Easy Like Sunday Afternoon

Any day is always a good day for ice-cream in my world. Sunday afternoon, however, is a particularly good day for ice-cream. There is something magical about Sunday afternoon; the sun shines brighter, the air is softer; time moves a little slower. It’s perfect for trying out delicious new combinations.

Armed with a friend, I made my way to Gelato Crema, at Riverside Mall in Avondale; there is another branch in Borrowdale.  Gelato Crema is a fairly new space specialising in ice cream, fro-yo and baked goods; something which really has a market in Harare, especially among those with children; it’s an easy appeasement spot at a decent cost.

The space itself is positively quaint, with delicious colours stimulating your senses as you walk in, making you feel right at home. A sensory delight of baby pink, mint green, stripped awnings, light and sparkles. It’s almost like something out of a kid’s book. I love it.

 

The space is fun and pretty; the ice cream is good. The staff is very helpful and obliging; they let you have tiny tastes of the treats before you make your choice. Anyone who knows me knows that I am big on getting value for my money and being treated well where I spend my money. Life is too short to be spending your money where you are treated badly. Consumer care is pretty low in these parts, so I always note and appreciate a special effort. We really enjoyed our ice-cream date and I will definitely be going back to treat myself once in a while, especially for that positively orgasmic chocolate brownie!

 

 

While there is space to sit down, I wouldn’t recommend it because the shop is tiny. There are two tables but you are better off grabbing and going to enjoy your goodies outside in the warm sun. Just how ice-cream should be enjoyed. My friend had the Baobab and sugar-free Vanilla, while I opted for a double scoop of refreshing Peach and the brownie. Did I mention how good the brownie was?

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“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy ice-cream! It’s kind of the same thing,” the chalkboard proclaims.

Look, i’m not arguing.

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You should be listening to…

 

I’ve been making heavy use of the rotation feature on my music apps lately. I have a tendency  of finding the most amazing music, and then having the same playlist on repeat for months on end. Almost obsessively. I mean if it’s good, it’s good, right?

Then one day I will wake up feeling like I might most certainly punch a wall if I have to listen to certain songs one more time. So I drift, often in a completely new musical direction. And that’s how I end up stumbling on the best new music.  That’s the creative process for my carefully -curated playlists.

Recently, my ennui has taken me to Denmark 🇩🇰, where I discovered CHINAH. I don’t know how best to categorise them, but I would classify them as a folk band with a pop leaning coupled with electronic and classical contemporary sounds. It’s a delightful mix.

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Guitarist Simon Kjær, singer and songwriter Fine Glindvad,and electronic musician and pianist Simon Anderssonption

The sounds of Chinah are mellow and frosty. It’s a very minimalist sound over a rich instrumental.  There is an almost eerie feel to their music. You find yourself listening for hours on end, thinking about some long-suppressed past. It’s haunting and engaging- draws you in and holds you and before you know it,  you have the entire EP on repeat for a couple of hours when you really only wanted to listen to one song. It’s melancholic but pithy, and just the sort of thing you need for winter blues.

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Listen to the rest of the EP. It’s very ” Sunday-afternoon-in-bed-watching-the-grey-sky-from-your-bedroom-and-ruminating-on-a-lover-who-did-you-wrong.”

Restaurant Review- Spice Lounge

The more I work, the more I strongly believe that I might not really be cut out for it. It’s exhausting!  Work has been unrelenting and particularly stressful over the past few weeks. On Friday I got home from gym and collapsed into my bed. I woke the next morning… with a swollen face and the most lethargic spirit. So I spent the day in bed watching TV and resting. Somewhere along the third consecutive episode of Criminal Minds, I fell asleep, and continued to drift in and out of consciousness.

Around lunchtime, I woke up to a text from a friend asking if I was keen to go out to get some food. Now anyone who knows me even vaguely knows how much I love to eat good food. I really enjoy going out to eat and exploring new places with some good company over a nice bottle of white and soft background music. This particular friend is one of my consistent and favourite dinner partners, but I was so tired I literally read the text with one eye open and went back to sleep! I woke up around four and asked him where he wanted to eat. His response was that he was open to anything. We went back and forth on a few places, then our spice-loving taste-buds settled on 7 pm at Delhi Palace, an Indian restaurant by Riverside Mall.

