5 Ways To Increase Your Productivity

“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night.”

Michael Jordan

Is anyone else struggling to be productive while working from home? Recently, I have had lots of conversations with friends of mine who are all struggling with this same thing. It could be the fact that lockdown restrictions are gradually being lifted so there is more to distract us outside our homes again, or perhaps it is the Euros 2020/2021 creating some excitement and atmosphere, both on screen and on the streets of London.

Whatever the reason, I have gathered a couple of my top tips for increasing my productivity during times where I feel as though I simply cannot concentrate.

  1. Focus Hour – Setting aside an hour to focus solely on one task is a great way to get a lot done in a short space of time. Use a timer on your phone to track yourself and take a short break after the hour has passed. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
  2. Airplane Mode – Using Airplane Mode or the ‘do not disturb’ setting on your phone is an excellent way to avoid distractions from social media and senseless scrolling while you work. Give yourself specific times to check in; for example, at lunchtime and when you log out for the day.
  3. Use a diary – Whether it is the digital calendar in your phone or a physical diary, use it to plan your time and keep track of deadlines. You can also use calendar ‘Alerts’ to set reminders for weeks, days or hours before each deadline. This really helps avoid that feeling when you know you have something coming up, but you can’t quite remember what it is.
  4. Create Habits – If you know you have a recurring weekly deadline, set aside a specific time each week to work on the task. Then, set a recurring ‘Alert’ on your phone to remind you to keep the promise to yourself. Once you get into the swing of it, it will become an ingrained part of your week. After all, we are creatures of habit.
  5. Reward Yourself – Rewarding yourself is probably the most meaningful way you can increase your productivity as you will be more likely to stick to the focus hours, phone detoxes, diary planning and habits. Think of creative ways you can reward yourself after ticking off each item on your to-do list. Anything from a quick walk outside to buying a coffee out or reading a few pages of your book will make you feel better.
Rewarding myself with a trip to the pub for the Euros – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

I hope these tips can help you to increase your productivity and feel a little more in control of your to-do list this week. What are some of your tips for working from home and improving your productivity?

Like a Scratch

This week I got vaccinated. After the announcement on Monday that 25-29 year-olds could book their vaccine appointment, I woke up extra early to book my slot on Tuesday. I clearly wasn’t the only geeky-keen one. It was reported that Tuesday – the first day that 25-29 year-olds could book a jab – saw the most bookings of the vaccine thus far, roughly four times what has been deemed ‘normal’. Say what you want about Millennials but they want to get back to living!

I managed to book a slot for Wednesday and so, the following day I waltzed off in the toasty morning light to CP House Ealing, my closest vaccination centre. The whole thing was quick and painless – the nurse administering the jab told me it would feel like a “rough scratch”, but I barely even felt it. Admittedly I have a pretty high pain threshold; I credit waxing, epilation and living as a woman for that. “Wow. You’re in a good mood!” The masked volunteer said to me with what I assume was a grin on her face. I’ve got rather good at reading masked expressions at this point, I think. “Of course,” I said. “This is a big moment.” And it was.

I remember distinctly how I felt a year ago; I was in a post-birthday funk and in the depths of our first national lockdown. A solution to the sci-fi novel-turned-reality we were living in seemed so distant that it almost wasn’t worth talking about. Vaccines? Well, those could take years to be approved and rolled out the experts reminded us on the news every evening. We had a long way to go, and now, a year on – while we are not yet out of the woods – we can certainly see the clearing. Nature is healing and science has triumphed!

To see my peers’ Instagram stories flooded with vaccine cards, to watch my mum receive her second jab, to look on as Biden buys 500 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to donate to the world; it has been one surreal week. “Surreal, but nice.” Maybe the nice times will keep coming. Perhaps the unpleasant times are on the out. If some days still feel like a rough scratch, well, we already know we can deal with that.

Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

…& So The Sunday Scaries

“I know a girl from a lonely street

Cold as ice cream, but still as sweet

Dry your eyes, Sunday Girl”

Sunday Girl, Blondie

Even though we all like to pretend Sunday is a ‘fun day’, much of our global population is united in the same feelings of stress and anxiety every week known as the ‘Sunday Scaries’. Whether it is the anticipation of a brand new week ahead, work stress, existential crises about where we are in our lives, the last couple of hours of the weekend are often lost to this dread every single week. Fun, huh?

According to a 2018 LinkedIn survey, 80% of American professionals experience the Sunday Scaries, but I wonder if that survey were to take place in 2021, would the results be any different? One of the few improvements brought about by the pandemic has been that working from home has become the norm. For parents and carers, in particular, working from home has been a game-changer. So, could the fact that many of us no longer have to endure long commutes, early starts and office stress alleviate our Sunday Scaries at all?

