• travel diaries – paris

    Straight off, let it be known that I have been obsessed with France, and in particular, Paris, for almost my entire life. An insatiable appetite for romance novels featuring desirable scenes from the city of love and an unhealthy obsession with the movie French Kiss combined with having a French heritage meant that France was(…)

  • travel diaries – amsterdam

    I knew Amsterdam was going to be amazing, but I didn’t know quite how much I’d fall in love with this little city. I was expecting canals and tall skinny buildings squashed up next to one another like new lovers. I was expecting bicycles and stoners and beer. I got all of these, but to(…)

  • my lovely world

    things that made my week lovely homemade dark chocolate squares. long skype conversations with my beautiful sarah may. crossing fingers and toes that her and grumpy can meet us for a night or two in paris. or barcelona. pretending to pack for our trip but really just trying on all the clothes and creating different(…)

  • *giveaway* tous les jours organic skincare products and sleepwear

    I’m not sure if you’ve noticed my slight obsession with Tous Les Jours lately? It started off with their pyjamas and home wear and then they very kindly sent me a box of their brand new 100% natural skincare range to try out. Lucky girl! I cannot explain how much I love my pyjamas –(…)

  • how to travel

    Right now the only thing I can really think about is our upcoming Europe trip, so if you’re in no way inclined to want to travel the world, this post will probably be of no interest to you. But since I was a little girl (I blame all the novels), I have dreamed of seeing(…)

  • where women walk

    You may have noticed that I’ve mislaid my blogging legs over the last few weeks. Between an intense fitness programme, a little extra workload, some exciting new projects to play with and a recent horrible bout of flu, time has been limited. I also am at a stage right now where I’m not feeling very(…)

  • my kayla itsines bikini body programme: 12 weeks done and dusted – the results

    So this week marks the last week of my 12 Week Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide – but it is by no means the end of my health and fitness journey. Ironically, I have come down with a bout of flu, which has been a shock to my mind, although I think my body is probably(…)

  • hamba – the dunlop road trip adventures

    As I’m sure you’ve all gathered by now, the Ginger and I are off to Europe in September for three weeks of exploring, playing, wining and dining (or eating at service stations once our measly ronds are all used up). I cannot wait and I may or may not have purchased coloured cardboard already in(…)

  • to live like a king for very little by thor harris

    My wise mom posted this gem written by rocker, Thor Harris, and I had to share it for keepsies. Especially loving number 4, 5, 10, 13 and 17. Happy Friday you beautiful creatures! X 1. Don’t smoke cigarettes. 2. Drive old Japanese cars. Easy and cheap to fix and they run for fucking ever. 3.(…)

  • current state of mind

    As you all know by now I’m sure, I am currently on an intense physical journey. My mind is full of things such as monitoring heart rates, muscle tone, energy, strength, nutrition, stretching, fat burn, average paces, burpees, decline push-ups, commandos, running, power walking and more. I am almost at the end of my tenth(…)

travel diaries – paris

Straight off, let it be known that I have been obsessed with France, and in particular, Paris, for almost my entire life. An insatiable appetite for romance novels featuring desirable scenes from the city of love and an unhealthy obsession with the movie French Kiss combined with having a French heritage meant that France was always on my bucket list. Have I mentioned that I love wine? Oh, and at one stage I truly believed that I was a descendant of Joan of Arc… although I’m pretty sure she never had children.

paris1

I had high hopes for Paris. And to tell the truth, she was not like anything I had imagined. While she is still utterly and breathtakingly beautiful in my eyes, she now has an edge to her… an edge that makes her more real. And just like a lover discovering new angles and personalities to their partner, so has my relationship with Paris become more complex. She is a contradiction. She is beautiful and dirty at the same time and she can turn from being as friendly as a summer breeze to as mean as cat shit in a single moment.

