Monthly musings; July 2019

It's July. JULY! Somehow we're already into the second month of summer. 

June was a busy month for me and I unfortunately didn't set any goals for the month as part of my Monthly Musings. Instead, I went home for 10 days and caught up with friends and family, spent 6 glorious days at my favourite place (link), watched my best friend marry the love of her life. And there’s no better way to pass the time, if you ask me.

I could berate myself for not doing it, thinking about how I should have done better and it's a shame that I let it slide. There’s no value in this though, and I'm trying to shift away from using negative words like should and instead looking at things a little differently. I certainly could have set goals for the month of June and I could have taken the time to write about it. But I didn't, and that's okay!

Now that I’m successfully recovered from the wedding and settled back into my daily routines, it’s time to refocus for the month of July.

Here’s what I have in mind.

read one book per week

To call myself bookish as a kid may be an understatement. I absolutely adored reading and could often be found with my nose buried in a book during lunch or long care rides. I’d sometimes stay up until 3am just to finish a book because I was too impatient to wait until morning to pick it up again.

Somewhere along the way that obsession began to fade, taken over by Spotify tunes, drinks with friends, and Netflix nights. I’d started Becoming by Michelle Obama weeks ago but after about 60 pages I put it down in a corner of my room and left it there untouched. Yesterday I picked it up and went to the Common to continue reading and I’ve barely put it down since.

So this month I’m going to aim to get my eyes off of Netflix and my nose back into books by reading one book per week. If you have any suggestions, please comment below!

complete 30 days of intermittent fasting

I’ve said before that I’ve worked hard at getting myself into a good gym routine over the past few months. I’m officially now a gym junkie, in love with the grind and addicted to how much better it makes me feel (physically, mentally, spiritually, all of it).

Recently though I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a plateau. I’m definitely getting stronger, but it doesn’t feel like I’m seeing any results. I have friends and family who have done intermittent fasting over various periods of time, all to positive reviews.

So I thought ‘Why not? I’ll give it a shot.’

I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to do it without slip ups and am curious to see what happens at the end of day 30. Wish me luck!

get outside as much as possible

Sometime last year my Dad mailed me a picture frame with the saying ‘Go outside and do something great’ framed inside.. Now that Summer has arrived and the Sun in London has arrived with it, I want to revel in it while it lasts.

Days that turn into nights on the Common, grabbing a pint at one of London’s dozens of outdoor pubs, walking along the River Thames during my lunch break - I mean really, what can be better than that?

have one new experience per week

This is going to be a continual goal because it’s easy to forget but it’s important to do!

When you live in a city as big as London, there is an endless supply of places to go and things to do/see. In the winter months I usually go into hibernate mode and find myself exploring the city less and less. This month, I want to make sure that I keep exploring and experience one new thing per week. Or as my Dad would say, ‘go out and do something new!’

tell me, what are some of your goals for July?

With love, V.

3 benefits of international friendships

One of the best things about a city like London is how international it's residents are; it's an incredibly dynamic city made up of people from all corners of the world. When you live abroad, it's important to become friends with people from your adopted country - after all, you did move there for a reason! - but it's equally important to make connections with other expats.

I've somehow managed to reel in a group of twenty-something Aussies who, like me, packed up and moved to London. I don't really know how to describe them other than to say that they are an adventurous, inviting, supportive and hysterically sarcastic group of people that I feel lucky to call my friends. Our WhatsApp group description probably sums them up best:

'A group of dysfunctional Aussies who accidentally got on a plane to London instead of Brisbane and their token American friend (that's me!), now 30% Aussie), who decided to huddle together as a means of survival and drinking in excess without going bankrupt.'

In the span of just a few months they have had a positive impact on my life and it got me thinking about the benefits of international friendships.

1. They encourage discovery

When you become friends with people from other countries you have a unique opportunity to open your eyes and learn about new cultures.

You get to hear stories from your friends of cities that you've never visited and lands you've never seen. You learn about what life is like and can talk with each other for hours about the similarities and differences between where you're both from and also to your adopted home. You might also travel and experience new cultures together, broadening your view of the world and challenging your perceptions of it.