The answer, I think, is complicated. Whilst those particular stresses may not be so prevalent in our minds, others – general and pandemic-related – have reared their ugly heads. Perhaps your internal dialogue looks a little like this: Have I relaxed enough? Have I been productive enough? Have I seen my friends enough? Have I completed my life admin? Have I worked on my side-hustle? Have I wasted too much time on social media? Welcome to the inner-workings of my mind!

The thing is, we fill our lives up with so much stuff beyond our full-time jobs that it is not really that surprising we experience the Sunday Scaries each week, and most likely, the accompanying burnout. Weekdays are intense and busy for most people, and – if you are lucky enough to not work weekends – Saturday often becomes a catch-up day.

Therefore, Sunday is the only real opportunity for leisure activities or relaxation. Whichever way you choose to plan your weekend, with only one day per week to truly unwind, is it any wonder that we simply cannot relax on Sunday (aka the universal day of rest)?

Image via yourtango.com

I have always found the narrative that Millennials are painted out to be ‘sensitive snowflakes’ confusing. Millennials, in my opinion, have chosen to dismantle historical taboos and stand up to inequality, wading through difficult conversations surrounding race, LGBTQ+ issues, climate change and mental health. How is any of that sensitive? If you want to call it something, call it brave.

But, as with everything, bravery comes at a price. This desire many of us feel to take on a million things at once should be applauded, but also cautioned. The Sunday Scaries are often a reaction to a sensory and emotional overload. Perhaps it is a sign that we need to take some more time for ourselves, or maybe there is a bigger issue at play? Either way, we should take the time to explore the reasons behind the way we feel. Once we do, we can walk out of the gloom and over to the ice cream van…

The Sunday Scaries are not an Millennial-exclusive issue by any means. However, it is something that Millennials talk about increasingly, so much so, we coined the phrase! I am grateful for that, and the general acknowledgement that this kind of seemingly irrational fear of the week ahead is a shared experience; ultimately, a very human one.

I hope that today’s post makes anyone who is feeling the Sunday Scaries know that they are not alone, and the week ahead is definitely not as scary as your mind is leading you to believe. Perhaps this blog post isn’t as bad as the Scaries would have me believe either.

The Best of May

Happy Bank Holiday weekend kids! Despite May being my favourite month, sadly there were no heatwaves to ring in my birthday this year. Instead, it was a month of rain, hail, and – yes – about fifty shades of grey (the boring kind).

Below are some of the things I have been enjoying this month; the things that have helped keep me happy, inspired, moving and extremely grateful. I hope they will bring you some much-deserved solace and warmth too!