A couple of hours later I had managed to roll out of bed and make myself look half decent. He was already waiting when I got there only to find… Delhi Palace had closed up shop and been replaced by Pariah State (Avondale branch)…

Womp womp womp.

Deflated. It was only then that I realised that I had not been out for a really long time! Making a mental note to get out more (!) I wondered whether we should go to Borrowdale Delhi Palace. But neither of us really wanted to drive that far since we were already in Avondale, so we agreed to try something else. Pariah looked like it was picking up and while I was eager to check out their new digs, I was just wanted to eat and not party hearty. More so since I had given up alcohol for Lent.

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I suggested one of my favourite places: Spice Lounge. I have never been disappointed by their food; it’s actually one of my favourite places to eat. The food is always delicious, hearty, generous portions at a fair price, in a quiet and restful environment. It’s intimate and warm and a really good spot to spend a Saturday night eating some authentic Indian cuisine. So we drove for two minutes and voila! Spice Lounge. Spice Lounge is on Lezzard Avenue, just off Prince Edward next to Kensington Shopping Centre. You really cannot miss it because they have beautiful cheerful fairy lights stringed up all along the trees and wall outside. I often wonder if that’s one of the reasons I love the place. It’s just so welcoming!

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We got there just after half seven and it was pretty quiet. The inside filled up a bit later but we chose to sit outside as it was a nice summery evening. There was one other family eating outside. It was nice and intimate, one of my favourite qualities in a place. You could be relaxing in your own home with friends.

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We were warmly greeted by the hostess and a few waiters. It was a bit of a welcoming committee to be honest! It was still pretty slow so maybe that’s why we got more than two people greeting us. Our waiter showed us to a table and gave us some drinks menus. I opted for a virgin daquiri, and “to support me” my charming date opted not to get a bottle of wine, but a martini.

 

Our waiter returned quickly with our very attractive drinks. I like that the drinks at Spice Lounge not overly finnicky; it’s a good refreshing beverage that you’re getting. The waiter returned shortly after with an amuse-bouche, and then starters- minced beef samoosas. The amuse-bouche was actually very similar to the samoosa. I asked what it was but all he said was that it was something fun!  While that didn’t tell me much, it was really good to get the appetite warmed up. It seemed like a deconstructed samoosa- crispy potato, onions, herbs- that sort of thing. It came with green chutney, greek yoghurt and sweet chilli, in three separate little bowls. The samoosas were golden tasty and crunchy- four for $5. I had wanted a butternut soup to start off but they only had tomato, so I opted not to have any. I genuinely do not like tomatoes (side-eyes Bloody Marys. I mean?)

For my main course, I opted for the prawn briyani, while my friend chose the butter chicken and naan bread. I only opted for the prawns because he is always specifically mocking me for how much chicken I eat! (But the chicken biryani is flawless I tell you.) Our food came out pretty quickly- the conversation was flowing so I didn’t really notice. The rice was delicious- thick and sticky, aromatic simply doused in spices with beautiful and just-done prawns littering it; they could have been a bit more. I opted for the medium-hot because I wanted to be able to taste my food and not overwhelm my tastebuds; prawns are such a sensitive flavour. My friend chose the hot option for his chicken. Rich, creamy, hot and plentiful.

The portions were generous and we shared the two dishes, mostly because someone decided they didn’t like the naan bread- which I found delicious and well-prepared. It was smokey and thick and warm and I loved it. He calmly worked his way through his chicken while I really cried at the little he placed on my rice! It was so delicious but unbelievably hot. The naan bread helped though. And the raita. I think he ate more of my rice than I did. It was a lovely meal. Traditional Indian music was playing soothingly in the background and it was just such a wonderful eating experience. We were too full to even look at the dessert menu. It was a really good night.

 

This is such a bad review because I do not have a single complaint, but I promise you everything was delicious and perfect!  The portions are generous and extremely flavourful. The service is attentive and warm without hovering or suffocating you; our waiter was so funny and kind and he and my date really hit it off! Sometimes they even have some great live entertainment. Parking is plentiful- inside and outside in a secure environment.

