Quotations vs Quotes, Integrity and Inspiration

When I was at Iowa State University, I had an English Literature professor who was very adamant about the fact that the word ‘quote’ should not be used interchangeably with the word ‘quotation’. ‘Quote’, as a noun, traditionally refers to giving someone an estimated price for a service, whereas ‘quotation’, as a noun, refers to a group of words or a phrase repeated by someone else other than the original speaker/author.

Hold onto your hats, there is a point to all this I promise…

I always found his commitment to not be influenced by the status quo inspiring, even if it was just making the effort to use a longer, less convenient word in his lectures and essays. I felt that kind of integrity was a really special form of personal protest that preserves and protects language in a way that you rarely see nowadays. On the other hand, he is an English professor, so perhaps it is in his blood to do so. Nevertheless, I have tried to do right by him in my small way and use language purposefully and properly ever since. I dedicate today’s blog post to him.

I have always loved words, books, stories and yes, quotations, hence why I decided to study English Literature for my degree. My passion for quotations is one that I share with my sister and parents too; we will often comment on lines in movies or books that we are particularly fond of and discuss them together. Sometimes I write down a quotation because it is just so #relatable, sometimes I write down the funny lines of dialogue that stick out in a movie or tv show, and sometimes I write down the lines of a favourite book because it makes me look at the world a little differently.

Today, I thought I would pass on a few of my favourite quotations in the hope that they will inspire you too and make you think about the power of words, and of course, integrity.

  1. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~ The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  2. “They’re human – they’ll find it. He who seeks, finds. He who wants strongly enough, gets.” ~ The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky
  3. “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?” ~ The Graduate by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham
  4. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” ~ The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” ~ Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  6. “I was full of a strange feeling, as if I were two people. One of them was Norma Jean from the orphanage who belonged to nobody. The other was someone whose name I didn’t know. But I knew where she belonged. She belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world.” ~ My Story by Marilyn Monroe
  7. “‘Money is like sex,’ I said. ‘It seems much more important when you don’t have any…’ ‘You talk like a writer,’ said François.” ~ Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  8. “The Dude abides.” ~ The Big Lebowski by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
  9. “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” ~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. “We can’t be everything to everyone and still be true to ourselves.” ~ The Crown (developed Peter Morgan, Season 3 written by Robert Lacey)
  11. “You write your own story with that body because if you don’t, someone else will.” ~ Tiny Pretty Things (created by Michael MacLennan)
  12. “What is it you think we are here for? I don’t mean our work, I mean as human beings? If it is not to have a care for one another, what is it? ~ The Serpent by Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay
  13. “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’” ~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  14. “The only people for me are the mad ones.” ~ On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  15. “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” ~ A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  16. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” ~ All About Eve by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  17. “Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.” ~ Remember by Christina Rossetti
  18. “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” ~ Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  19. “People believe whatever supports their world view.” ~ YOU (developed by Sera Gamble and Greg Belanti)
  20. “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.” Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson
  21. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” ~ The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  22. “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” ~ The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. “We’ll always have Paris.” ~ Casablanca by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch
  24. “I try all things, I achieve what I can.” Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  25. “I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many… somethings.” ~ You’ve Got Mail by Nora Ephron
  26. “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” ~ A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  27. “Some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed.” ~ Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  28. “Go sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.” ~ As Good As It Gets by Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks
  29. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~ The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  30. “I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it.” ~ Titanic by James Cameron
Image by Tumblr (via Pinterest)

Dedicated to my professor at Iowa State University: Sean Grass.

Further Reading:

5 Lessons I Learned from Re-Watching Sex and the City in Lockdown

“Welcome to the age of un-innocence. No one has breakfast at Tiffany’s and no one has affairs to remember.”

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex And The City

Like most women in their twenties (and thirties and forties!), I know enough about Sex and the City to merit a university dissertation on the subject, but I guess I’ll settle for a blog post. Nevertheless, in times where I find I need a little pick-me-up, I will return to the show that taught me so much about love, friendship, sex and relationships, to provide some clarity and comfort.