Before we left, someone said to us that four days in Paris was too much. I disagree completely – although my wallet is breathing a sigh of relief as we leave! I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this enormous city. There are so many more areas and suburbs and little shops and galleries to explore and so many more croissants and coffees to taste (I have re-newed my obsession with espresso thanks to a rather condescending waitress near Notre Dame. She may have been condescending, but she was right – the French usually are. A short, strong coffee is so much better than a long Americano). And then there is still the entire French countryside waiting for my return!

Visiting Paris has left me wanting to tame the French and to make Paris my bitch. I want the Parisians to fall in love with me as much as I love them… and that’s the attraction of the French – their self-assuredness in their absolute marvellousness makes them irresistible. They know they have the best style and the most delicious wines and greatest literature and that they brought about the modern world as we now know it. They truly believe that they are the best. And that is why you either love them or hate them – with a passion. And believe me, I don’t think they would have it any other way.

things you need to know about paris

Taxi Drivers

We got to and from our hotel via taxi and then everywhere else by the Paris Metro. If you’re already a fan of Uber, I recommend using them above the city taxi’s. Both our taxi drivers were rude to the point of where I wanted the floor to swallow me up. Don’t expect a friendly chat or even civil silence – they sit on their phones and swear and hoot at other drivers. Our last taxi driver in particular ripped us off something crazy – and even charged us two euros each for our bags on top of a ludicrous starting fee of eight euros twenty. Perhaps not all taxi drivers are like this, but we will definitely be sticking to only Uber taxi’s from now on – at least their system is internationally standardised and your trip will be far more pleasant – not to mention cheaper. And every euro counts in Paris, believe me!

The Metro 

The Paris Metro is fabulous and quick, but rather difficult to get the hang off in terms of stops and direction. I recommend downloading the app Metro Paris and familiarising yourself with the routes before you get there to help you with finding the correct lines to take to get to certain locations – it is a life saver! Just a warning, there are some crazies on the metro, especially on the weekend – in four days we saw a man walking up and down preaching (loudly) to whomever happened to glance at him; two guys rapping and breakdancing, as well as numerous other musicians busking on the metro. This mainly happens over the weekend – but do not feel that you need to give them money. As for the crazies, just ignore them – there are usually lots of other “normals/muggles” just like you on the metro, and I didn’t feel threatened once. The metro is self regulating in this way. Fellow passengers are civil and polite on the metro, just remember to steer clear of the doors and passageways when others are getting on and off. If you have any questions, the people at the ticket and information offices at each station are very helpful, so don’t be scared to ask for help!

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I was petrified of the French before I left, especially of the Parisians. I had been told that they are rude, unhelpful and that they would pointblank refuse to help you or speak English. We only dealt with two unfriendly people – and they were both taxi drivers who probably deal with tourists every second of their working day and hate the crap out of them. Everyone else was nice and spoke English back to us. Listen, we didn’t make any life long friends, but we are travelling as a couple and Paris is a big city, choc-a-bloc full of tourists. To be honest, if I lived there, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure that every tourist felt special – it would be impossible, not to mention exhausting.

Dress me like a French Girl

Yes, the French women really are effortlessly gorgeous. Within 48 hours I had cracked their style code from my careful observations on the metro and sidewalks. French girls don’t try hard – their hair is simple, usually loose or tied up in a messy bun; their faces are mostly natural and make-up free, save for mascara and some red lippy here and there. They don’t care about their wrinkles or freckles – and I think it’s this confidence that is key to their style success. They are worlds apart from the poppies in stilettos frequenting the greater malls of Gauteng. Their uniform is simple – skinny jeans or cigar pants, a simple tee or blouse, a biker jacket or blazer, a scarf and wedges or ballet pumps. No name brands anywhere – especially not on the front of their shirts! They wear very little accessories, except for maybe a cocktail ring or a pair of pretty earrings – but never both at the same time, and always paired with a classic watch. This way of dressing is tried and tested, ensuring that they look beautiful, but are still able to walk and travel in comfort.

