening onwards until I was told about it the next morning… the Danes and their drinking, eh?!) 😉

Apart from the first murder mystery party I hosted with my family back when I was about fifteen or sixteen, here are photos of the three since, have been memorable events that have made my university life all the better! ❤

murder 2
Murder Mystery #2
murder 3
Murder Mystery #3
17909447_10154135621421706_1263179572_n
Murder Mystery #4

Excuse the last photo… I don’t remember taking it and usually, my polaroid skills do not result in pitch black photos!
[cred to Karmen for the monochrome polaroids]

I hope everyone has a go at doing this, it’s worth the while!

Xo.

“to build or not to build bridges?” – a metaphorical dilemma

“to build or not to build bridges?” – a metaphorical dilemma

I recently read an article shared by a friend on Facebook about friendships and how these change during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: ‘Why adult friendships makes me sad sometimes‘. The result of reading it making me stop and think, and reflect on what she wrote through the eyes of my own life.

I can relate to what she’s said of how during my teenage years, so many hours were devoted to building and maintaining friendships: the highlights of the week always being break time and lunch time at school, the use of messenger as soon as we got home and the rise of Bebo and especially Facebook (which apparently I joined almost nine years to the day ago!), the day-long day trips walking around the local town shopping – or more appropriately – window shopping. I always managed to remember to give out birthday cards, Christmas cards and was a rather avid gift giver as a display of my friendship.

Yet, as the author of the above article so articulately wrote, as I’ve creeped further into adulthood and more candles appear on the cake, the clock seems to race against me to remember to speak to a friend, invite them to an event, attend their own event… and the list goes on. I worried that my travels abroad during my third year of my undergraduate degree in Spain and China would result in losing many friends. Although we have technology in abundance these days, it is so easy to not pick up the phone and have meaningful exchanges like I once spent 2-3 hours a night doing at the young age of 15. Life is no longer within the confines of my parents’ rules and dependence and without this, the rest of the real world comes flooding in with responsibilities, distractions, and skewed perceptions of what sometimes is more important.

Yet, I have been so fortunate to have long-distance friendships that still stand strong. And, despite only seeing some of them once, twice a year, I adore them more than anything ❤

These friendships that have stood the test of distance, time, high stress-levels, bursts of excitement etc. give me faith that I’m doing something right by them. At least, I hope so. Many of my friends have joined the working world yet time doesn’t adjust to accommodate ‘adult friendships’ as if we all still have three million things on our to do list before being able to at least sit on the couch and take a relaxing breath.

These changes that accompany the transition to the independent big wide world are not something that we can control, nor is there a solution to harmonising the balance between work, life, home, friends, family and a myriad of other things that take up our time. Nevertheless, I now understand when one should always continue to build the metaphorical bridge between friendships or let them slowly burn down and go our separate ways. I guess it’s own own responsibility to recognise where we apply our efforts like our social-obsessed teenage selves did and even though it is not an easy skill to master, it is manageable. One of my lovely friends always has time for everyone, and reminded me that sometimes it can be good to give friendships a second, third, even fourth try because that is the right thing to do. And if it works, the rewards are endless.

However, this time, I believe that holding onto the past never has got anyone very far and I’ve recently done that in a bid to sympathise, to be a good person, to try and keep a crumbling bridge from crashing down, and to protect the other person and myself from hurt. But in all honestly, it has, instead, dragged it out, letting the bridge to just implode from the pressure of the unhealthy friendship.

*sigh* life happens.

Yet it’s not what falls apart that defines us and this doesn’t mean that adulthood is the doom of friendship and happiness! Although it can be a real struggle and there isn’t any guidebook telling us what to do or how to balance anything. As my godmother reminds me, some friendships are put on the “back-burner” but depending on circumstances can be rekindled at a moments notice. Just to make life even more complicated! 😀

So, I can’t agree with Man Repeller more:

This does not mean giving up. I have a lot of cards sitting on my dresser that I intend to mail once I finally buy stamps; there are a few friendships that I cracked and want to repair. At the same time, I have faith that certain sisterhoods [and brotherhoods] are built to withstand periods of not-so-good friendship, and when they do, I will thank those enduring souls for their patience, send magnificent bouquets of flowers and be prepared to reciprocate.