Re-watching the show during lockdown, however, was a different experience altogether that brought with it an onset of new lessons, insights and revelations. Here is what I learned from a couple of weeks of living vicariously through my favourite New York girls…

1. No topic is off the menu

Image via graziadaily.co.uk

In lockdown, when we were so terribly dining-out-deprived, it gave me such joy to feel like the fifth girl at the brunch table discussing Samantha’s latest conquest or sexual experimentation. “You can cancel my rice pudding…”

After a year of Zoom chats with my friends that were punctuated by dodgy Wi-Fi connections and terrible lighting, I have loved being able to indulge in fully uncensored catch-ups (and cocktails) once again these past few weeks, where everyone can appreciate the shoes I bought for the occasion. Speaking of…

2. Always dress up

Image via bustle.com

Part of the heartbreak of re-watching Sex and the City in lockdown was observing Costume Designer Patricia Field’s iconic fashion moments knowing that the only place I could dress up for was a trip to Tesco. Something I realised watching the show this time around was that Carrie’s experimental personal style was not only epic, but a lost artform in 2021.

Come June 21st – when the government plans to lift all remaining restrictions in the U.K. – I will be taking to my wardrobe with the vigour of Patricia Field and expressing myself through fashion, whatever the occasion. Whether it is lunch, theatre or a chilled dinner party, the effort is going up and the heels are going on. Frankly, I have done my time in tracksuits. Now, if we could just get the British weather to comply…

3. Say “yes” more

Image via graziamagazine.com

Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are not the type of girls to say “no” to fun. In fact, most of the time they are popping Champagne on the way to the fun, even if Miranda is rolling her eyes about it. Their ability to say “yes” to an assortment of parties, holidays, dates, job opportunities, and – of course – men, mean that they truly live their lives to the fullest. While sometimes this “yes” mentality leads to mistakes, they learn from them, and always have each other to pick up the pieces in the end.

Post-lockdown, I can imagine a lot of us will be taking the “yes” approach to life, even if it is just to remember how living in the moment feels again.

4. Romance is not corny, but classic

Image via Stylelist.com

In the Season Four Finale, Carrie takes Big on a carriage ride around Central Park before he moves to Napa; bringing old-fashioned romance back in a Big way. Just earlier in the episode, Carrie mocks Big for being “corny” when he asks her to dance to Moon River in his empty apartment. His response: “Nope. It’s classic.” Carrie and Big both realise that romance is not dead, so long as they both believe in it.

In 2021, where dating and ‘meet-cutes’ have been reduced to app form, it can be easy to write off romance as dead. In the rare moments where it does surface, we – like Carrie – might even tell ourselves it is “corny”, but I believe romance is as classic as a pair of Manolo Blahniks. And maybe, a post-lockdown world is actually the perfect place for us to take those first steps into romance, the classic way.

5. It is okay

Image via headoverfeels.com

Carrie Bradshaw is not a perfect character by any means. She is flawed and always evolving, like us! If you love Carrie like I do, it is probably in spite of all her drama, all her messiness and all her mistakes. Carrie makes us realise that it is okay if you are single and it is okay if you are not. It is also okay if your life looks different to how you imagined it would look at your age (spoiler: it always does).

You may have been hoping to come out of this lockdown with a novel written, a bikini body, a stack of money saved, but it is okay if none of those things actually happened. In a post-lockdown world, maybe there is something to be learned from Carrie in just accepting ourselves for who we are right now and seeing what happens next.

Oh, and in case you “couldn’t help but wonder”, I self-identify as a Carrie. I wrote a whole other blog post about why, but I guess it is something to do with the curly-haired-writer-type-living-in-the-city thing. But alas, still no Big in sight…

My April Round Up

I cannot believe that we are already winding down the final weekend of April, and that ‘it’s gonna be May’ in a mere few days. Is it me or does time seem to be flying by since the switch to Daylight Savings?

Either way, I have been feeling the good vibes this past month; the sunshine, the beautiful Spring Blossoms and, of course, being reunited with some old freedoms (courtesy of the U.K.’s roadmap out of lockdown).

Below, are some of the things that have kept me happy, hopeful and inspired this month. I hope you will find some enjoyment, comfort and brightness from my favourite things of the month of April. For the first time in a long time, it feels like the tide is starting to turn…