Light me Up

If you detest cigarettes and smoking, Paris is probably not going to be very enjoyable for you. The Parisians smoke a lot and from the time you open your window in the morning and your nostrils are greeted by the fresh smell of burning tobacco, to the time you go to bed with your hair smelling of smoke, you will be surrounded by cigarettes and smokers. The streets are littered with cigarette buds and you are able to smoke on the sidewalks outside restaurants and shops – even if you are under cover. It’s wise to remember that in Paris, especially at outside tables, you will be squashed between strangers – both sets of whom will very likely be smoking. Stick to indoor eating as much as possible if you can’t cope. As for the rest of the time, there’s not much you can do but embrace it as part of the culture. Imagine you’re in the ’70s.

The Sights

Paris is painfully beautiful. Whilst Amsterdam was unique and quirky in her architecture, Paris is just straight-up elegant and impressive. Every building is beautiful, every street corner glorious. We walked the streets of Montmartre for hours, just checking out the beautiful buildings with their massive blue doors and pretty little balconies. History is around every bend and I often had to pinch myself to relax and remind myself to just bask in the pure beauty of my surroundings (and to ignore the frequent stench of human urine). We went up The Eiffel Tower and we went to see the Musee du Louvre, the Château de Versailles, the Sacrè Cœr, Notre Dame, the Arc De Triomphe, Champs Eylsees, the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop and the famous restaurant, Angelina. The only place we didn’t get around to seeing was the Centre George Pompidou, which apparently has amazing views of the city from the top. We stayed in Montmarte so we could literally see the famous red windmill of the Moulin Rouge if we looked up the street from our hotel, and the Sâcre-Cœr was in easy walking distance. All the sights were amazing and so awesome to see in real life – the Eiffel Tower was particularly mind-blowing – I really didn’t expect it to be that huge. I don’t know if I’d go right up to the top again though – it was freaking terrifying up there. I swear the building was moving! But it was incredible none the less and an experience I’ll never forget.

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One thing I was a bit disappointed with was the museum management at Versailles – within the museum I felt like a cow being herded through a cattle crush, and all I could really see was other people holding up camera phones – all trying to get a pic of something they couldn’t see in real life – just so that they could remember a bit of the experience they had paid fifteen euros for. I got the hell out of there as quick as possible because I felt so claustrophobic – which is really sad, because as a lover of history and having taught the French Revolution myself, I would have loved to have taken my time around the place. The gardens were a welcome respite – but also another 9 euros to enter. I did leave Versailles feeling a little ripped off and with a rather bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps the museum management needs to review the amount of persons they let in at a time and enforce time slot bookings? However, I got the feeling that for them it was all about the money – not the sharing of a very special and important part of their history.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetKeep your bags zipped up and held close to you at all the tourist attractions – hagglers and pickpockets abound. Do not give them money and do not sign any petitions. We saw a Frenchman rescue a tourist from the clutches of a couple of Romanian women pretending to be deaf and trying to guilt him onto giving them cash. They miraculously learnt to hear and speak within minutes and after swearing at the Frenchman, retreated to a corner for a cigarette and a chat. Do not give these people money as you are simply encouraging them to continue. By all means, buy souvenirs from the people trying to make an honest living, but don’t be conned by the beggars or gamblers – especially those around the Eiffel Tower and at the Sacrè-Cœr.

The best time to sightsee in Paris is in September as summer is almost over and so while the weather is still good, there are much less crowds. For major attractions like The Eiffel Tower and the Château de Versailles, its best to get there early (before 9am) to avoid long queues.

