Thought of the Day: Built to Last

Don’t you miss the days when things were built sturdy, to stand through tough times? To be fair, I’m quite young so maybe I don’t recall much of ‘those days’ but I do remember things like the solid old-school Nokia phones which could survive through any roughs and tumbles thrown their way. Back in school as a teenager, I recall one of my friends telling the story of how she washed her clothes only to eventually look through the washing machine door with dread and helplessness as she realised her phone was in one of the pockets. Long story short – the phone (a Nokia or Sony Erikson I believe) survived.

Of course, they don’t build phones – or literally any product – like that anymore. I mean even the new houses being built across London look a bit suspect compared to their older, Victorian counterparts.

These days it appears price does not always mean longevity so it can be hard to tell what would be a wise investment and what would last longest. Product warranties are getting shorter and shorter – for one, it really doesn’t make sense that you can spend over a grand on a phone – quite a hefty investment for some of us! – that only has a one-year warranty (Yes, Apple I’m looking at you). On top of that, the business models of brands like Apple mean that they start to phase out phones really quickly and at an increasingly fast pace. Your phone may have come out 2-4 years ago and suddenly it’s out of date and barely being sold in shops anymore. So even if you tried to be rebellious, and hold onto your phone as long as you can, you’ll end up being forced to get a new one sooner or later because Apple will stop providing security software support and updates general updates to your phone. This makes your phone vulnerable to attacks or the work of hackers (which I’m sure noooo-one wants.) Such is the capitalist system we live in!

I say that but then again there are brands out there known for their quality products which often then to be very endurant – i.e. Dr. Martins and Birkenstocks. I invested in both this past year and think I’ll be trying to continue to try and intentionally invest more in such brands because, let’s be honest, the hassle of replacing things that break unexpectedly or/and very inconveniently can be stress we really don’t need more of in this life.

If you’re interested in doing the same you may be interested in this Youtube channel which covers this topic. The couple also has a new related channel you can check out here.

I also have a previous blog post on sustainability here which you may fancy reading too 🙂 .

*Photo by Eirik Solheim on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Prepare for the Worst

Every day I prepare to leave the house I look at the weather forecast and use the unfolding climate for that day to decide how I’ll dress for that day. If it rains or is raining (a common occurrence during UK winters!), I’ll ensure I’m wearing my winter coat or have alternative protection in the form of my umbrella. If only life was like that – we could scroll through what circumstances would come next and prepare ourselves – and our hearts – accordingly. For many people, more often than we would like, circumstances turn for the worst and thus, an uphill battle begins. A cancer diagnosis, a sudden redundancy, a loss in the family, a theft at home or even on the street. Life is mad and maddening, it loves to throw us curveballs that do NOT discriminate and are probably more frequent than we tell ourselves. When these things happen they can do so out of the blue and unfold at a flash of light. Your landlord raises your rent and suddenly you’re in arrears and out wandering the streets with all your belongings in one suitcase.

Reading the above just now, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Yet, despite knowing all this, it’s interesting that we often do not prepare as if those things may even happen to us. We read stories and often go ‘that’s horrible for them’ but suffer some sort of dissonance and never imagine we could be wearing those shoes ourselves. I recall roughly a scene from the book My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult where the protagonist’s dad, who is a firefighter, is at the scene of a house where a fire happened. He asks the house owners if they had insurance and they admit they don’t because they never thought something like that would happen to them. As someone who is going through a bad situation, one of those situations he thought would never happen to him (one of his daughters has cancer) he thinks to himself about the homeowner – what a privilege it is to think like that.

There’s a prominent fallacy that if we prepare for the worst – i.e. taking out life insurance, maybe even telling our family our wishes for funeral arrangements, then we’re somehow tempting fate or bringing bad ‘voodoo’ our way. This belief is prevalent in some communities more than others (I’ve even come across is many a time myself) but I believe it can be harmful. As adults, if it can be afforded, we need to be taking out life insurance and taking other necessary steps to shield ourselves and our loved ones from worst-case scenarios. It’s what I can only describe as being wise, people can be cruel and so can life in general. However, we don’t have control over other people or life in general so we need to do what we can with what we can control.

*Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Rise & Shine

More and more this year I’ve found myself longing to become more of a ‘morning person’. You know, the kind of person who happily and easily rises at 6am to go about their day. You see this all the time in magazines like Stylist where they interview businesswomen and men and without a doubt all of them awake daily at 6am, if not earlier, with yoga stretches (or a jog) and a green smoothie. They make a to-do list, listen to a motivational podcast and then feel ready to conquer the world – and make more money, of course.

I can 100% percent say that is very much not me at the moment and that most mornings can be a heavy wrestle with the bed to get up. Each effort to arise seems to sink me deeper into the mattress and the rational part of my mind which is filled with urgency and the aspirational part of my mind which has none whatsoever battle each other. I set about four alarms (I know, don’t judge me) which all annoy me and surprise in equal measure when they go off even when I know I set them. In fact, I often feel like an imposter amongst a word of mainly morning people. Of course I have to adapt to survive (and have a job) but I actually find myself more productive in the evening and night. I’ll often have random ideas float to the surface of my mind at numerous points of the night and feel the need to urgently write them down. It’s actually the process of how a lot of my poetry and some earlier blog content has been written. But it is the dream though to be more of a morning person as opposed to someone who just rises early out of necessity. I often find on the days when I can wake up slightly earlier – I have more time to psyche myself up for the day, to pray and reflect before getting ready to go to the office and/or open my laptop.

Luckily at the moment I can rely on my body clock to wake me up consistently at a reasonable time to get things done but this is still something I struggle with so I’m very open to any tips. So far I’ve read about setting a to-do list for the day, meditation, brief morning exercise and making sure you read something in the morning.

What about you, are you a morning person or night owl? And do you have any tips on how to make the most of your morning?

*Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Have a little patience

Hello folks,

It’s been a little while so it’s nice to be back. Since I last posted I’ve moved jobs, so I’ve just been adjusting to a new work setting, getting to know new people and processing bucketloads of information.

We live in a world where everything is available on demand, so it doesn’t seem too surprising that patience is a very rare trait. Get-rich-quick schemes, schemes promising to help people lose weight or gain pleasure instantly are common scams as old as time, which evolve with the times but have mainly found their success by tapping into the lack of patience people have regarding such issues. Even I’m guilty of this, I often start a new role or project and expect to pick it up in a few days. I did this at a previous job, constantly comparing myself to people at the company who had spent years honing their craft (which really makes no sense, now that I reflect on it!)

The Bible in Galatians calls patience a Fruit of the Spirit – that is, a character trait which becomes evident in a Christian as they become spiritually transformed by Christ. Patience can be easier in some circumstances than others; I’m likely to find it easier to wait 10 minutes longer for a Deliveroo order than deal for an hour with difficult personalities in a social setting, for example. However, we can start being self-aware – what things cause and stem from our impatience? Are you, putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or a situation, for example? Reflection is key, prayer is key and hopefully, together we can work towards becoming more patient people!

*Image: Photo by Osama Saeed on Unsplash

Here’s that revenge you ordered: A review of Remarriage & Desires and As the Crow Flies

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Revenge is a dish they say is typically best served cold – or piping hot, if you watch either of my watches from today’s review. My recent watches from Netflix are the K-drama, Remarriage & Desires and Turkish drama, As the Crow Flies. Both are fairly new additions to the Netlfix, with the latter being the newest series added to the service. Both dramas, although very unique, possess the common theme of revenge and a related strong rivalry between two female characters who are intent on each other’s downfall. Curious as to what on Earth I’m talking about? Let’s dive into one drama at a time.