  1. My Story – In last week’s blog post, I wrote about this book; My Story by Marilyn Monroe is the actress’ unfinished autobiography that was written at the height of her fame. For most people, Marilyn Monroe was a sex symbol and still is. For me, she was an enigma and the pinnacle of that 1950s Hollywood era I have always been so drawn to. What the book so tragically captures is how perpetually misunderstood Marilyn was by men and women alike. She was a victim of her own ‘sexual vibrations’ that she was not even aware of; but what she wanted more than anything was to be an actress. This book is fantastic, the photographs are stunning and it all ends far too soon – during her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. I just wish I could read about her latter years from her point of view. Click here to buy yourself a copy!
  2. Succession – If you have watched this tv show, you will undoubtedly agree when I say that it is truly a must-watch. The premise is this: a wealthy family that owns one of the largest media conglomerates in the world contends with the tyrannical patriarch’s worsening health and his inability to choose a successor for the company from his four desperately eager children. The characters in this show are so superbly crafted that they make you not only like them, but grin enthusiastically when they reappear on screen, in spite of how utterly despicable they are. Succession will make you laugh out loud, cringe and probably feel a little queasy all within about 30 minutes of watching. Head to NowTV to watch now!
  3. Seeing Friends Again – The ‘me’ from 13 months ago would not believe the post-lockdown ‘me’ when I describe what a luxury it is to be able to see friends and loved ones again. It is true though; seeing friends this month has made me feel renewed. A few of my friends have birthdays in April and to be able to celebrate with them, chat face to face and raise a glass felt completely swell. I cannot wait to do more ‘normal’ things with them as the weather improves and we journey into the those long, lazy days of summer.
  4. Aperol Spritz – Speaking of, the season of Aperol Spritz is officially upon us. In truth, I am not sure if Aperol Spritz is as much of ‘a thing’ in other countries as it is here in the U.K. and, of course, in Italy, where the cocktail originated. If it is not, you must try this orange cocktail consisting of: Aperol, prosecco, soda and a slice of fresh orange. It basically tastes like a sun-stained Spring afternoon in a glass. If you fancy trying out a recipe at home instead of heading out to a bar just yet, I am going to try this recipe from ‘BBC Good Food’ within the coming days.
  5. 1950s Music – Inspired perhaps by reading Marilyn’s tales of 1940s and 1950s Hollywood, I have been seeped in nostalgia in terms of my music choices this month. On Spotify, I have been listening to the silky tones of Frank Sinatra, my forever crush Elvis Presley and the likes of Chuck Berry and Glenn Miller. Click here for 1950s Playlist I have been listening to. It is guaranteed to make you feel a little more classic on the inside.
  6. Vintage Handbags – I am forever grateful to have the most stylish mother on planet Earth. No really! Thankfully, she just so happens to be incredibly willing to pass down her precious designer handbags, rings and clothes to me and – it is true what they say – some things never go out of style. This month, I have been particularly obsessed with a vintage Gucci handbag that I am pretty much certain goes with every outfit. Nowadays, I think we all appreciate the past a little more than we used to and, as such, we are starting to shift our mentalities when it comes to consumerism. I know I am certainly looking to my Mum’s timeless classics for inspiration when it comes to my post-lockdown wardrobe.
  7. Dermatica – If you have not heard of the skincare brand Dermatica, you should definitely check it out. I have been trying out a personalised, prescription formula from Dermatica for the past two months and am noticing great results so far. Dermatica offers an online consultation whereby its dermatologists find out about your skin concerns, analyse your skin (based on photographs) and prescribe you a personalised treatment to target your specific skincare goals. Click here to head to the website and start your free trial. If you see results and would like to continue your treatment, use my promo code: GABR1 for 20% off your second month!
  8. Blogilates – I have been slowly but surely introducing some other exercises back into my morning workout routine. As much as I love yoga, I do recognise the importance of mixing up my workouts. I have been following Blogilates on YouTube for the better part of a decade, and this month, I have loved returning to her channel. She posts all sorts of Pilates videos including: music-based workout challenges, cardio and dance videos. Plus, her energy and sunny disposition are unparalleled! Click here to give her latest full body Pilates workout a try!
  9. Mank – You may have noticed a bit of a theme in this week’s blog post: Old Hollywood. This movie is an Oscar-contender that depicts the tale of Herman Mankiewicz, the screenwriter behind the classic “picture” Citizen Kane, and was shot entirely in Black & White. If you are a cinema aficionado like myself or simply want a different kind of movie to watch, Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried give exciting and nuanced performances that transport you seamlessly back into the Hollywoodland of the 1930s.
  10. TikTok Inspo – If you think TikTok is only for Gen Z, the only person you are limiting is yourself. Mums have earned enormous amounts of money, it has made celebrities out of ordinary teenagers and unemployed people have elevated their side-hustles through the app. When the pandemic hit last March I joined TikTok, and in May, I posted my first video. While I have not amassed a large following (yet!), I have truly grown to love it for the sheer creativity and freedom it brings me. It allows me to tap into my creativity, to stay connected to the world of acting (which are the majority of the videos that I post), and to find other exciting creators. Whatever you are interested in, the algorithm works in such an intelligent manner that you will be sure to find the content you crave after just your first use. If you try it, I’ll follow you!