❤ Xo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2vBLd5Egnk – Scared to be lonely.

good things come to those who wait: growing up

It has been a running theme lately of people questioning the ‘quarter-life crisis’ and reviewing their lives by the achievements of others and themselves. Or, suddenly life had decided to take a U-turn and it turns out that maybe what you had planned isn’t actually what you want. Life is funny like that – well, if we don’t laugh, we cry so let’s assume it’s hilarious – and it’s rollercoaster tendencies always like to add a loop-de-loop or a corkscrew without warning. I’ve always wondered whether choosing to do a masters degree was a good idea. In the elongated winter nights, in a new city in which I was finding it hard to become accustomed, I thought of the other choices my friends had taken, questioned why continue in this world of studying when I could have a salary and go on holiday…

Yet, the fact that I love Asian culture, society, business has meant that I stuck it out to now; and amazingly the end is suddenly galloping toward me without hesitation. My dissertation is in scraps as I’ve changed my question three times (if I had had it my way, probably over twenty times) but I know that by the deadline in two weeks time there will be something resembling a dissertation proposal on my supervisors desk. Soon enough, come September, I will have written a 15,000 word document on South Korean women and business! Of which requires constant use of google translate for statistics and data than I ever (stupidly) anticipated…

and that’s my twenty longs years of education complete. 🤣

Of my friends: one will return to university to study to be a certified architect, one will have decided whether the career choice she made is what she wants or whether becoming a marine biologist is a better fit, one who every time I see him has a new plan built on the last (teaching, a PhD, a masters) but it’s all focused on what he is driven to do, one who, even though he didn’t know what he wanted to do, changed his job because he disliked what he did and now loves life… I could go on. 

What I’m trying to say is that although at times we feel we’re walking the wrong direction on our journey of life or we find ourselves second-guessing choices – (life path big or whether you want to eat toast or cereal in the morning), that’s part of growing up into the big wide world. If the fairytales and stories of our childhood taught us anything, for example Mulan or Jasmine from Aladdin, it’s that in the face of adversity we do what we choose to do because deep down, it’s right. If we don’t feel that in our daily lives, it’s up to us to make that change. This takes time, sometimes an act of bravery either from ourselves or someone else: such as Mulan choosing to protect her father, or Aladdin to show Jasmine life outside the box. (Okay, I know they are stories and genies and dragons were involved but it’s all the same). 

Our non-Disney princess-and-prince-selves  bravery is shown by making choices every day without seeing ourselves in the shadows of others. This confusion, worry, and fear that we’re not good enough, nay, that we’ve not achieved what our peers have can be perceived as a “quarter life crisis”. Yet, you’re not in one. You’ve got education, you’ve got family, you’ve got friends and by golly; you’ve got you

It’s not easy, I know. The lemons life gives us can be a bit too sour! But hey, mix them with sugar of all the good things and bad together, and hey presto!  Life is sweet. 

With that, I’m off to pray for a dissertation epiphany… sometimes life is like walking down a set of stairs, other times it’s a hike up when you wished you’d taken the lift. 🤗

Lots of love,

Xo.  

Wrocław in 48 hours.

As a mid-semester “break” three friends and I decided to take a trip outside the UK, giving ourselves the challenge of going for a cheap weekend away to escape the repetitive student lifestyle of sleeping, eating and studying (or trying to).

 As a mid-semester “break”, three friends and I decided to take a trip outside the UK, giving ourselves the challenge of going for a cheap weekend away to escape the repetitive student lifestyle of sleeping, eating and studying. Searching on google flights, we found three places that were the cheapest = Copenhagen [Denmark], Poznań [Poland] and Wrocław [Poland].

Continue reading “Wrocław in 48 hours.”

it’s christmas jumper time! an aussie and brit tale…

it’s christmas jumper time! an aussie and brit tale…

So, on the Christmas calendar of 121 (the house hehe): Monday was the big day.

Although our plans to go to Chatsworth or leave Nottingham for the day were ruined by the ominous weather forecasts of rain and dark weather. We had a busy day preparing and organising for the massive Christmas dinner at Danny’s house with the rest of his five housemates and two other guests! After a lazy morning, we headed to Lidl and Sainsburys to purchase all the goodies that go with a Traditional British Christmas meal.