If you’re ever in the mood for some hot, well-prepared food in a beautiful relaxed atmosphere where you can talk freely and enjoy some fresh air, Spice Lounge is your spot.

 

 

You should be listening to…

So each week, and whenever I come across a gem, I will be posting music that I think you might enjoy listening to as well. Enjoy! 

My song for this week is Young, Dumb and Broke by Khalid, a millennial anthem. Why?

Who can’t relate to being young, dumb and broke? 

Khalid is a fresh-faced eighteen RnB singer who often manages to sound years older than he actually is. He has the most soothing, gravely voice overflowing with warmth, softness and sincerity that will catch you off-guard. Some of his songs can be almost hauntingly beautiful. How is this an eighteen year old? He sounds like a hundred Sunday afternoons.

The first song I heard from Khalid was “Location.” It’s delicate but upbeat, effortlessly infusing beats and melodies. It’s full; smooth, sensual, soulful. You can imagine a man telling you to cut out the games, send your location so he can romance you and be grown about it! It’s lovely. It’s youth and romance and hope and freedom.

Khalid’s full album is fittingly called American Teen, and is a collection of youth anthems full of hopeful lyrics over some heavy bass. It’s about love, youth and loneliness, longing, adventures and friendship in the summer. It has a very distinctively RnB feel of yesteryear without losing that millennial spirit. It’s heartfelt, elegant and pretty impressive all round. Not a bad effort from the new kid on the block. Definitely one worth paying attention to.

Confessions: Part One

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Confession time: I truly disliked the period of Lent when I was younger. It felt tedious and restrictive to me, a headstrong child who did not enjoy being told what to do by anyone; a quality I retain to this day. What I knew about Lent was that we didn’t sing the Gloria for about a month (which was the best part of Church to me); I couldn’t have meat on Fridays (chicken?) and I had to go to church more (snooze-fest.) Additionally, I usually had to give up chocolate and sweets and was scolded more by my mother for not being restrained enough during the period.  I didn’t fully understand it so I was a tad resentful.

 

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As I got older, I began to take an active interest in my faith and actually pay attention and understand what it meant. I am still learning. I won’t lie, my turning point came a few years ago when a certain priest mentioned that Lent did not necessarily require giving up anything.

What? Why had no one told me this before?

It reminded me of the first time the Priest mentioned that verse about children respecting their parents and then added the next verse encouraging parents to not irritate their children lest they became discouraged. No one had ever mentioned that before! Amazing.

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“Yes,” he continued. “Instead of quitting something, one can elect to take up something else!”

Yaay! You can imagine my excitement. I learnt that I could choose to take up something of my choice and focus on that. I was excited. I stopped giving up things, which had been really hard and unenjoyable for me, and tried to take up healthier habits. Looking back, I still gave up something; it was just framed differently and triggered a mindset change. I could say, I give up being rude and selfish, or I could declare that I was taking up being kinder and more careful with my words and sharing more with others who did not have as much as I do. The latter necessarily encompassed the first option, but to my mind, it was infinitely more desirable and do-able. Instead of giving up sweets, I was saving my money to help someone else. It completely changed Lent for me.

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Nowadays, my Lenten period is often a combination of actively giving something up- swearing, impatience on the road, alcohol (welp)– and taking something else up- being kinder and softer with people,  being less judgmental, giving to the poorer, donating my clothes; that sort of thing. It was and remains a work in progress. As I have gotten older, I have been able to redefine the limits of my faith and to make my own independent decisions about what I want and need to do to be right with the Lord.  As with most things, the way that people will observe Lent, if at all, is dependent on personal preferences, family situations, tradition, religion and upbringing. Some people will fast and pray; others will fast on certain days or abstain from certain things on certain days or for the entire period. The Church is not overly prescriptive and merely sets guidelines, such as: no eating meat on Fridays and on Ash Wednesday; fish is permissible; fast, give alms and pray. But there is no specific requirement. It really is all up to you in a way.