Remarriage & Desires

As you would have guessed from previous reviews I’ve posted, I am a massive K-drama fan. Despite this though, I’ve been on a hiatus for the last few months, so this drama marks my (hopeful) comeback. Unlike typical Korean dramas, this one is only 8 episodes – which proves to be the perfect amount of time, to pace the drama, the plot and build tension, as well as character development. Without spoiling the ending too much, it has definitely been set up for a season two to take place – so be prepared that this drama will likely require a commitment of 8 episodes…but for now only.

This drama follows housewife (Seo Hye-Seung) whose life takes a sudden nosedive when scandal and an affair gone wrong force her husband to suicide and leave her unexpectedly widowed and a single mother. As she unfolds the truth of what happened to her husband, she sets her eyes on his mistress and decides to wage war – a decision that will come with tragic results.

By the time I was halfway through this drama, I was in full binge mode and had the full series complete in a few days. It’s honestly so juicy and packs a lot of punches. Unlike dramas like Sky Castle, which centres on the uber-rich, this drama is slightly different in the fact that it centres on two women who are infiltrating the world of the uber-rich but for different reasons. Jin Yoo-hui, I suspect because she’s always longed to be rich and envied the security wealth provides those that easily have it. Whilst, Hye-Seung on the other hand was doing so, not entirely voluntarily but because she saw it as a necessary step to getting closer to Yoo-hui and thus, getting her revenge.

This drama gets a 9 out of 10 for me. My only annoyance is that it was slightly slow on the romantic front. Although Seo Hye-Seung was in an obvious love triangle – her focus on revenge meant she didn’t really express interest in either guy in the triangle, so we couldn’t really read where she stood with either of them (and neither could they, based on how things were playing out!) So, to the directors of the show, when shooting the second season (which I’m convinced will happen), a little fan service won’t hurt – give us the romantic scenes we love; we want to see her enjoying herself and being in love! God knows she suffered enough in these eight episodes.

As the Crow Flies

Carrying on with the theme of revenge, we have the Turkish drama, As the Crow Flies. This series follows Lale Kiran a highflying news reader who seems to have it all, namely a national evening news show that she solely hosts. Her life starts to crumble quite dramatically, once an intern, Asli, who is determined to take her down by all means necessary, enters it.

Interestingly in this drama though, the victim of Asli’s elaborate scheming isn’t actually unlikable, this is what makes it harder to justify Asli’s scheme at all. Lale is a woman at the top with her own struggles behind the scenes (which, little does she know, are set to get worse.) I love the David Attenborough-like commentary in the show which compares the events which unfold in each episode to animals in the wild – mainly lions (those with power in the show) and the bird/crow (Asli – it’s an outsider but it’s ability to see things from a higher vantage point gives it a power the lions don’t have and easily underestimate.)

Ultimately, this drama is about power and although it’s specifically witnessed in a newsroom setting, this could apply to many industries and how they operate. A few people are positioned at the top and they maintain power typically through gatekeeping and tightening their network. Asli, as an outsider trying to get within ‘the gates’ is a bit of a rebel in some sense; determined to get power in any way possible. Her drive is really quite astounding, every move she makes is premeditated to the point you’re actually scared of her. She’s a typical Machiavellian character, her ‘two-faced’ nature helping her avoid suspicion as she plots Lale’s downfall. Asli’s downfall however, is her willingness to try and find a quick route to power, something Lale, as someone who has power, assures her does not exist. One way to look at it is a generational gap in the approach to success, Lale – in her late 30s or early 40s – grafted hard to get her role as a news anchor on prime time Turkish TV. Asli on the other hand doesn’t seem to have much skill but yet seems hell-bent on gaining a role she, therefore, isn’t even qualified for (which doesn’t make much sense.) She’s stubborn and doesn’t seem willing to put in the work to learn the skills needed for the industry, despite her internship providing the perfect opportunity to do literally just that.

Revenge is never really as fulfilling as dramas make it out to be, and I think this is reflected in the drama in some ways. Once successful, it really just starts a never-ending cycle that leaves you vulnerable – something we see at the end of the show was Asli claims she’s feeling a ‘chill’; a hint that something ominous is around the corner. I’ll give this show overall, an 8/10, closer to the end it lost momentum and some unplausible things started to happen, but luckily it recovered and picked up again (otherwise the score would have been much lower!) This series also feels set up for a season 2, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to watching that too and seeing what direction they decide to take with it.