The shopping list included both a chicken and shoulder of pork, brussel sprouts (ergh), german mulled wine (yay), yorkshire puddings, bucks fizz (another yay) and many more things. It reminds me of when I was in Madrid during the run up to Christmas in 2014. The British, compared, seem to prize many more possessions at the dinner table than other cultures. We have Christmas crackers with the cheesy jokes and colourful hats. It is possible that this is just my family and I who “go all out” with the decorations but I love all the Christmas paraphernalia! Paperchains that hang from the ceilings, Christmas tree laden with lights and baubles, tinsel hung everywhere – even in my hair… in this house we also put on a Christmas table cloth and a robin-decorated napkins too! 

Upon return we set to re-arrange the lounge and the afternoon hours blurred together. By 7pm, in our fantastic Christmas jumpers and tinsel in our hair, we were just about ready to tuck into the feast. 

And a feast it was. We even managed to have a Christmas pudding on fire at the end! 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am so lucky and grateful to the real tenants of 121. Nichola, Connor, Karmen, Bety (& Danny) have been so inclusive and welcoming to me at the house. They are another reason why Nottingham feels like my home and how lucky I am to know them all. Thank you guys (and Desmond) for having both Lisa and I at the Christmas dinner. 

(And for letting us put up the tree in late November, ❤ ) 

All that’s left for me to say is…

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here’s to a New Year and a brilliant 2017. It’s going to be a good one.

Xo.

“an aussie is coming to town” (sang in the tune of a famous christmas song)

On January 21st 2015, I woke up in a new bed in unfamiliar surroundings of the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus in China. Having travelled across the international date line from Calgary, the fifteen hour time difference was definitely playing with my mind. Cold and hungry, I headed out to walk around the campus and search for food. As it was 6am, I had to wait a little while before the canteens came to life.

Once I had managed to orient and feed myself… I headed back to my accommodation building to find an Australian girl trying to connect to the wifi in the lobby. (We didn’t have wifi in our rooms… bit of a typical first world problem these days!)

Little did I know that our small talk and introductions would turn into a friendship and to having an awesome travel buddy. Lisa and I parted ways in the ShiJiaZhuang (石家庄) Train Station after travelling and literally living out of each others pockets for three weeks. 

Now, 1 year, 5 months, and 24 days later… on December 10th 2016 at a train station on the other side of the world in Nottingham… Lisa is on her way. 

waiting on the nottingham train station walkway
waiting on the nottingham train station walkway for lisa’s train to pull in

Of course, it never quite plays out like a movie scene does. Danny and I arrived in plenty of time to see her off the train… to manage to miss her and spend the next seven minutes ploughing up and down the station to find her. Only having a selfie sent in those few minutes as evidence that Lisa had arrived in the right place. Eventually, finally looking like a movie scene, we ran to each other. 

(I’m such a romantic I know.)

We headed into town to show Lisa the centre of Nottingham. We were also on a quest to find cool Christmas jumpers as neither Lisa or I had ever owned one. Alas, three hours and three slightly exhausted people later, we still hadn’t been successful. Primark was sold out except for “you can jingle my bells” jumpers and it was surprising how so few shops were selling them! We didn’t want the pretty Christmas jumpers, we wanted the bold ones that look outrageously but perfectly festive. 

So, it was time for tea.

And we did exactly that!

15595910_10153840095601706_163887041_o
Afternoon Tea at The Larder

We went for afternoon tea at a place called The Larder in Hockley. The tea selection was a little odd but exotic. I chose a chamomile as they had no green tea, Danny went for Earl Grey and Lisa had Indian Spiced Chai. Although the service was a little slow, the tower of food arrived soon enough. We had four sandwiches each, a selection of cakes and some scones. Half way through tier two of the three towering before us… we felt stuffed! It was a good place with a “fancy” vibe and we had done something British, yay! 

During our lunch, Danny’s housemate Bety had managed to successfully find the type of Christmas jumpers we were looking for in about ten minutes. They were in some of the cheaper clothes shops in Broadmarsh and had huge wonderful reindeers on them! We bought one each and decided to head back to the house for a few hours before a Revived Gospel Concert that evening which two housemates, Nichola and Connor, were participating in.

It was a University of Nottingham Gospel Choir that performed and was held at Lenton Methodist Church. My first impression was… it was a warm building! YAY. After a childhood of freezing village churches, I was happy to not be shivering in the second row.

get that gospel on!