  1. Sour – Unless you’ve been avoiding social media, Spotify and humans this month, you will have likely heard Olivia Rodrigo’s latest single ‘good 4 u’. The song is the catchiest break-up/dance song I’ve heard in years, and gives us Millennials major ‘Misery Business’ Paramore vibes. I feel like I’m back in 2007 again every time I scream the chorus into my bathroom mirror… The rest of the album is heart-breaking, relatable, and mature in equal measure. So much so, you could be forgiven for thinking Rodrigo is older than her mere seventeen years. Although, she does remind us of her age with a line in ‘brutal’: “I’m so sick of seventeen.” My current favourite tracks on the album include: ‘brutal’, ‘traitor’ and ‘good 4 u’. Head to Spotify now to stream!
  2. Mare of Easttown – When I heard Kate Winslet was going to be in a dark crime series, I was extremely excited. Honestly, I was right to be – the show is superb, intriguing and surprisingly funny at points. I must warn you though, the levels of stress I experience seem to build with each passing episode. The writing is particularly brilliant and Kate’s performance is nuanced and raw. Gosh, I’ve missed seeing that woman on my screen. Head to NowTV to check out Mare of Easttown now before the final episode airs on Monday!
  3. Good old Italian – I hadn’t visited a proper Italian restaurant in a while and I’m convinced that there is nothing more soothing for the soul than authentic Italian pasta and a catch up with an old friend. Head to Osteria Basilico in Notting Hill for delicious wine, rustic interiors and to-die-for pasta. You know the place has got to be good when many of the customers are Italian too!
  4. Friends: The Reunion – This was the reunion I didn’t know I needed and let me tell you, it was emotional. I am a huge Friends fan and seeing all the actors back together reminiscing about their time on the show, revealing behind-the-scenes gossip and being just generally ADORABLE, made me feel super nostalgic. Prior to watching it, I must admit I wondered why they weren’t returning for a reunion episode as the characters, but as Lisa Kudrow points out during the reunion, the show ended so perfectly it wouldn’t make sense to go back and unravel those storylines. If you haven’t watched it yet, click here. Oh, and you had better source a box of tissues prior to viewing…
  5. Pvolve – My sister has got me hooked on these awesome and highly effective workouts from Pvolve. If you haven’t heard of Pvolve, it is a bit like a combination of barre and Pilates. The concept is low impact workouts that target muscle activation based on micro-movements. You can access the workouts from home via the App with a monthly subscription, or you can head into a physical studio if you live in the U.S. If you’re looking for a way to shake up your daily workouts, I would definitely recommend you give Pvolve a try.
  6. Snapchat – A couple of years ago, I deleted Snapchat off my phone for no particular reason other than I simply felt it wasn’t adding too much to my life. Earlier this week, I re-downloaded the app out of curiosity and I was actually pleasantly surprised. It kind of feels like the secretive sister of Instagram – the app that you use to show the parts of your life you perhaps don’t really want the whole internet to see. Forget followers; on Snapchat you are only friends with those you genuinely want to be. Another bonus is the filters that are about 1000 times better than the ones on Instagram (if you’re a filters person, of course). Snapchat, you’ve seduced me, again.
  7. Hail To The Victor Music Video – Thirty Seconds To Mars’ America album is one of those albums I continuously go back to and last week, they released a music video for the track Hail to the Victor. The video is basically a highlight reel of the 2018 Monolith world tour; during which I finally saw the band live at the O2 Arena. The enormous crowds, the ostentatious Jared Leto fashion moments, and the unbeatable atmosphere of those live shows is in full-force in the music video. It is the band’s homage to hope and a look-ahead at the return of live music. While we wait for the world to heal from the pandemic, live vicariously through the music video here.
  8. Hollywood – When I came across Hollywood by Charles Bukowski in a bookshop in Camden market, I immediately picked it up. I have always wanted to read some Bukowski and the title suggested this was the perfect novel to get me started. Hollywood is a hilarious, delightful, fictionalised version of the events that occurred and characters encountered when Bukowski decided to write a screenplay of his novel Barfly. Bukowski’s writing is completely without pretence and highly self-aware, without totally stripping the curtain back on the glamour of 1970’s Hollywood. You’ll zip through this book, I promise!
  9. Youth To The People Dream Mask – I cannot say that I was aware of this skincare brand before trying the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask, but now, I am a convert. It is a creamy-textured mask that easily melts into your skin when you put it on at night and is suitable for all skin types. I’ve been using the product on those evenings where I feel as though my skin needs an extra boost of hydration and I always wake up to brighter, smoother skin. Thirst officially quenched!
  10. Welcome to the OC, Bitches! Podcast – Noticing a pattern here? My favourite childhood shows are coming through with reunion content recently and I am front-row centre. This podcast is hosted by Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke, aka the legendary Summer Roberts and Julie Cooper on the hit teen drama. The premise is they watch an episode of The O.C each week and debrief the contents with special cast and crew members during the podcast. If you are interested in television, acting or casting then you will love hearing about all the behind-the-scenes industry nuggets. Speaking of, who knew that Chris Pine auditioned for the role of Ryan? That one blew my mind!

I hope you enjoyed my Best of May and let me know if you try, do, watch, read or listen to any of my favourite things above. Here’s to the month of June blessing us with – hopefully – some warmer weather and a first dose of the vaccine for us under 30 folks. Let’s go #vaxxgirlsummer

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.

26 Lessons From 26 years

Well, I had a birthday this week. I have just arrived at Chapter 27 of the novel of my life and so, this week’s blog post is all about imparting the lessons I have learned from my 26 trips around the sun. I know year 27 will bring more, but this is what I have learned thus far.