What’s on your current watch list? Do you have any recommendations to share?

Thought of the Day: To be or not to be (political)

Every time I scroll through Hinge I find it very interesting that ‘not political’ is an option people can choose when it comes to describing their political stance/affiliation to potential matches. In all honestly, for me it’s usually a turn-off because how could you be completely ‘not political’?

In theory, I could understand the attraction of this option. It’s likely a direct product of an apathy a lot of younger generations have toward modern-day politics due to feelings of helplessness and frustration. We vote, we protest, we tweet and yet it seems we’re rarely able to shift the needle on the topics that matter to us most. But when you think about it, literally everything from the price of milk, the state of education, our pensions and healthcare is dictated ultimately by politics. Since you can’t opt-out of that fact, it’s worth staying clued up and engaging where possible with the political system at hand (even if it’s just only local politics.) In other words – just because you can be apathetic, doesn’t mean you should.

I often wonder if perhaps this trend of being ‘non-political’ is more of a Western phenomenon or a symbol of privilege. Our ability to zone in and out of the news accordingly without it impeding too much on our day-to-day is something many people across the world cannot afford to do, especially for members of marginalised communities who are always having their rights chipped away at.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed, especially on the go. Some of my usual go-to’s are below:

  • Times news briefing (for short 3-minute daily summaries (morning and evening) of a day’s key events)

*Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Thought of the Day: Picking your battles

I’ve become a big fan over the recent years of picking your battles wisely. As I observe and live, I’m learning that not everything that happens to you or around you requires you to get worked up and respond all guns blazing. For some, this revelation of mine is perhaps common sense, but when you’re someone who’s sensitive and passionate/overly emotional (yes, I’m potentially describing myself) it’s easy to fall into this trap without realising.

However, making everything a personal battle quickly leads to fatigue; feelings of frustration build up and it feels like you’re banging a brick wall – not all of these ‘battles’ can be won, and in all honesty, some don’t need to be. I think it’s only insight and spiritual wisdom that will truly help us distinguish what causes we need to fight and which we need to just let pass by and pray on. So that’s my prayer for you today!

*Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash

Embracing your inner child

I heard the cry of my inner the child the other day

The wails took me by surprise

It demanded it be heard

And said I must crawl again to truly rise

Children do not have a monopoly on creativity. Or on taking risks or truly embracing freedom either. However, we arguably seem to value these skills more in children, making sure we place them in environments where these skills can be encouraged and nurtured. You come across parents who ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over scribbles that their child has made and insist on hanging it front and centre on the fridge. Of course, this is not because it looks great (let’s be honest, most of the time it’s looking very…abstract) but because they’re early indicators of a child’s creativity and that’s exciting for them to see.

On the other hand, as an adult, you find that you quickly become more rigid in your ways, an  overthinker when it comes to risk-taking and due to work and other time-consuming commitments. You see something intriguing online for a course that’s slightly ‘out there’ but nevertheless looks fun and you think ‘ooo, that looks nice’, then you scroll past it and move on because reality calls and you realise there’s no space in your crammed schedule for such things. Next thing you know you’ve become a full-time resident of the comfort zone, which gets its name for a reason; it’s a cozy habitat, after all! 

