The best gift to give this Christmas

Since it’s already December, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about Christmas gifts. If you are like me, you might not have a ton of money to spend on gifts this year but if you still want to give the people you care about something, there is only one thing worth spending money on:

BOOKS!

I think books can be some of the greatest gifts you can give. They are not just paper with words on it. They can be experiences, knowledge, or even a ticket to another dimension. If you read the right book it can change your life.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here is a list of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books.

“Quiet” by Susan Cain

Our lives are highly determined by where on the introvert/extrovert scale we land. It dictates how we interact with people, how we think, create new things, and recharge after a long day. Therefore, in my opinion, understanding the differenced between being an introvert or an extrovert is fundamental to living a happier life, especially if you are more on the introverted side.

I’m an introvert myself, and before I read this book I honestly thought something was wrong with me. I didn’t relate to people the same way my chatty best friend did, and I honestly disliked parties. Reading this book answered so many questions for me that I honestly cried tears of happiness when I finished it. For anyone who has not read this book yet, I highly recommend it.

Where to get the book:  Bookdepository | Amazon UK | Kindle

“Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

This a modern tale of good and evil. Victor and Eli, both brilliant outcasts, bond over a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveal an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, the lines between good and evil have blurred, and Victor and Eli face the past and each other once again.

This is definitely one of those books where you stay up until 3 am on a work/school night because there is no way you can put it down. The story has so many new and fresh elements, its characters are so human and flawed that you can’t really predict where it’s going to go. Pick it up and experience the roller coaster of emotions for yourself.

Where to get the book:  Bookdepository | Amazon UK | Kindle

“The gifts of imperfection” by Brene Brown

I’m a huge fan of Brene Brown. Ever since I saw her first TED Talk, I was fascinated by her research and her work ethics. This book is one of her first. It’s short but it delivers so many great insights about how to let go the hunt for perfection and instead enjoy life as the person you are, not the person you think you should be.

In its essence, this book is a big permission slip to stop caring about looking good in the eyes of people who don’t really care about you. Even though this is a short book, I would advise setting aside some time to read it because you will be going back and rereading every sentence in order to soak up all the knowledge that she is giving in this book.

Where to get the book:  Bookdepository | Amazon UK | Kindle

“The first fifteen years lives of Harry August” by Claire North

This is a story about Harry August. Harry is born, he lives a fairly good life, and he dies. By then he is born again. And again. And again. And then twelve more times, meanwhile he keeps the memories from all of his previous lives. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow. This book is a masterpiece that has to be experienced!

Where to get the book:  Bookdepository | Amazon UK | Kindle

“I’ll give you the sun” by Jandy Nelson

Warming! This one is a real tear-jerker. At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways. This story is told from two perspectives – Noah counts down from the past, while Jude is in the present telling her story backward. When their narratives meet you better have a box of tissues next to you!

Where to get the book:  Bookdepository | Amazon UK | Kindle

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Week 1: Staying motivated

This week has been a roller coaster of finding and losing motivation and being honest both with myself and my boyfriend. There are two lessons I learned this week that I wanted to share.

Motivation is hard to find

I know that a week is not a long time. It took me much longer to accumulate this debt, why would it take me shorter to get out of it? But still, this week I struggled a lot with motivation. One of the reasons was my work. I run my own freelance writing business, which I started 1.5 years ago. Given the fact that I had no writing education or experience, I’m doing pretty well. But in the light of my debt, I’m struggling to celebrate my victories because my income is not enough to pay back all my debt and live a comfortable life.

There is a constant feeling of not being good enough that hands over me. Not getting good enough clients, not getting paid enough per article, not doing anything to promote my self. All of those things wipe out any achievements at the end of the day.

Being a lone wolf is not glamorous

I’m also a loner, meaning I don’t share the hard stuff with people around me. Not my boyfriend, not my best friend, and especially not my mom. I don’t want to bother them but at the end of the day, I only make it worse for myself, because I hurt them by not sharing the difficult aspects of my life.

Also, when I’m alone with my problems I feel like I have a much better handle on them, which cannot be further away from the truth. Always share with the people you love. Don’t keep it inside you, thinking that you can handle it. I learned it the hard way this week.

My boyfriend was somewhat aware of my financial and professional situation but I kept so many small details from him because I was ashamed to share what I viewed as my shortcomings, that in the end it all kind of exploded. It was not a proud moment for me but the way he listened and supported me, without any judgment actually wiped away some of that shame I was carrying around.

So, if you are trying to deal with your problems alone – don’t. Tell someone who loves you. They will be there to help.

 

Until next time
– M

The two ingredients of success

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about success. I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey a lot (again) as well as binging on other types of content to keep my pumped to achieve my goals. What I’ve come to realize is no revolutionary idea. It’s something everybody knows.