I “enjoy”  Lent because it is akin to the beginning of the week or month or year. A fresh start. It is a chance to break bad habits and consciously try again. The world we live in is incredibly distracting. It will distract you if you do not pay attention and you will wake up wondering how on earth you ended up in that situation when it would have been crystal clear to you if you were only a little less distracted. If we never acknowledge the bad in us and the need to rebuild where we are broken, we can never recover.Humility and acknowledging that one is human and weak and can fail, then workingto redress that. I have heard several people who aren’t even Catholic state that the Lenten principles are still applicable and they take the time to reflect and make some changes. I imagine if you fervently made New Year’s Resolutions and have fallen off the wagon, you can kick-start them again in month 3 without too much damage.

Lent is a time to rebuild the broken. Broken hearts, spirits, relationships, bodies. We break so that we can rebuild. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be happy. I have been actively pursuing my joy and happiness and am using this time to consolidate that.

It is not necessary to “give up something” but it would be a tragedy to do nothing. “

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This year, for Lent, I have committed to various things. Some of them were spiritual, like dedicating more time to my relationship with God, which requires unplugging earlier and resting my body and meditating and praying. This also involves stressing less and letting go of anxiety and reading my Bible where I would normally be on the internet. Some of them were to make secular changes such as  changing my gym and finding a new space to work out in . Another is to avoid getting angry on the road which will help me be calmer and more relaxed in my commutes and interactions. It’s just little things which I hope will help me establish a new routine which will extend even beyond Lent. Overall I hope they will contribute to my spiritual growth and holistic health.

What exactly is Lent?

Lent: etymology- English word Lenten- springtime- the time of lengthening days. The most important holiday in the Church is not actually Christmas; it is Easter. The Lenten period is a time of fasting, prayer, abstinence and patience as the great day approaches. It is worth noting that Catholics do not normally fast,  but in this period, it is greatly encouraged, particularly on the Holy Days such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Throughout history, Christians have embraced prayer, fasting and giving alms as necessary components of repentance and forgiveness. Even in pre-Christian times, to show repentance, people would dress in sackcloth and sprinkle themselves with ashes to show humility and repentance. What could be deemed more humble than donning sackcloth and rolling around on the ground? Over the years, emphasis was placed on not making a show of humility and repentance, but actually being sorry and making amends, even without the external showing of it. Nowadays, the ash ritual is limited to Ash Wednesday where a cross is made on the forehead of believers, a reminder that you are ash and you will return to ash. The ashes are from the burnt offerings of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday- another important Church holiday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the (technically) forty days of Lent. Lent is a period of humility and sacrifice; a solemn period where you get back to basics about faith.

The forty days of Lent are reminiscent of the forty days and forty nights Jesus spent being tempted and provoked by the Devil in the wilderness while he prayed and fasted after his baptism by John the Baptist and before he began his teachings. Jesus knew that he had a serious job ahead of him and needed to prepare himself. In the same way, Catholics prepare themselves for the joy that is coming. It’s a period of self-reflection and examination to allow you to emerge free of ugliness and ready to celebrate Easter renewed and joyous. I think that’s quite a beautiful concept.

 

Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30 : 5

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Ode to Self: Birthday Post

It was my birthday two days ago and I truly had such a lovely day!  I was supposed to go on a girl’s trip for my birthday but that fell through. There was a lot of drama in the lead up to my birthday and I got really frustrated and irritated at how everything that could go wrong, was going wrong, so I decided to cancel all my plans and spend most of the day alone just to make sure it went exactly how I wanted it to go; control I suppose. Low expectations, no disappointment. Funnily enough, I actually ended up spending only a relatively small part of the day alone. I spent the day not with the people I would have expected to, but it was a day full of so much love, effort, intention and good wishes that I actually felt a little overwhelmed! I certainly was not disappointed. I chose to focus only on the positivity and joy instead of those little niggling ugly feelings that always seem to crop up. I can’t be the only one who gets a little weepy, sensitive and nostalgic around my birthday.

I went to church in the morning and thanked God for all the blessings he has given me so far; my family, my friends, my health, my job, my capabilities and my love. I got home to a giant delivery of the prettiest flowers; I couldn’t stop geeking out over how big the bouquet was! Everyone knows how much I love flowers and plants and it was really lovely that someone remembered and actually did something about it!