I hope you enjoyed my April round up and let me know if you try, do, watch, read or listen to any of my favourite things above. I cannot wait for my favourite month of the year – May – to arrive and for all the delights it is sure to bring in tow.

None of the items, shows, films or books featured were gifted by the brands mentioned and I was not sponsored for this post. I have been offered a promo-code by Dermatica but they did not sponsor this post and this is not an advertisement. All opinions are my own.

Power Outage, Marilyn & A Moment Of Quiet

“I would try to cheer myself up with daydreams. I never dreamed of anyone loving me as I saw other children loved. That was too big a stretch for my imagination. I compromised by dreaming of my attracting someone’s attention (besides God), of having people look at me and say my name.”

Marilyn Monroe, My Story

While I feel as though I am hyper-aware of how heavily we all rely on technology, the full scale of this reliance was brought home to me this week when I experienced a power outage that lasted for about 50 minutes. During that time, my entire street was plunged into darkness, I was kicked out of a Zoom meeting and our dinner was left half-cooked. There was no Wi-Fi, no heating and no entertainment. It was just… quiet.

Over the past thirteen months we have all had to deal with a very divergent way of living, but we are beyond lucky to have experienced a pandemic in such a technologically developed world. Just 50 minutes without power had me at a loose end; wondering what I would do for dinner, how to communicate with my colleagues and how I would entertain myself. Then, I picked up a book: ‘My Story’ by Marilyn Monroe (with Ben Hecht).

My Story – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

I have always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe (formerly Norma Jean); the movie ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ is a favourite of mine and I even visited the orphanage where she grew up during a visit to Los Angeles. However, it was only recently that I realised she had written an autobiography. The Marilyn in this book is the antithesis of the enigma she created, the illustrious idea that Hollywood perpetuated of her. She is wise, open, ambitious, extraordinarily self-aware and loving, in spite of the traumatic events she experienced in her early years and childhood. She is mountains more than her sex symbol status or her embodiment of the American Dream.

Reading a chapter of this book during this very unique moment of quiet was not only interesting, but somewhat of a cleanse for a busy mind, a restless body and a wavering soul. I tend to read most evenings, but truly, there is something about reading when you know that there is nothing else you could do in that moment. With no distractions, the only thing that existed were those words and those pages. I was truly present, in the moment, in the full flux of a quiet and gorgeous seclusion.

Image via EnkiQuotes (Pinterest)

It might seem like an odd thing to write about, but I guess I realised this week that finding moments of respite over the past year has been trickier than some of us might like to admit. Sometimes, it has even felt impossible. For me, the 50 minute power outage brought solace and comfort to a part of myself that had felt a little neglected and in need of a time-out. Being at home a lot does not necessarily mean you are unplugged. In fact, with the constant swarm of news to stay on top of, social media apps to distract us, and new shows to watch, being at home can often feel like we are playing catch up.

Is it strange that a power outage made me feel a little more powerful? I was Norma Jean looking out at the RKO Studio tower from the window of the orphanage, daydreaming of something wonderful in a blissful moment of quiet.

The Lockdown Lessons

“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”

The Lower Depths, Maxim Gorky

Perhaps it has something to do with reading Gorky’s play The Lower Depths and the worldly lessons he communicates, but as we draw towards the end of lockdown restrictions in the U.K., I have been reflecting on what this past year has taught me. The previously quotidian activities of dining out with friends, going to the cinema or getting our hair done will all feel novel again. Most of us have not been able to do any of those things for over four months, and for those who have been shielding, it may have been over a year!

Whether you are feeling anxious about heading back into the world again, excited or an amalgamation of emotions, there is certainly a lot that we can take from lockdown into the next chapters of our lives.

Coffee in the park – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

Below are some of the lessons that I have learned from a year of lockdowns, challenges and being apart from those I love:

  1. Be Kind – Whether it was sending daily gifs to your sister on Whatsapp, having wine nights on Zoom with your uni friends or chatting to your neighbour who lives alone from an open window, checking in on people has been essential during the past twelve months. The COVID- 19 crisis and the subsequent lockdowns have taken an enormous toll on people’s mental health. Throughout it all what has kept us going is each other: our care, our compassion and our kindness. If you take one thing from lockdown out into the world with you, let it be those qualities. They will help us to make the world a less frightening place to be again.
  2. Social Media Can Be Amazing – It has not been lost on me how incredibly lucky we are to have gone through the pandemic in 2020-2021, with technology by our side and most likely, in the palm of our hands. When the Spanish Flu took place, or the plague that punctuates much of Shakespeare’s work, there was no way to communicate with friends and no viral Tik Toks to keep the population entertained. Certainly, in the past year, social media has proven itself to be an effective tool for igniting movements and social change; from the Black Lives Matter protests to highlighting issues of women’s safety; as well as a space to get creative and have fun. If used in the right way, social media can be a vehicle, rather than another vice that we created for ourselves.
  3. Your World Is Enough – As much as I adore the buzz of busy city life, I admit that for large periods of lockdown, I have taken a huge amount of pleasure in being home with nowhere else to go. Finding time to read more, watching movies that have been on my list for years and baking Nigella recipes that I would never have ordinarily tried, has all been a bit of revelation to be honest. In pre-pandemic life, we used to get so caught up in consuming, hustling and #FOMO, that we forgot to appreciate the little things we already had at our disposal. Now, as we begin to head out into society again, we should remember that our own little world is sometimes enough too.
  4. Art Keeps You Sane – All industries have undoubtedly suffered during the pandemic, but the arts – for the most part – cannot be done from home. Theatre, cinema, and stand-up comedy rely on the people in the space, at that moment, and the audiences that come to be entertained. Therefore, artists have felt the need to speak out and draw government attention to their situation because there is a worry that some theatres and cinemas may simply never recover. Lest we forget how we collectively leant on The Queen’s Gambit, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Taylor Swift’s Folklore and myriad other art-forms to keep us sane. The least we can do is appreciate what art gave to us during lockdown and support the arts where we can in a post-pandemic society.
  5. Humans Are Resilient, But We Can Do Better – Previously, I think many in my generation felt like we wanted to “live through something” to quote Christine from Lady Bird. For years, we have romanticised world wars, the 60s, the 70s, Flower Power, the fight for feminism and the Civil Rights Movement. We believed that we had life a little too easy and if we were not tested in the ways that previous generations were, how could we possibly know what we were capable of? Naturally, as soon as COVID hit, the curtain was pulled back on our naivety, regret sunk in and we began to understand the unabridged reality of ‘living through something’. We learned we are stronger than we appear, we learned that our actions have power and we learned that we are exceedingly resilient. Ultimately though, we learned that we need to do better and change our ways in order to preserve a liveable planet for ourselves and the natural world.

As we return to the playground we call society, one final thought comes to mind: linger…

Linger poem – Image via Melinda Yeoh

Transient State of Mind

This week I saw a photo on Instagram of volunteers removing flowers and tributes to Sarah Everard at the bandstand in Clapham Common, a mere couple of weeks after her remains were found. Although plans have been made for a permanent memorial, it got me thinking about how quick we are to move on from tragedy, injustice and grief nowadays.

Is it a form of self-preservation that allows us to be so transient about things that clearly matter so much to us? While I believe it is impossible to feel the personal weight of grief that friends and family may feel in this instance, many of us experienced a profound and emotional reaction to what happened to Sarah, as we did with George Floyd’s death. Why then are we able to stop posting on Instagram, switch off the news and change the subject, when we know that to do so only helps the perpetrators of misogyny and racism get away with these atrocities?

Perhaps it is because allowing ourselves to feel the full weight of it all would be too crushing. Would we still be able to get out of bed every morning if we fully committed ourselves to doing our part to challenge and dismantle injustice? To fully dedicate oneself to change is not only uncomfortable, but an emotional minefield. Maybe we are not all strong enough for it? The current mental health crisis would suggest this to be true.

Sarah Everard Tributes – Image via The Guardian

However, if the reason we take news detoxes, rewatch our favourite sitcoms and order comfort food is to preserve that ‘lightness of being’ that we used to feel as kids; when life’s biggest concerns were getting our homework done in time to watch Saved By The Bell, we may need to re-think. The problem with this logic – and that ‘lightness of being’ – is that staying out of politics is an action of privilege. Not only that, but it leaves those who are most vulnerable, (women, women of colour, trans women of colour and the LGBTQ+ community) whose very existence is deemed to be a political threat, alone in the darkness to fend for themselves.

I write all this because I recognise these unfavourable behaviours in myself, not just in others. I care a lot about social reform and human rights, but admittedly, find it difficult to sustain the levels of observation, courage and delicacy that are required of me everyday in order to challenge behaviour, be an ally and take meaningful action. I am a pretty passionate person when you get me talking on a subject that I believe in – I call it my “Portuguese Passion” but regardless – sometimes it tires me out to take on every remark that is problematic, unfair or perpetuates stereotypes.

