So much of my research into how to focus more on the good in life and less on the not-so-good has pointed me to a specific method: keeping a gratefulness journal. It’s something I’ve tried to do since the beginning of the year: I was great at it for a while, not missing a single day, but then I started my new job and I became not so good at doing it every day. But on the days I have written down all the things I’m grateful for, I have to say it definitely helped: I would fall asleep feeling that little bit lighter, as if having put pen to paper and forced myself to focus on the good in my day made the tense/difficult/stressful moments feel a lot easier to forget.
So that’s what this series is going to be about, a monthly round-up of all the little and not-so-little things that made my month a good one, all the defining moments and obstacles/achievements that have changed me in a positive way.
So, dear April…
I am so, so thankful to have had visitors from home this month: my friend Charlotte from university and her wonderful boyfriend Chris. You’ll have seen Charlotte in a past blog post and there’s a few more to come, so I’ll keep it short, but she is such a blessing to me. Having her on the phone/on Skype/on Facetime instantly brightens my day, and she’s one of those people who I feel makes me a better person, also because I find inspiration in so many of her words. Having her come to me (along with Chris who I could just talk to for hours), showing her around Arequipa and my new home, introducing her to my boyfriend Lucio, and traveling to Machu Picchu with her, was just exceptional. When you live so far away from “home”, sometimes having a piece of home come to you is the most incredible thing. Though this expat life is exotic in many ways, somehow receiving a tight hug from a familiar/friendly/lovely face is just… it’s what I needed. I miss our adventures already. As she and Chris were about to leave Peru to fly back to the UK, I had to keep repeating to myself: “don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened”. Cheesy, so cheesy. But it’s something I’m trying to be better at. I’m grateful that two more sets of friends are coming to visit this year, it’ll make the time between now and flying home for Christmas feel so much shorter!
This month was my second in my new job, and boy has it been a challenge, and has it given me opportunities to put forward new ideas, and to push my creativity. I’m finding Digital Marketing challenging in a good way, and I’m seeing it as a really valuable skill I’ll be able to take to my next job. What I need to work on and improve is… Finding a personal life/work balance. After giving it all at work during the day, at night I’m finding it tough to have any energy, any creativity and motivation for personal things. Finding time for exercise has been tough, I get some on a daily basis by walking everywhere as much as I can (and there is a lot of walking to be done in Arequipa!) but I would love to fit in a real exercise class a few times a week. As well as exercising, I’ve found that things like reading have also been a little neglected, as if taking time away to myself to tuck into a good book and block out the outside world has become too much of a luxury. These are things I really want to work on, but I’m happy that I’ve been able to identify those two “problems”, and I’m determined to keep reading those articles about how to be better at them!
The end of April also marks one month since I decided to be healthier. Not dieting, not forbidding myself a whole list of foods, but rather making 3 small lifestyle changes to help me feel better in my own body. And I have been so amazed at the difference it’s made. I used to have such unhealthy habits, from drinking Diet Coke every day to having dinner at 10pm every other night. I’ve cut out soda/fizzy drinks from my life, and surprisingly enough, I don’t miss them. (This is a shock to me every day). Unless I’m meeting friends for dinner, I don’t eat anything past 7pm. And… junk food doesn’t even enter my vocabulary anymore. I can’t tell you how difficult these little changes were in the beginning, but eating well, making healthier choices and using an app to track how much I eat has been a life-changer. My stomach feels so much flatter and without being able to pinpoint how, I feel so much better in my own body. To be continued… (If I manage to make more changes and keep them up, I’ll write a post about it).
I’m going to be an aunt, and I could not be more excited out of my mind. Though I found out back in February that my brother and his lovely wife were expecting, for some reason this month the realisation has really hit me, and although I know I won’t see Peanut (the baby’s temporary name) all that often as they live in Washington DC, I still know I’m going to make our relationship so incredibly special. Now the next thing I can’t sit still for: to find out if it’s a little lady or a little guy!
Finally, this month I’m especially grateful for my Lucio, my best friend, my love. I woke up this morning at 6am and he wasn’t by my side, I could hear him busying away in the kitchen. I walked in, and there he was, having been up since 5.30am, finishing off making our lunch for the day. He said he wanted me to wake up and find my lunch ready to take away for work. This is just normal for Lucio, he wouldn’t think twice about doing it. My beautiful Peruvian, thank you for all these little things that make me feel so loved. I love you.
A few favourites this month…
- While I wait for season 6 of The Walking Dead to be available over here (the wait is killing me), I started watching The Good Wife on Netflix, I’m really liking it so far. (I think I was a criminal lawyer in a past life…)
- Two favourite films this month, both of which made me cry well after the credits stopped rolling. “Room”, which I had wanted to see for so long and lived up to all my expectations (and more, you HAVE to see it), and “The Danish Girl”. Leo definitely deserved that Oscar but oh boy, they should have made a second “Best Actor” award just for him!
Two absolute favourite can’t-stop-playing songs:
Ellie Goulding – “Army” (which I dedicate to so many people in my mind when I listen to it)
Avicii – “The Nights” (the inspiration behind my blog’s motto, my go-to song to feel that little bit braver)
April, you were good to me. Here’s to May, let’s hope it brings more favourites, more time for reading, photography, exercise and blogging, and more adventures.
What were the highlights of your month? I’d love to know!