Incredible things happen when you find people with the same taste for adventure and discovery and passion for new beginnings.

Together you can discover more about yourselves and others than you ever thought possible.

2. They provide a sense of belonging

When you meet fellow expats it feels the same as if you'd randomly met someone who went to your University or supports the same football (American or otherwise) team as you. There's an instant connection - a mutual understanding and common ground between you.

Why?

Because they either have felt, or are feeling, all of the same things you are and you can take comfort in knowing that you are understood.

Quite simply, they get it!

When living abroad it's easy to feel like you don't really belong anywhere, but you can belong to each other. You have a network of people that can provide support when you need it and who allow you to be who you are without fear of rejection.

Suddenly you 'fit' again.

3. They give you memories to last a lifetime

Your friendships won't stay the same forever; some of your friends will move back home, move elsewhere, or make the decision to stay.

Even though the friendships may change, you will always share the memories that you made together. Someday you'll tell your own families about the friends you made while you lived abroad and the adventures you had. If you're lucky, you'll still be in touch.   

This is the beauty of international friendships.

They're not bound by borders or places, they're bound by the bond between you.

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The friendships you make while living abroad are special. One of the girls in our group, Emma, tells us at least twice (minimum) each time we see each other how happy she is we're friends. We tease her about it often, but I think I can say that we all feel the same way.

I am so grateful to each and every one of the amazing friendships I've made in the last year. How have you found making international friends? Leave a comment below if you can relate!

With love, V

your story series | what well-balanced living means to you

**This post was written by the lovely Laura Versage. Just like with Tracey, our second guest writer in this series, Laura and I grew up in the same neighbourhood and have known each other since we were around four years old. She is my very best friend and no matter what life throws at me, she’s always there offering support. She is my confidant, and hers is one of the friendships that doesn’t seem to have altered in any way since I moved to London. She is humble yet she is giving, she is serious yet bubbly, she’s one of the most genuine people I know, and I feel #blessed every day that she loves me. Enjoy!**

 
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Name: Laura Versage

Age: 27

Job: Benefits consultant

Location: Frederick, Maryland

Favourite candy: Raisinets

Favourite quote: “She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future - Proverbs 31:25”

 

At 27, I feel like I have a fairly good handle on balancing my life. In general I have always been able to recognise what my body and soul need in order to thrive.

I think my parents can take most of the credit for raising me and my siblings in an environment of healthy habits, faith, hard work, positive relationships, and internal reflection. When you are a kid, your parents do the balancing for you. Their goal is to guide you through a wholesome and satisfying childhood. Once you leave the nest, you become solely responsible for cultivating a fulfilling lifestyle.

Fast forward a decade or two, and all of a sudden the stresses you had when you were 17 seem silly. You now have your own family to nurture, you own a house and need to keep it neat and orderly, you’re trying to stay in touch with your relatives and friends who live hundreds or thousands of miles away, you must excel at your job to support your increasingly expensive lifestyle, and in the midst of all this you are trying to find time to invest in hobbies and passions and, ya know, have a LIFE.

I was more or less single until the time I met my future husband. I found the hardest transition for me in life thus far was moving from living with my girlfriends in DC to moving in with my fiancé. This wasn’t due to a lack of love and commitment in the relationship. It was realising there was so much I took for granted living with my girlfriends in DC when I was really only accountable for myself.

My advice today is based on how I currently stay grounded in the midst of a crazy house-renovating, puppy-raising, wedding-planning life. Sure, there are an unlimited number of things I could list that have obvious effects on overall well-being.

Drinking a litre of water can instantly eliminate a headache.

Making your bed every morning can set you up for a more productive day.

There are magic potions at Sephora that can literally change your skin overnight (I can attest).

That aside, when Victoria asked me if I would like to write on her bog, my goal was to write something from my heart.

Thinking about my current overall state of happiness, I would say that there are four main contributors that keep me grounded and balanced amidst the chaos.

Get your butt moving

Exercise is by far the most important thing that keeps me centred and in a good mood.