Final results from one of the many paint kits I’ve completed since lockdown

Stepping out of that zone and picking up a new skill as an adult can be thrilling but also quite scary. It requires commitment and will but also the willingness to be vulnerable and make mistakes. During my piano practice with my teacher, I could always feel myself getting worked up when I wasn’t getting things right straight away when, in fact that’s literally part of the learning process.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been finding myself reconnecting to the things that made me the happiest as a child. Painting, singing, creative writing, even learning to play the piano recently. In fact, I was mistaken to think they ever stopped bringing me joy. I think at some point during the end of my teenage years I thought to myself, ‘I need to abandon these things and properly be an adult now, as if there is one correct way to be an adult. Boy was I wrong – from here on out, here’s to being bold and testing new waters! 😎😉

The Things We Don’t Say

It’s funny, if not tragic, that we spent much of the first part of our lives mastering the art of speech only to become adults and pretty much become rubbish at it again. Typically, when you babble your first words, your parents stumble for the camera (or camcorder back in the day) in excitement at this developmental milestone. Then, as you get older, you realise language actually only makes one part of what is this massive jigsaw puzzle called communication. So yes, you can speak – but have you fully mastered the art of communication? Probably not.

There are a lot of things people say in ways other than speaking that we have to learn to be mindful of. I say ‘learn’ because it doesn’t always come naturally to read body language or apply emotional intelligence to a situation. These are things most of us learn over time and build like muscle. It doesn’t mean it’s easy though since body language and speech can at times conflict meaning you may have to rely on other factors to make an ultimate judgment call.

Eating your words

One significant thing that is a constant challenge, for me personally anyway, is saying how I truly feel to others. I think because when you’re hyper aware of how others feel; you worry that your words may negatively impact the people you want to share them with.  And let’s be honest, the worst thing is saying words and going on to regret them. It happens way more often than it should but for those of us that like an element of control over situations – such regrets can be annoying because you can’t rewind time to take the words back, can you? Keeping everyone happy starts to feel like this weird juggling match and you can find yourself having to do the mental cost/benefits analysis of the costs of being honest (meaning you feeling happier) vs just repressing your feelings (and keeping everyone else happy.)

It’s no coincidence that there are 100s of films and dramas centered around the breakdown of communication and the problems it can cause. It’s a universal issue – sometimes you can be having a conversation with someone and what you’re saying vs what they’re hearing from you are completely different things. It’s why teaching, in my opinion, is a very underrated profession, because to make sure your instructions are heard clearly, comprehended and even remembered by students is more of an uphill battle than many would think.

Your voice is worth hearing

Being honest about your feelings sometimes is not simply a black & white situation of whether someone is a coward or not. Being able to truly lay your feelings on the table, even for people close to you, can be a challenge and this can be due to several mental blocks you may have.

You may not feel like your voice is worth hearing

Maybe you’ve expressed your views before and nothing changed which was discouraging to you

Or maybe social judgment and its repercussions leave you thinking it’s better off to not ‘kick up a fuss’.

In case you need to hear it – your voice is definitely worth hearing. Obviously, to truly get your point across sometimes you have to formulate a game plan – what is the right moment, place and method to communicate how you feel, for example? People often don’t think about such things when they want to get things off their chest but it’s definitely worth doing so. On a lot of reality TV shows I watch, they’ll often just confront someone over dinner, meaning yes, your true feelings are now on the table, but you’ve also spoiled a perfectly nice dinner – miring it with confusion and anger. That can all be avoided with a bit of simple planning.

And You?

But what about if you’re at the other end? If someone bears their all to you? Well first, of all the last thing they want is an underwhelming response. But yes, sometimes you won’t know how to appropriately react straight away so it’s worth asking them for some time to respond or just offering a listening ear, particularly if the confrontation has a personal aspect to it regarding you; i.e. ‘I don’t feel you do xx properly’ or ‘You never seem supportive of my ambitions’. Instead of jumping on the defensive (as instinctive as it may feel), a little bit of empathy can go a long way, a lot of the time it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable – so acknowledge and be appreciative of that, if anything at all.

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Why not visit my new Medium blog – I’ll be using this blog to delve into more TV and film reviews, as well as explore various themes the things I’m watching cover. Would love to hear your feedback and Medium blog recommendations you have!