Nichola performed a really great solo at the beginning and Connor was part of the band on bass the entire evening. I’m so glad we went because I miss those choir days and it was such a wonderful atmosphere. 

With that, we headed home, and soon enough happily got into bed. Time for a lie in methinks. 

Xo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

reunion with a childhood friend #1: Nottingham

I can definitely say that life is never boring. This Saturday, the 8th October, Lucy arrived at around 14:10 at Sheffield station with seven months worth of belongings encased in two suitcases (one was humongous, one was small) accompanied by a handbag and laptop bag! The image reminded me of the many adventures lugging all sorts and types of luggage across the world. Magically, this large load fit into the Seat Mii’s little boot and off we went to show Lucy the sights of Sheffield.

Danny and I had googled the ‘top ten things to do in Sheffield’ on TripAdvisor. If I’m honest… there ain’t much? We settled on the Botanical Gardens towards the west of the city and managed to find a little car parking space (for free) just outside the south entrance. As we pulled our jackets tighter to our chests as we stepped out into the cold breeze, we headed up into the garden grounds expecting to see plants, plants and more plants. It was smaller than we expected but has many winding paths and secluded grassy areas where people were sitting and chatting, playing frisbee, gathering together for meetings, etc. We popped into the cafe to get some water and ended up sitting down for a cuppa in the bright greenhouse. Once watered and energised, we walked around the gardens and saw a record number of squirrels prancing around burying and finding chestnut and other nuts for winter. Autumn is my favourite season (and another reason why I love my Chinese name 静秋 (which means quiet autumn)).

The colours of the leaves on the trees, the bright blue skies and plummeting temperatures that make a good countryside walk be extra rewarding. The hot drinks that feel like they warm our souls as we walk from lectures to home or see a friend. My new craze and obsession are mochas. I never thought I’d be one to drink coffee as I don’t even like tea… but I’ve crossed the line. Although I can’t handle strong mochas, I have converted. (my insta definitely backs this up as most of the recent photos feature some cup of coffee from somewhere!)

Once we had been on our autumnal stroll we returned to the car and headed into the centre of town to show Lucy the centre of the city: the Peace Gardens, the Town and City Halls, the Peace Gardens, the Winter Gardens and… a recently renovated McDonald’s.

Good tour? I’m glad you agree.

As it was a Saturday night, it was not a time to go to bed early. Instead, we ate dinner at home then crossed the road from my house to go to the Blake Hotel for a drink and to play board games. Due to popular demand of the five of us, my housemates Kate and Corentin joined us, the game ‘Cards of Humanity’ was chosen (against my will) as the first game. It is not a game for the faint-hearted and Kate won 😀 The next game was Taboo which Kate also won. 11:30pm rolled around and we called it a night. Although Kate and Corentin stayed up to watch Zoolander… the rest of us only lasted half the film before retiring to bed.

On Sunday we headed down to Nottingham as I wanted to show Lucy where I’ve spent the past four years of my life and coincidentally it was the last day of the Goose Fair. We parked at Danny’s and Lucy and I headed into the city to have lunch at a fantastic burger place called Annie’s Burger Shack.

Once stufffffed with curly fries and delicious burgers we wandered around the centre and managed to snap a picture of two very British things = a red post box and red telephone box. As Lucy is technically British as she was born here before she moved to the land of Australia at the little age of eight, it was absolutely necessary that she have a photo taken!

From there we headed up to the Fair to the north of the city centre at a massive football pitch/park/grassland called Forest Fields. The place was buzzing. The sounds of rides, the workers on the stalls shouting out prizes and other fun things to do, the lights and pounding pop music from the bumper cars and fast paced small roller coasters. Lucy and I braved the massive swing that goes at least fifty foot into the air (eeeekkk!) and then wandered the fair for the next hour. 

We joined the Nottingham University’s Contemporary China Society (of which Danny is the President) and went back into the centre of town to 200 degrees for a coffee and a chat. By six o’clock we were talked out and ready to head home. Lucy and I drove back up to Sheffield and watched Edward Scissorhands before heading to sleep.

It’s amazing how short weekends are these days…

Xo.

Ps. if you’re curious, google a ‘drop bear’ = it’s a bit for five-minute entertainment!