  1. Your instincts matter
  2. Preparation is paramount
  3. People won’t remember the critics, but they will remember the doers, the makers, the artists, and the people that left the world better than they found it
  4. Use your voice to speak out about what you believe in
  5. You are supposed to fail in your twenties
  6. Live in the moment and HAVE FUN
  7. There is more than one way to get to where you want to be
  8. Nothing is final. Work, relationships and friendships evolve, so go with it
  9. Passion brings your life purpose
  10. Don’t give up on your dreams, even if they seem further away than they ever have
  11. Kill ’em with kindness
  12. Your twenties will look different to what they looked like for your grandparents, your parents, even your brother or sister
  13. Embrace and accept the way you look. Part of that means taking care of yourself now
  14. Try new things, hobbies and leave your comfort zone in the dust
  15. Friendships are everything. Invest in them
  16. Not everyone you like or love is meant to stay in your life. Some people will leave and that’s okay
  17. Say ‘thank you’ for what you have
  18. Vulnerability is strength. Life makes us feel like we have to put up walls. Smash those down
  19. Be curious about everything: people, places, cultures, things
  20. Spend time with your family. Get to know them better and their stories. We assume we know it all but we don’t
  21. Don’t shy away from the tricky conversations
  22. Take the shot: espresso or tequila, whatever
  23. Being cool is overrated
  24. Write down the crazy stories and tell them to as many people as possible
  25. When you’re sad, call your mum/dad (or the equivalent parental figure in your life)
  26. It is never too late to start over

Take a Screen-Break

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.”

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Naturally, I have been aware of how much time we spend on screens for some time. During the pandemic though, confined to the parameter of my home office, the amount of hours I spend staring at screens daily has been brought home to me (literally). After 8-10 hours of working from home, I will log off my work laptop and open up my personal one to relax with – yes, you guessed it – the latest show or film I happen to be watching. After spending most of the day looking at a screen, it seems slightly mad that I will revert to a screen to ‘unplug’. Please tell me I am not alone in my madness…

It would be prudent to mention here that I have really bad eyesight. I wear contact lenses most days and limit my use of glasses to the evenings or days where I am at home, so most people might not know this about me. Nevertheless, I have worn glasses since the tender age of seven and contact lenses since about 13 because – let’s face it – for most of us, the teenager years are awkward enough without the classic braces-glasses combo! Plus, my prescription was (and is) so high that even with the maximum ‘thinning’, they would protrude whichever stylish frames I deign to pick. Ugly Betty wasn’t just a tv show, it was a lifestyle for me.

My big sis and I in Disney California in the 00s – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

In the days when I first started wearing glasses and subsequently, contact lenses, life was very different. People didn’t spend the majority of their day looking at computer or mobile screens. Instead, we hung out at Starbucks, with 10 of us squished around one tiny table sipping on Caramel Frappuccinos while ‘yummy mummys’ looked at us with disgust for how high we had hitched up our skirts. I believe this behaviour is in the brick and mortar of every all-girls school in the country (perhaps the world).

We spent time with each other face to face and when we had nights-in, we would head to Blockbusters for a movie because Netflix didn’t exist. I am aware this all makes me sound ancient, but it was a wonderful time. Things were less accessible then, which in turn, made them appear magical. Or, perhaps I’m just nostalgic?

The school days – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

I have been thinking a lot about how much the world has changed recently because of the conundrum I find myself in daily. I love cinema and I love television; I am a performer at heart and have always reverted to storytelling to escape or relax. But, in a world where everything happens behind a screen, are we doing more damage to ourselves than we actually realise?

An excess of screen time is not good for anyone: it can cause premature aging through blue-light exposure, chronic back and neck pain, sleeping problems, a deterioration in mental health and dry-eye symptoms. I certainly notice that after a day of predominantly staring at screens, my eyes feel tired, dry and red. I am always worried about my eyes and think constantly about ways to lessen the impact of screens on my vision.

So much so, during my latest visit to my optometrist, I asked her the question I had been turning over in my mind for the past few months: “What can I do to lessen the impact of blue light on my eyes?” While her answer: “spend less time on digital devices” was not quite the inspiring or revolutionary response I had been hoping for, I had to admit that she had a point. Although there are things that we can do to help lessen the negative impact of blue light, like investing in Broad Spectrum SPF or glasses that filter blue-light, the best thing that we can do is to give ourselves a digital screen-break.

Proof that I still wear glasses sometimes – Image via Gabriela Godinho-Moxon

It might sound impossible if you have a busy day job that requires you to be stuck at your computer for large portions of the day (check), you are a blogger (check) or simply enjoy movies and tv (check, check – check for movies, check for tv, go on…). But, even taking short, regular breaks to step away from the screen can help. I am also trying to make an concerted effort to spend my hours after work doing activities that do not require screens, like free-flow yoga, running or reading. This doesn’t always work of course because, well, here we are… Alas, more and more I feel as though 1930s screenwriters had the right idea with the whole typewriter thing.

Be that as it may, take this article as your sign to step away from the screen and do a little something for yourself today that doesn’t require a screen. Dance, sing, play or daydream the moments away. Words on screens will be waiting for you whenever you decide to return.

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.

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