Then I went to the spa all alone and had the most delectable experience. I was so relaxed and warm and calm. I even fell asleep a little during my massage! I think you get the point; it was amazing. Afterwards I had a late lunch with a friend who insists on calling it “lunner “at a quaint little Greek deli which we have now decided is our new favourite joint. Unbelievably tasty food at a great price. Double winner!  We had Mezedakia, a trio of tzatziki, hummus and skirdalia. Then we had Skara Sti Pita, which is a carb-loaded traditional Greek pita filled with meat, tzatziki, chips(!) and a salad. I had the bifteki and my friend opted for the pork. Hands down the most delicious thing I have eaten in a while. Then we had a giant plate of beautiful lemon-flavoured prawns. Gin and Vodka also made an appearance. It was just so good! Unfortunately my phone died so I didn’t get to take any decent pictures of the amazing food, but when we go back next time, I will definitely share with you. I think it deserves its own feature.

On my way home, I unfortunately hit the most massive pothole while attempting to avoid another pothole.Sigh. That’s how these things go. My tyre completely gave in and I was really lucky I hadn’t been going faster. Two young men stopped and helped me change the tyre; they even waited for my Mom to come when we realised one of the things we needed for the jack was missing. I was so grateful and touched by the kindness of complete strangers. They didn’t have to do that for me, but they did, without expecting anything. People can really surprise you like that.

I got home safe, happy and fed, to a few more presents and lovely words.My friend was laughing at me that I could remain cheerful after such an awful experience, but it is part of my new strategy to enjoy my life in 2017. I am not very good at letting things go and at having things be out of my control. I have been beating myself up mentally for not paying more attention when I was driving, despite knowing how awful the roads are and that it was bound to happen at some point.

I like to plan, yes even to the point of over-planning. I can even drive myself crazy second-guessing myself; it is exhausting. I am learning to relax a little and let it all fall together. I have had to learn that is not always possible, especially when you are dealing with other people and they have their own lives going on. No one owes you anything. A difficult but necessary lesson, and what better time to learn it than going into a new year on my birthday?

Look at me. A year older and already wiser. Thankful and glowing.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Mountain Getaway

At the end of 2016, I was exhausted. My sleeping habits were a mess and my appetite was virtually non-existent; I was deeply stressed, unhappy, emotional and harassed. People were bullying and manipulating me, lying to me, hurting me, and I was going out of my mind wondering what on earth was going in my life. I was completely depleted and crawled through the last two months of the year. I won’t lie; with each day, it was harder and harder for me to get out of bed. I was going to the gym pretty much daily, but I felt really weak. Wake up, shower, get dressed; neat bun, lipstick, fix on a smile and try harder than I normally had to, to concentrate on my work. It was one of the hardest periods of my life as an emerging adult. No matter how tearful and broken you are, you still have to show up, clean, polished, smiling and charming. Get through an entire day without cracking, then go home and prepare for a repeat. There was so much negativity and ugly energy in my life. I was hurt, angry, frustrated and heartbroken. I really needed a break.

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I knew what I needed: a get-away. Somewhere deep in the mountains, remote and mysterious; still; a little fresh stream running by the side of a white cottage, hunks of firewood hewn and sitting by the side of a rock fireplace ready for the night. I could picture it. Somewhere cold, clean and fresh. Extra blue sky, thick, billowing milky white clouds sighing gently and lazily pushing each other side to side, mist weaving through the thick tree-trunks. A new start. I wanted to purge every single emotion, bawl my eyes out, go running until I couldn’t breathe from the cold air piercing my lungs and could only concentrate on my next breath and nothing more. Eat some fresh fruit, drink icy-cold hard water, immerse my body in even colder water, pray for deliverance and reflect on my life.  Shake off the pain, hurt, fear and loss of the year.

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Talk to God.

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When I was younger, my closest cousins lived everywhere around the country. They moved from Chindunduma to Madziva to Chiredzi and to countless other places I no longer recall. I remember travelling to see them- for a birthday party, for a holiday visit. But what I remember most was when they moved to the mountains. At some point my uncle finally decided to settle and chose the Eastern Highlands region.  They still moved around from time to time, but it was now concentrated within the region. It was closer than other places they had lived in, so when we had the chance, we would travel down to their side of the world. It was then that I first fell in love.