Wining and Dining

Ah… my best part! Bittersweet was our experience of food and wine in Paris – because while it was mostly all delicious, the prices were astronomical. To avoid completely blowing our daily budget, we’d usually have a yoghurt from the supermarket for breakfast, a sandwich or baguette from a local patisserie for lunch and then go out for dinner in the evenings. A meal for two in Paris with a starter each and their cheapest bottle of wine will set you back at least R750.00. In fact we paid forty six euros for two burgers, two beers and a glass of house wine at a trendy burger joint (similar in style and setup to Cafe Royale in Cape Town) for lunch! Choose which meal and where you want to eat out each day and then for the remaining meals, stick to patisseries and supermarkets. We found a beautiful little place behind our hotel where we could have three croissants and a coffee each for under five euros (R75) for breakfast. To put this in perspective, Subway will charge ten euros (R145) for one sandwich in Paris, so breakfast there would be three times as much for two people.

pain au chocolatIn Paris, you must try the crepes (I had a delicious one on the way to Notre Dame) and drink coffee French style – short, black and sweet (similar to a South African espresso, but slightly larger). I was determined to eat French cuisine and after an initial disappointing traditional meal in a restaurant located right in a tourist hub, I had some of the best food of my life at a little local French restaurant called Clairière right behind our hotel. I had the duck l’orange and it was drool-worthy. So drool-worthy that we came back the following night to try out their platters and steak, which were just as great. The house wine was relatively cheap there and if you stay in Montmartre, you must give it a try. Sit outside on the sidewalk for the ultimate French experience (and to get away from the rather kitsch decor inside).

duck l'orangeIf you have a sweet tooth, Angelina is a must-visit. Their world-famous hot chocolate is non-negotiable – you simply have to have it. Their sandwiches looked amazing too, but also pretty pricey. Arrive after or before lunchtime to avoid the queues.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetAnother place we loved in our area was le Depanneur Pigalle (the pricey one similar to Cafe Royale in Long Street). Every time we walked past it was packed with locals and we treated ourselves to lunch there on the last day – dreamy hamburgers, Californian-style with delicious homemade french fries. Amazeballs. Most of the food in Paris is good, but I would advise staying way from eating at places directly next to major tourist sites – purely for the price. Stick to suburbs or local areas for good quality, reasonably priced food and wine. If you see that there are loads of Parisians there – it’s probably going to be good and reasonably priced.

photo 1-2We stayed at Hotel Villa Boheme in the Pigalle area of Montmarte. Hotel rooms are tiny in Paris, but we were super happy with our location and loved the fact that there were a lot of locals in this area. It is a party district with people falling out of the clubs at 10am on Saturday morning, but we were never disturbed in any way. In fact, we had a good giggle at some of the funnies wandering about. The area around the Moulin Rouge and Sacrè-Cœr was very touristy, but just few streets down and you felt like you were in the thick of Parisian life. We particularly enjoyed drinks at a bar near our hotel, watching French kids play street football and stopping little old French ladies walking their dogs for a little canine cuddle and a chat. One French lady had two pekingeses and we immediately bonded over our mutual affection of them (doggie-lovers unite!). The best thing I’ve learnt about traveling so far is that no matter where you are in the world, we’re all just humans, muddling along in search of love, friendship and a little attention. Smile, be polite, say merci and you will have a jolly old time in the city of love. I can’t wait to one day sink my teeth further into this city!

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travel diaries – amsterdam

I knew Amsterdam was going to be amazing, but I didn’t know quite how much I’d fall in love with this little city. I was expecting canals and tall skinny buildings squashed up next to one another like new lovers. I was expecting bicycles and stoners and beer. I got all of these, but to be fair, I came away with so much more. In those tall, skinny houses are people from all over the world – Amsterdam is filled not only with people who were born there, but with people who have chosen this city as their home, simply because she is so cool. How do I describe the loveliness? I’m all about flying your freak flag and embracing who you are – for the Dutch this isn’t just a floating hope for humanity – it’s mandatory – written in their constitution and shit. Amsterdam is a self-regulating society and people do what they want, but at the same time, remembering to respect the needs and wishes of those around them. I saw a woman knock over another woman cyclist by mistake. Instead of screaming and shouting at each other, she stopped her car immediately, helped the cyclist up, parked her car on the verge and then the two sat on a nearby park bench, chatting for half an hour, the driver with her hand reassuringly on the cyclist’s leg. Afterwards they exchanged numbers, hugged, and went on their separate ways. I wondered if this would happen in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Amsterdam is feminine and compassionate and thoughtful and I have lost quite a large piece of my heart to her.