It is for this reason that I so deeply admire activists who are relentless and disarming in striving for change. People like Greta Thunberg, Stacey Abrams, Jane Fonda, Scarlett Curtis, Gloria Steinem and Patrisse Cullors, who have committed their entire existence to causes that will make life better for all of us. They inspire me to have the tricky conversations I do not want to have, to challenge the microaggressions I witness and to risk my popularity (or ego) for the sake of something far more essential.

Stacey Abrams – Image via sayingimages.com

As I observed how bare the bandstand looked in the photo where Sarah’s flowers and signs once lay, I wondered how many of us truly keep the needle moving forward in our every day lives, and if we do, is it even enough? Transience, surely, is not the way we will find out.

My March Must-Haves

As of last weekend, it is officially Spring and as of Midnight last night, I’m officially jet-lagged… Well, perhaps jet-lagged is a touch hyperbolic, but it is certainly amazing how the clocks going forward by just one hour can cause such a massive impact on my mood and how much I am able to achieve in a day. Give me 24 hours though and I’ll get used to it.

Now that March is coming to a close, here in the U.K, we are getting increasingly closer to seeing friends again, shops and restaurants opening up and – for the theatre kids and cinefiles amongst us – entertainment establishments reopening. Hurray!

Below, are some of the things that have kept me busy, energetic and feeling inspired over the past month. I hope these things can help you find some solace, inspiration and learnings as we arrive at – what I hope will be – the home stretch of this marathon we call lockdown #3.

  1. My So Called Life – For some time, I have been trying to find a place to watch My So Called Life, which is the ’90s coming of age drama that propelled Jared Leto into stardom as teen heartthrob Jordan Catalano. Unfortunately, in the U.K., the show is not available to watch on streaming platforms, so I took matters into my own hands and ordered the DVD box set. Yes, I still watch DVDs… and yes, it was worth it! It was so enlightening to watch a show created before my time that put the framework in place for many of the teen dramas that came after it, touching on issues such as: sexuality, drugs, ageing, domestic abuse, and literacy.
  2. The Last Tycoon – I am a huge F. Scott Fitzgerald fan and a friend of mine – knowing this and sharing my passion for his work – was kind enough to send me The Last Tycoon to read. Shoutout Rebel, if you’re reading! The Last Tycoon is the novel Fitzgerald was writing at the time of his death when he died of a heart attack in Hollywood at just 44 years old. In the Penguin Hardback copy, you can read the unfinished manuscript, as well as Fitzgerald’s notes detailing his story and character outlines and plans. Although, it is wildly tragic that this book remains unfinished, there is so much beauty, wonder and heartbreak in the chapters Fitzgerald does give us of The Last Tycoon. If you are fascinated by the magic of Hollywood in the 1930s and fancy taking a dive into some mesmerising characters, this is the book for you!
  3. San Pellegrino – I grew up not liking fizzy drinks – a preference I am more than content with, as they are proven to be very bad for our health – however, over the past couple of weeks I have been picking up a sparkling water every now and again. San Pellegrino feels like a step up from still water, and the carbonation seems to fill me up more than still water. There are many conflicting perspectives online as to whether sparkling water is actually beneficial for digestion or not, so feel free to do your research, but for me, I have found it to be very helpful when my stomach feels a little upset, bloated or I am experiencing nausea. A health hack of the simplest order!
  4. Operation Varsity Blues – I recently watched Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admission Scandal and I think it is something everyone should watch and be aware of. The documentary is centred around a series of re-enactments and interviews detailing the college admissions scandal that dominated headlines in early 2019. Operation Varsity Blues highlights the greed and entitlement at play in America’s wealthiest families that paid their children’s admission into top universities. It also discusses the intense – not exclusively American – obsession and elitism surrounding top universities and the pressures teenagers face today; a really thought-provoking watch.
  5. Ouai Curl Crème – For some time now, I have been on a mission to embrace my naturally curly hair and improve my hair health. I dyed my hair back to my natural dark brown last summer after a stint of balayage, and since, have used minimal heat on it. One thing I have been searching for though, is a low-maintenance styling product to help tame frizz and keep my curls soft and hydrated. I have tried many, but so far, I have not found a product as effective as Ouai Curl Crème. I have been using this product for a few weeks and it is so effective for loosening my 2c/3a curls into waves and fighting pesky frizz. In doing so, it has cut my getting ready time by half! I love it!
  6. Justice – Ah, the Biebs has done it again! Justin Bieber’s latest album Justice landed last Friday and it has really matched my mood and thoughts as of late. As the album title suggests, this record explores the idea of what justice means to Justin but also, to those of us listening to the album. To give you an idea, Justin even includes parts of Martin Luther King Jr’s celebrated speeches to bring home the idea of standing up for what you believe in. It is a powerful message. Some of my favourite tracks so far include: Peaches, Unstable and Anyone (Trigger Warning: this song might break your heart a bit). Check out the album on Spotify here!
  7. Fajitas – Last night, at a loss about what to eat and bored of our typical lockdown menu, I had a flash of inspiration in suggesting the easy-to-make meal that is fajitas. With the help of my good friends at Old Del Paso, we made some chicken fajitas in under 15 minutes and after not having eaten them in such a long time, it felt like a real luxury. I just wish I had thought ahead to buy Margaritas too…
  8. 5 Minute Meditations – Since January, I have been implementing 20-30 minute yoga sessions into my morning routine and, this month, I have followed it up by a quick 5 minute meditation. Sometimes, I am put off practising meditation because I think that I need to get up 30 minutes earlier to slot it into my morning. However, this is not the case. You can easily receive the benefits of relaxation, focus and mental clarity that meditation brings by simply adding a five minute meditation to your morning routine. I have built a YouTube playlist with the videos I am currently using for my practises, and will be adding to it as I discover more. Click here to check it out!
  9. Sentimental In The City – My favourite Exeter alumna and writer Dolly Alderton has been chatting to Caroline O’Donoghue in this new podcast miniseries Sentimental In The City that discusses Sex And The City “for the great American novel it truly is”… their words not mine, although I am inclined to agree. A couple of weeks ago, suffering from a serious tv hangover following My So Called Life, I decided to go back and re-watch one of my favourite shows of all time: Sex And The City. It seemed like the stars aligned then when a friend of mine recommended this podcast to me. It is truly one for the OG fans. Find it here or wherever you stream your podcasts!
  10. Vogue – This one is probably quite unsurprising if you know me or have read any previous posts. I find nothing more relaxing than perusing the pages of Vogue magazine on a sun-drenched Saturday morning. The April edition was particularly fabulous to read through this month with Vogue’s annual Awards-Season Portfolio (my favourite!) that pays homage to the best on-screen performances of the year, an insightful article about the fashion industry’s attempt to embrace age diversity – written by Harriet Quick – and a gorgeously curated Shopping Special. Subscribe for print and digital copies or digital-only here!