In order to succeed in something, you need consistency over a long period of time and the right tools. 

That is it. If you want to save money, you need to be putting away some every month. You also need to learn about investing that money so it can work for you instead of declining in value in a standard bank account. For that, you need some tools, like books, podcasts, and courses, that can teach you how the market works.

If you don’t have access to those tools or don’t know they exist in the first place, your chances of success are significantly smaller. Sure, you can be smart and figure it on your own, but it will take longer time than necessary. For me, knowing what I know now (aka in the recent weeks) about money give me much more confidence that I will make it because the tools provide a roadmap.

The tools alone don’t matter. You have to choose to use them.

And you have to do it every day for a longer time than you are comfortable with.

That’s it. I don’t have any speech that will tell you how I overcame laziness and reached my goals. I’m still a lazy person who would rather sit around and dream about the results (at least so far in life). But I feel like that realization helped me understand that my successes and failures are my to earn. Whether I succeed or fail is up to me, and that is a very liberating feeling.

Until next time.
– M

 

Week 0: looking devil in the eye

This has been a tough week. The truth is, I am in debt and I have no money. I am in my first year of my freelance writing business but I have little to show for because I have been lazy.

I have been afraid of hard work, scared to not have a work-life balance to a point where I was taking too many breaks and not doing enough work. Meanwhile, my wonderful boyfriend has been supporting me by paying our rent and pretty much every time we went out to eat. That has brought on an extreme amount of shame because I am letting him down.

So, this week, as I was binging on Dave Ramsey’s videos about getting out of debt, I set up a downpayment plan for all my debt. What starred back at me from the Google Sheet was shocking. In my head, somewhere in the region of “Hopeless dreams”, I thought that I would achieve financial freedom, and be able to take care of my family’s finances as well.

Spoiler: I was a big fool.

I had months ahead of me paying down a credit card loan and decades of student loan payments. Achieving financial freedom is almost as realistic as meeting a unicorn. In addition, I was doing nothing to increase my income, grow my freelance business, and proactively get out of debt.

I realized that my dreams of financial freedom were never going to come true if I didn’t start being intentional about my financial life.

This brings me here, to this blog. Since I have zero internal motivation, this blog is now my accountability partner. It’s a place where I will have to report my progress about my freelance business, passive income journey, debt payments, and other things that I discover as time passes.

I’m going to be honest. This. Is. Freaking. Scary. I’m not the kind of person who talks about her problems. I bottle everything up and try (and fail) to solve it on my own. But writing this blog will force me to do the exact opposite.

I can’t say I look forward to all of it.
Until next week.

– M

What you can learn from Arianna Huffington

what-you-can-learn-from-Arianna-Huffington

In her book “Thrive” Arianna not only asks the question “What is a good life?”, but she also does a pretty good job at answering it. Her personal experience with stress-related health issues and background as a journalist makes her a credible source of information. I think she brings in the right kind of balance between scientific research and her own opinions and experiences to support the answer to a good and balanced life.

If you are not much of a reader or you simply don’t have time to read, but still want to reap the benefits of Arianna’s wisdom, this blog post is a useful summary.  I hope you find it helpful.

How NOT to thrive in life

After finishing the book, I think Arianna just spent 342 pages saying “Get off you god damn phone”. Don’t get me wrong. I think it was done well and (almost) every page was necessary to convey that message.

She does a phenomenal job at addressing how fast our world has become and how it essentially puts stress on our well-being, health, relationships, and perception of our surroundings. In the four sections of the book, well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving, Arianna keeps coming back to the same point: we are too connected, too wired up to the virtual world, both during work and leisure time.

We are losing sleep because of the light of our screens. At work, we are under more stress than ever because we are always just a swipe away from answering an email or taking a call, and that is expected of us. When we spend time with friends, family or our partners, we are losing out on important moments of connection because our eyes are paying attention to a screen rather than our loved one’s eyes.

Essentially, we are told that we are more connected than ever, yet real life connections are becoming increasingly difficult for many, and this has an effect on our quality of life.

How to thrive in life

This is not news. We know all of those things, and yet little is done to make a change. I think this is why people like Arianna are able to write those books and sell them – humans simply need to be told something many times before it registers for good.

So. Let’s come back to the main question of this blog post: how do you actually live a good life?

You disconnect.

Simply put down your phone, shut down your computer, hug your partner, visit your family, go for a walk outside, read an actual book, go for a swim, volunteer in you local animal shelter.

The list goes on. The answer to getting your life back is simple, but also hard, because after so much time on our phones and computers our brains are like addicts – they just want more of what is good. The purpose of books like Arianna’s “Thrive” is to give us some tools we can use on the long and hard recovering from connectivity addiction.

So, pick one offline activity or pick many. The choice is yours. Just don’t Instagram it while you are doing it.