There is a massive feeling of freedom in Amsterdam – but the kind of freedom that can only come from being loved and comfortable and taken care of. And this is how you feel here – you are a person with an opinion and a dream and your wishes are respected and taken into account – just as everyone else’s are. You are not the product of your skin colour, who your parents are or what school you went to. You are a valuable and contributing member to society. The Dutch are not into materialism or fancy cars and houses and clothes – they value education, design, travel and me-time… hey, I seriously could live there! At first, I did find the locals to be a little distant, but by the end of our stay, I discovered that you just have to be the one to say hello first – and then straight away, you are greeted with a smile and a “Good Morning” in reply. I think they probably are all just a little weary of all the narcotics-obsessed tourists… and yes, there are a lot of them. We saw a group of English teenagers straight off the plane, still carrying their suitcases and headed off into the Smoke Palace near our hotel. There are, of course, still people who come into Amsterdam purely for the red lights and cannabis, but there really is so much more to this pretty city.

things i loved in ‘dam

1. The Sunday Market in Westerpark

This market is only held on the first weekend of the month, so if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam and love markets, try and make it for then. It reminded me of a mix between the iHeart Market in Durbs and the Olde Biscuit Mill in Cape Town. What I loved about this market was that it wasn’t at all touristy and the wares on sales were really unique. I could have spent all my money on gorgeous bits of jewellery and notepads (oh, the notepads! Amsterdam is a stationery addict’s dream!). We settled on two prints of Amsterdam by Ellessi for our home. There was so much food on sale – from Lebanese cuisine to traditional Dutch pancakes as well as an entire stand of olives! After we’d window shopped, we drank some sangria and beer in the sun and listened to a local Dutch singer belting her heart out. It was really a great way to start off our time in Amsterdam.

2. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Dutch craft beer is made and sold here in a massive windmill and its beer garden which you just can’t miss! The vibe reminded both Andrew and I very strongly of The Forrester’s Arms in Claremont – relaxed and festive! Orders are made at the bar and the snacks on offer to munch on while guzzling your beer are traditional worst and cheese. Which in retrospect, we should have eaten. We also should have, in retrospect, ordered the tasting boards, instead of half a draught each of all eight types of beers. Yep, we were pretty tanked when we left. If you are a lover of craft beer, or beer in general, this place is a must. We loved it and sat there for a good couple of hours before stumbling home. The brewery does offer tours on the weekend, and if you are looking to sit in the sun and drink on a Saturday or Sunday, make sure you get there early to reserve your spot. Apparently it gets so busy in summer that the queues for the bar go right out of the front door and onto the street! Worth it!

3. Bakers & Roasters

You will soon find out that the Dutch love bread and cheese! Not many restaurants offer healthy salads, but this little spot on the way to the Heineken Museum was a gem! I had the Energy Salad with extra sesame seed crusted chicken breast and it was so delicious! Don’t even get me started on the magical Thai-influenced balsamic vinaigrette. It was rather pricey at thirteen euros (R180), but honestly one of the best things I ate in Amsterdam. The cafe itself was new and modern with the nicest staff and amazing looking cakes and fresh juices. It was also the only place where the waitress actually offered us a jug of tap water with lemon and ice – if you ask for tap water anywhere else, be prepared for looks of disgust.