I hope you enjoyed my March must-haves and let me know if you try, do, watch, read or listen to any of my favourite things above. Let’s welcome April into the fold and all the must-haves that the next 30 days will usher in!

None of the items, shows, films or books featured were gifted by the brands mentioned and I was not sponsored for this post. All opinions are my own.

Spring Clean Mindset

As of yesterday morning, Spring is officially upon us, and along with it comes the prospect of renewal, growth and hope for the future. For me, Spring is always a time I look forward to because it means warmer weather (fingers crossed), shedding my overused Winter coat (I have taken too many selfies in it) and most momentously, my birthday!

When I was in secondary school, I remember our class once had to do an assembly around the theme of ‘belief’; as part of it, we each walked across the stage holding up a card on which we had written something we believe in. My card read: ‘I believe my birthday should be a national holiday.’ It got a hefty laugh from the audience, although I cannot quite say it was entirely a joke… The point being, for me, Spring always takes on extra significance; it represents getting older.

Right now, I do not really have a problem with getting older (she says aged 26), ask me again in ten years. I do, however, have a problem with grey hairs – they are unnecessary and quite frankly, my pre-pandemic self did not have a single one, so I feel a little cheated… What I have noticed though, is that more and more frequently my peers talk about age as a burden or obstacle to the events taking place in their lives. “I cannot do x because I am y years old” or “Oh gosh, I’m turning y years old, so I really should have x and z under my belt.”

Image via Pinterest (Lifehack)

It is unsurprising that we feel this way given the societal pressures that have historically made people feel ‘other’ when they do not conform to certain milestones of existence. However, I would have thought with how much we have evolved over the past few years, that we were over the whole ‘husband, house, white picket fence by 30’ fantasy – no judgement if that is your dream, but I wonder is that still what society expects of us? Or, is it now just us that sets up archaic standards for success in our own minds?