Book review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

“These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful embarrassing thing, brought upon yourself in some obscure way, A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it; other people don’t want to hear the word spoken aloud for fear that they might too be afflicted, or that it might tempt fate into visiting a similar horror upon them.” (p343)

Summary

This book follows 30-year-old Eleanor as she discovers the beauty of friendship and undergoes an internal transformation that gives her the strength to confront demons from her past. (I’ve probably made the book sound less interesting than it is but that’s because I’ve tried to keep my overview just provided spoiler-free.)

Gail Honeyman: 'I didn't want Eleanor Oliphant to be portrayed as a victim'  | Fiction | The Guardian
A version of the book art commonly seen on UK bookshelves. The book sold really well in the US & UK.

This book was published in 2017 and admittedly I’ve heard a lot of hype around this book, so it’s been on my radar for quite a while (I would say about 2-3 years). But like with many things that gain a lot of chatter, I didn’t want to feel pressured into reading it because everyone else was, so I made a mental note to read it when the time was right. Nevertheless, expectations were high and I was excited to get stuck in and figure out what on Earth this book was about. The title doesn’t give away much and neither does the blurb so it is one of those ‘you have to read it for yourself’ type books, if you want to really understand the themes, characters and general storyline of the book. Please be warned that this book deals with themes of suicide, depression and emotional abuse.

The main point of intrigue for readers of this novel will be the series of events behind much of Eleanor’s trauma, although hinted at early on in the book, the details are slowly revealed later on.

Style

The novel is narrated in first person (from Eleanor’s perspective) and is split into three parts; Good days, bad days and better days. I found the choice of first-person narrative to be very beneficial to me as the reader, since Eleanor seems to observe the world, as well as the situations and people she encounters, in a unique and profound way that would be lost in, say, third person, for example. In particular, I loved how it made me feel like I was in her therapy sessions with her, as she went week after week – each session giving her a life-changing revelation.

Thoughts

My impressions upon reading are that I can see why this book captured the imagination of many readers when it was first released. Eleanor is a very quirky, and ultimately a likable character.* She tends to be very savvy, intelligent and kind-hearted; even if not obvious to those she meets at first, those character traits always come through or stand out to them by the end. Her colleagues, for example, find her peculiar and so tend to keep interactions with her to a minimum. Although the peculiarity may be an understandable first impression, Eleanor, as you grow to learn the more you get to know her, is a classic case of why appearances (and first impressions) can be deceiving.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Book Review - Hasty Book List
Alternative book art

Perhaps due to an a typical childhood, Eleanor is usually not afraid to say things how it is which leads to many awkward (and yet hilarious) public encounters which definitely feel more unique to her as an individual. For example, there was an amusing scene in the later half of the book, where Eleanor is ordering coffee with a friend, and when asked what her name is so it can be placed on her drink, she kicks up a fight, ensuring she has the right to privacy. There are not many books I read that make me laugh or smile often and this one achieved this purpose so, props to Gail for that!

My only qualm (yes, there is one, unfortunately) is that it did feel like, when it comes to Eleanor as a character, she came across as quite caricature-like at times and almost unbelievable. I mean, what 29-30-year-old individual would struggle to order pizza in this day and age? A scene in a similar vein takes place where Eleanor buys a new laptop and seems to be really unfamiliar with how to set it up because she’s never owned one before. Another scene that felt slightly unrealistic in an age where tech permeates pretty much most areas of our lives.

However, I will say for every unrealistic trait Eleanor has, there is one that resonates strongly with readers. Whether it be; the loneliness, the frequent bafflement at human behaviour, the overwhelming desire for companionship & friends, the underlying grief, that niggling ‘what is the point of this?’ feeling of life, the depression. It’s all very real stuff, the ‘baggage’ many of us carry from day to day but don’t always see reflected in the characters we read about in books.

*It’s also suspected, but not confirmed that Eleanor is neurodivergent.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this novel is one about an individual’s journey of growth, self-acceptance and change. Although it may take a while to warm to Eleanor, Gail succeeds in creating a character who you can’t help but root for and empathise with. She’s brutally honest about her flaws and mental health issues, making her relatable, if not iconic, for many readers who have or are currently walking in Eleanor’s shoes.