4. Cafè Finch

Another great place for amazing salads (and the lamb burger is just crazy delicious too) is Cafe Finch. Located near Westerpark, we were taken here by a South African local for dinner – and even on a Monday night it was busy. Apparently on the weekends, the little place heaves and quickly transforms from a restaurant into a bar as the evening progresses. The decor was, like most trendy new Amsterdam spots, delightful. I fell particularly in love with the cheesy Arnold Schzwaggener gym portraits.

5. Pacific Parc

Situated in Westerpark, this is the perfect place for weekend and evening drinks. The drinks are (relatively) cheap and the vibe is super-chilled. On Sunday afternoon, the place was packed and not one seat was available. Take the time to visit the upstairs bathrooms and marvel at the graffiti. I felt very at home here! Like a lot of bars in Amsterdam, you order at the bar and then take your drinks to your seat.

6. Rijksmuseum

We did not have a lot of time to museum hop, and to be honest, it’s not mine and Andrew’s favourite thing to do. We prefer eating and drinking and street walking. We were told that if you only visit one museum in Amsterdam, make it the Rijks Museum, as it contains a little of everything Dutch-history related. We were warned about long queues, but as soon as we arrived, we waltzed straight in. We were told that the queues are painfully long in the summer – another great reason to visit Amsterdam in autumn! The museum was huge, but we did manage to see every floor and it was really cool to see Self Portrait by Van Gogh in the flesh/paint. Andrew loved the military and weaponry displays (guns and swords for days) and I loved the wedding dresses from the 18th century. The women were so tiny back then that the weddings dresses mostly looked like today’s flower girl dresses. Then again, I guess they were married pretty young in those days. This museum was first class – recommended for all couples!

7. Anne Frank Huis

As a History major and teacher, this was one place I really wanted to go. I must have read Anne Frank’s Diary at least a dozen times throughout my life, and for me, Amsterdam was never about weed or sex shows, but about Anne Frank. And cheese. Ha! Seriously though, this was a must for me. Pre-book your tickets online and avoid the queue, especially if it is summer or holiday time. It was surreal to be in the exact house where Anne and her family were holed up for two years in an attempt to escape the clutches of the Nazi’s. It really hit home how dark and cramped their living conditions were and it was no wonder they all went a little cuckoo. I felt claustrophobic within ten minutes! Even the hardest of hearts will not leave feeling un-moved.

8. Restaurant De Kas

The original Bablystoren located near our hotel in Oosterpark, this was the only place we had booked to eat at before even leaving South Africa. I booked lunch because dinner there costs R750 per person. Ya. For lunch Andrew and I shared three starters and a main meal. Everything served at De Kas has been organically grown in their greenhouses and they work closely with meat and poultry farmers in the Netherlands to ensure that all food is as organic and naturally-produced as possible, and I’m not joking – you can taste the difference. The flavours were exquisite! While we were there they were growing tomatoes in the restaurant greenhouse and I was amazed at the different colours and varieties. As for the design of the restaurant, no words. I have never eaten in such a beautiful setting in all my life. Honestly, the experience is so worth the bankruptcy. Next time (after I’ve won the lottery), I definitely want to go at night for dinner and sit in the beautiful bar and lounge area.

9. Vlaamsch Broodhuys

Just down the drag from Anne Frank Huis, this was hands down the best coffee I had in Amsterdam and I will be going back if only for the aniseed biscuits! Mother of glory. Another trendy little joint in the Kloof Street of Amerstdam, this bakery and coffee shop is tucked away next to a barber shop and if I had had more time I would have gone and sat there for hours with my laptop – just to bask in its awesomeness.

amsterdamWe stayed at The Manor Hotel Amsterdam – Hampshire Eden near Oosterpark, which was awesome as we were able to go for morning runs in the park almost every day. The hotel was clean and the staff great. Breakfast was a hefty seventeen euros fifty – unless you remembered to pre-book, which made it twelve euros fifty. We got about mostly by trams and walking – the public transport system is so amazing! Make sure to purchase and load up your OV-Chipkaart at Central Station as you get there – it’s much cheaper than buying a ticket every time you get on. You can also hire bikes, which are fun too – just don’t get in the way of locals and be vigilant at intersections. We didn’t take any tours, as we prefer wandering about and seeing where we end up – but I did see a couple of bike tours taking place, and they look awesome. Comfy shoes are a must in Amsterdam – all the locals wear sneakers – even with their suits and dresses, so you will not feel out if you don yours every day!