Has the recent chaos of a pandemic, a succession of Black Lives Matter protests, and violence against women playing out in plain sight, made us reevaluate what is important in the larger sense? If it has, then perhaps we need to spring clean our mindset a little when it comes to our personal successes, goals and yes, age. After all, even though we often compartmentalise our lives, we do not exist separate from what is going on in the wider world right now, even though it might seem that way.

With life being what it is recently – a continuous loop of ‘wake, eat, work from home, sleep, repeat’, and a political thunderstorm exploding every time we switch on the television – you might be feeling a little restless and well, melancholy. It is an odd realisation indeed to feel as though life is passing you by without much of your own involvement in it.

Image via Pinterest (Femestella)

However, what if some of us needed this past year to truly reflect, grow and throw out those old mindsets, standards and labels that no longer serve us? Yes, it might be tempting to condemn the passing of a year of our lives without too much to show for it, but battling against the current will not get us much closer to where we want to be.

A couple of years ago, I watched a video that Drew Barrymore posted on Instagram on her birthday. While I do not recall her exact words, the sentiment was this: we cannot fight the passing of time. We cannot fight age. Why are we fighting against ourselves? As soon as you realise the absurdity of that paradox, you begin to enjoy life irrespective of age.

That sentiment stayed with me and honestly – while I would love to stay 26 forever – I know that there is no reason why my next year cannot be better, more inspiring, more successful and more of an adventure than the ones that preceded it.

“Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth… It has no day.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

Dear Sarah

Dear Sarah,

It was International Women’s Day on Monday and we were holding our breath. We were hoping, wishing, praying – which we know does not sound like much – but we were holding on for dear life because we wanted to believe that you were still here with us. We wanted to believe you would be found alive.

We are all grappling this week to put into words how we feel about what happened to you. No one should ever have to go through what you went through. So many of us relate to you. You feel like a friend even though we did not know you. The thing is, you could have been any one of us. I, like many, have walked that same road you walked down many times. So why you? It doesn’t make sense. There is no rhyme or reason to any of it.

They tell us stories of good and evil, of who will be protected and who will do the protecting. But they lied… to you, to me, to all of us. The man that was supposed to protect you did the opposite. And when he did, he hurt all of us. Last night, at your peaceful vigil, more women were tackled to the ground by men in uniform who had again promised and failed to protect us.

There should not have ever been a conversation about what you were wearing or what you were doing on your walk home, but unfortunately, there was. Even now, the patriarchy is trying to find something else to divert attention, something they can pin the blame on, something to twist the responsibility back onto you, onto us.

But, why does the burden fall on us to “do everything right” as you did? After all, you wore the flat shoes to be able to run away fast, but if you had worn heels… what of it then? You wore bright, identifiable clothing for walking home in the evening, but even if you had worn black … what of it then? You called your boyfriend, but even if you hadn’t… what of it then?

Why does this unimaginable, heavy burden have to fall on women to do these things? Why do we have to protect ourselves constantly to the point of exhaustion? Why do these thoughts have to consume every part of our daily lives?

They say we have equality but how can that possibly be true when we cannot even walk down a street safely without catcalling, harassment, assault or violence? Our rights and freedoms have always been contingent on male behaviour.

As women, there are certain things that we accept as facts in order to survive; one of them is that if a man wants something from you, it is probably within his physical power to take it. It is his choice. Not ours. Our lives are at the mercy of men every time we leave our homes. To live freely is a calculated risk on our part. To hurt freely is a calculated decision on theirs.

Dangerous men have always followed us home in the dark, harassed and abused us, and somehow, this has been widely unchallenged and largely, ignored. “People believe whatever supports their world view”* and for the majority of white, straight, cis-gendered men the patriarchy keeps life pretty easy… Why rock the boat? Plus, if they don’t actually see it, then it cannot possibly be happening, right?

Sarah, your death spelt it out as clear as day… Men’s learned behaviour needs to change. This all starts and stops with them. Your death lit a match that has grown into a wildfire. People are talking about the issue of women’s safety because they recognise that our patriarchal society has failed you. The injustice we feel is almost unbearable, but it will never compare to the pain those closest to you feel. We cannot begin to comprehend the weight of that grief.

We never knew you Sarah, but maybe we walked past you on the street one day? Perhaps we caught the same bus or dined in the same restaurant? Perhaps we even had a mutual friend? We never knew you, but our hearts are breaking for you because you should be here right now. If the world was different, you would be here right now. We never knew you, but we will never forget you.

Rest in peace Sarah.



*Quotation from YOU, Netflix

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