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I have been to the Eastern Highlands numerous times over the years. I remember for our Grade Seven trip we went to a camp called Far and Wide. Unfortunately there was a cyclone passing through the region and most of the trip for the teachers and chaperones involved panicked parents checking in to make sure their beloved children had not been swept away. Blissfully unaware of the drama, we swam in the Mtarazi River every morning mispronouncing it like the white lady who ran the place did. It was only a few years later that we realised that the correct pronunciation is actually the Shona Mutarazi and not Mmm… Tarahziii. Those morning sessions before we hit the team building poles and trails were brutally freezing and supposedly character-building; I don’t remember where the certificate I got for lasting the week is, today. But I remember how great a time we had, completely oblivious of the panic our parents were apparently going through. Youth!! I’m not sure if Far and Wide is still functional, but it still looked pretty good when we drove past on the way to the Mtarazi Falls, so I am hopeful that it is still serving other children.

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I love to travel; I always have. My mom enjoys reminding me that when I was younger I would confidently declare that I wanted to be a tourist when I grew up. We traveled quite a lot when we were younger and I guess it has just stuck. I love the idea of packing up and going far away for a bit, to find a different piece of myself. It calms and centres me. And I always look forward to coming home to my bed after a healthy jaunt full of overexertion, love and reflection. I hate not having the money to do it more, but it is something that I have prioritised going forward, so I pray it works out.

The Eastern Highlands remains one of my favourite spaces, and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the world. I always feel at peace when I am there. Completely light and magical. Time moves slower, the air is cleaner, the company keener, the earth feels more solid beneath my feet. I can breathe again. I think in a few years once I have made my first few hundred thousands in the corporate rat race, I will be investing in a cottage property deep in the mountains far away from the stress of daily life. It really is a hermit life. There isn’t even a supermarket anywhere close!  Everything is locally sourced. Fish, fresh fruit, vegetables, wild mushrooms.

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Gorgeous locally grown peaches.

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The area is well-known for a fantastic fishing experience and beautiful Trout.

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I went for early morning runs through the mud and dew with my Dad; pointlessly winding explorations with my sisters while my mom slept soundly and graciously declined all invitations to go outside until the rain stopped or at least until the bacon was fried and safely in her stomach! I was glad everyone was getting what they needed. You don’t know how wonderful it is to wander and to get lost in whatever you are doing with no conception of time and schedules and deadlines. Bitterly cold air, breathtaking sights, overwhelming greenery, earthy new potatoes, sweet white wine and scalding local tea. Finally putting the off-road vehicle to full use and not just navigating the gaping potholes in the city. Family and love. It was calming and a beautiful end to an unbelievably ugly year. Even writing about it now is making me happy and calm.

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Hydrangeas change colour depending on the alkalinity of the soil they grow in. World’s End, Nyanga, Zimbabwe

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More than anything, I was happy. My phone was reduced to a fantastic camera and not a source of stress. For a change, my earphones were not semi-permanently attached to my ears blocking out the noise as there was no noise! I was not running. Not figuratively at least. I was calm, restful and peaceful. I was happy. You have no idea how important it is to have those things in your life. The men who had been stressing me out were the last thing on my mind. No one was making demands of me or angering me. Zero distractions. It was one of the purest experiences I enjoyed the whole year, and I returned clean and soft and glowing, inside-out, determined to cling to those feelings for as long as possible.

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One of my colleagues asked me what my resolutions are for the year.

“To be happy,” I replied.

“Wow. That’s a lot. In a way, it’s everything,” was his response.

And I smiled because he got it. I am my top priority this year. My happiness, my peace of mind, my goals and success. Me. No compromises. Because what I learnt from my first real year of being an adult in an adult environment, was how easy it is to get lost and be drowning in things that have no place in your life. It sounds childlike to actively work for happiness, but I have found that the only way to get what you want and need, is to actively fight for it. It will never come to you while you sit and absorb the mundane unhappiness and drudgery of everyday life. You have to fight for it, and hang onto it for as long as it will have you. I am grateful I learnt that lesson.

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Thank you for reading.❤️️

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

 

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