We visited Amsterdam in September, which we heard was the best time to visit. We had only about five minutes of rain our entire time there – the rest of the time the weather was mild with sunshine. Dress in layers – the sunshine is warm! September is also a great time to visit because summer is almost over and with the slightly cooler days comes less tourists which means less of a hustle and bustle. If you’re a health nut, pack your workout gear – Amsterdam is full of parks and wide roads to run on, as well as cycle paths for the bike-enthusiasts. There are people exercising there all the time – it really is refreshing. Design and aesthetic freaks – you will just love this city. Hangouts are usually really modern and tastefully decorated and screaming with originality. You will not be able to stop taking photos – trust me. Ahhhhh – take me back already!

Next stop: Paris!

For more images and to keep in touch with my daily travel adventures over the next few weeks, follow me on Instagram, @midlandsmusings.

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my lovely world

things that made my week lovely

homemade dark chocolate squares.

long skype conversations with my beautiful sarah may. crossing fingers and toes that her and grumpy can meet us for a night or two in paris. or barcelona.

pretending to pack for our trip but really just trying on all the clothes and creating different outfits for different travel scenes in my mind.

lulu’s fat hamster hair cut. god, she’s cute!

starting a new yoga challenge with mariska.

second hand bookstores and trips down memory lanes.

watching my body get even stronger and more toned after being ill.

a lovely wedding and a beautiful bride-friend.

watching my brother being the best mc on the planet.

selfies. i love selfies. my selfies, your selfies. lets all selfie together.

goldfinch finally coming out in paperback. purchasing it. starting it and falling in love right away.

snow falling but not settling.

fires.

the sun coming out.

a reminder to appreciate the little/big things in life. like electricity. 24 hours with no power and running water will make you bounce off the walls and squeal with joy when it finally turns back on. and this is what i love/hate about life on an african farm.

organic skincare made in our hood that smells glorious and makes my face glow… in a good way.

puppies. always.

long brunching catchups at cafe bloom with my favourite cousin whom i love more than words can ever, ever say.

my mom making me the most beautiful crochet blanket for my bed. she is almost halfway through. you’re going to be jealous when it’s done.

that single line on my annual hiv test.

cruz the chameleon moving into our lime tree.

my husband. always.

this time next week we will be traipsing around amsterdam lost in a sea of foreign souls and words.

sarahmayinparisImage: Sarah May in Paris – follow her on instagram @sarahmaykiely

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*giveaway* tous les jours organic skincare products and sleepwear

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed my slight obsession with Tous Les Jours lately? It started off with their pyjamas and home wear and then they very kindly sent me a box of their brand new 100% natural skincare range to try out. Lucky girl! I cannot explain how much I love my pyjamas – they are such good quality and are so warm and comfy… getting into them after a long hot bath at the end of the day is just heaven!

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So, a little background here – Tous Les Jours is a local, Midlands-based company (hooray for the Midlands!) who are big into keeping things as natural, fuss-free and fabulous as your average Parisian woman. In case you’re a clueless peasant like me, “Tous Les Jours” means “every day” and is pronounced “Tu-lay-joor”. Say it. I know you want to. Don’t you feel fancy now? And sophisticated? I’m about ready to throw on a beret and breton stripes!

Ok, so here’s the deal with their new skincare range, which now also includes an organic face care range – all of which will be launched in their shops and on their online store on Monday the 1st of September. When I say these products are natural and organic, I’m not just blowing smoke up your peach. Literally, there are like six ingredients in my cleanser. I even snapped a pic to prove it.