Yes of course, food, sleep, and water are all contributors to a healthy mind and body, but exercise produces drugs in your brain that literally make you happy.

It speeds up your metabolism too, which means you can have a night on the town and not feel guilty about those two (or five) margaritas. Not only that, but any problems you had before you went to the gym feel much more manageable once you leave.

Physical activity has always been something I try to encourage in others. Even if it’s walking the dog for a mile, everyone should make physical exercise a priority in their life.

Fill your love tank

Have you ever had the feeling like your heart is empty?

Or maybe you and your partner are having an off week and you feel like they are not showing enough affection?  

If you answered yes to either of those questions, it could mean your love tank isn’t as full as you need it to be. Love tanks fill up when the people around you speak to you in your love language.

For those that are not familiar, a love language is the way you give and receive love. You may be thinking “this sounds corny and lame’” but trust me it’s changed my life. Regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not, your love language is something I think everyone should be aware of.

The five languages are:

  1. Acts of service

  2. Words of affirmation

  3. Quality time

  4. Physical touch

  5. Gifts.

My primary love language today is quality time. If I find that a week goes by and I’m feeling disconnected from my fiancé, 100% of the time it’s because we have not been able to spend quality time together. This means doing something together that doesn’t involve our phones or the television. It involves having more than just passing conversations of “When will you be home?” or “What should we have for dinner?”

It could be something as simple as going grocery shopping together or taking our dog, Luna, for a walk that makes all the difference.

I think every couple should be aware of each other’s love language and consciously practice them as much as possible. It creates a firm foundation of feeling loved and fulfilled that sets you up to be balanced in every other aspect of life.

Make time for GNOs and BNOs

Up until when I moved in with my fiancé, I had ALWAYS lived with females. Growing up, I shared a room with my sister. In college, I lived with my sorority sisters. Out of college, I lived with my dear friend Victoria (shout out) for three years.

Then all of a sudden, I found myself living with a boy. He didn’t want to have getting ready parties with me, he never could tell me which outfit looked better, and he refused to watch Hallmark movies with me. If I recall, the first time I turned on the Hallmark Channel while he was sitting next to me on the couch he groaned and said “Don’t tell me you like these kind of shows?”  BOY PLEASE.

In the beginning there were times when I cried to him that I missed having that girl time because I was living in a new town where I had no girlfriends. He encouraged me to make girlfriends a priority in my life.

Once you move in with your significant other, it is so easy to get caught up in spending all your time with them, which is why I make it a priority to schedule time with my girlfriends every month. There’s something about getting dressed up, leaving the men at home, and having some girl talk that will smooth cracks in your soul you didn’t even know existed. The same can be said for men and needing time to just be “one of the guys”.

Stop scrolling

The more I try to be intentional with my life, the more of a negative affiliation I have with my phone and social media.

Often times we get home from a particularly trying day at work and just want to put our feet up and give our brains a break. I totally get that some days you just need to be one with your couch. Every day my fiancé comes home from work and needs about 30 minutes to himself in his favorite recliner.

I get it.

But I have personally found that there is a direct correlation between my unhappiness and time spent on social media. I’m all for the resourcefulness of a phone; I can easily stay in touch with friends and family, Google Maps can tell me EXACTLY where and when to turn (somehow I still manage to screw it up), and I can listen to books during my hour long commute to work. But at the same time, it also becomes a vessel for comparisons, self-valuation, jealousy, and envy.

n 2018, the average adult spent 3 hours and 30 minutes on their phones every day. That equates to 53 days in a year. That is pretty terrifying if you ask me. With the new iPhone update, it’s easier than ever to monitor time spent on your phone. I’ve set a limit for myself on my phone and continue to decrease it every week with the goal of living a more intentional and productive lifestyle.

Happiness is all relative

With all that said, I know that you might only be able to relate to one or two of the things on my list. Or, you may not believe in any of them and that’s okay too.

My happiness has always been a product of recognising what’s sustaining my own positive feelings. Actively working on these four things has exponentially improved my well-being and helps me stay balanced amidst the craziness.

Thanks darlings, love you all.

Laura