Aqua, Almond Oil, Elder Flower, Rose Geranium, Rosehip Oil and Asiatic Pennywort . That’s it. No chemicals, no preservatives. NO TESTING ON ANIMALS (I mean, those big companies say they don’t, but do you ever really know?). I’ve been following Sydney from The Daybook’s posts on her natural beauty regime and I’ve been so keen to start doing the same – and now I think I’ve found the easy perfect way! I’ve never really fallen into the whole expensive beauty products trap. Anything more than R100 a bottle is a bit ridiculous (hashtag freelance life). The only time I ever used fancy stuff was when my mom paid for it and when I had a friend working for a company who could organise me products for half price… and even then it was still pricey! For the last couple of years Ive been using Nivea products and they seem to be working well BUT if I can get a reasonably priced product made in the Midlands from natural products, what am I waiting for?

bathtime

But does it work? Yes, yes and yes!!! I chose the range for Dry/Mature skin (FML) because my skin has been SO dry this winter and I think the Nivea face wash I was using was perhaps a bit harsh. This range has been an absolute treat for my face! I was worried that I wouldn’t feel “clean” without a foaming face wash – I seem to have this idea that excessive foam equals clean. I have been using coconut oil as makeup remover for a while and along with cleansing with the Tous Les Jour products my skin has been perfect – clean and fresh with no breakouts or reactions… and I guess that’s because it’s natural and natural things go well with skin and hair, as well as digestive systems! I also tried out the exfoliating beads which you mix in with your cleanser once or twice a week for extra cleansing oomph. Best of all, the products are so reasonably priced – my cleanser is R65, the toner R45 and the moisturiser is R80! I think these pretty little bottles will be making themselves right at home on my bathroom shelf for a long time to come.

So… not only have Tous Les Jours spoilt me, but to celebrate the launch of their brand new skincare range on the 1st of September, they are wanting to spoil one of your lovely faces by giving away a skincare hamper to the value of R785! This hamper will include:

Normal Face Wash
Normal Toner
Normal Moisturiser
Exfoliating Beads
Head Band
Lip Balm
Soap
Vanilla Liquid Soap
Vanilla Room Mist
Vanilla Hand & Body Lotion
Vanilla Body Butter
Soap and Soap Bag

AND AND AND AND

A pair of their gorgeous summer pyjamas to the value of R320!

comp4So what do you have to do to win?

Well, first of all, visit their website, take a look at their summer pjs and then in the comments below let me know which pair is your favourite! And then, for extra entries:

Follow Tous Les Jours on Instagram and Twitter (@touslesjourspj)

or Like Tous Les Jours on Facebook (@TousLesJourspjs)

Easy right? All entries will be entered into a draw and the winner will be announced next on Wednesday the 3rd of September! If you can’t wait to get hold of these goodies, they will be available in store and to order online from the 1st of September – and shipping is free to anywhere in South Africa! What are you waiting for? Let’s do this! Good Luck!

*Competition open to readers residing in South Africa*

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how to travel

Right now the only thing I can really think about is our upcoming Europe trip, so if you’re in no way inclined to want to travel the world, this post will probably be of no interest to you. But since I was a little girl (I blame all the novels), I have dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, smoking weed in a dingy bar in Amsterdam (though that desire seems to have fallen by the wayside) and exploring the cobbled streets and ancient ruins of Italy. My Italian/South African friend, Andy, has recently been to visit and tells me that there is an entire city under the sea near Naples where you can just somer scuba swim around old houses and statues. UNDER THE SEA. I mean… SOLD. I am so glad I married Andrew. I know he’s my soulmate and the perfect man for me because he is even more obsessed with seeing the world than I am! He really does fuel my wanderlust fire. And he is also really good at brokering deals – which helps. We have seen a lot in our short time together and I am so looking forward to all the things we are yet to explore and eat and drink. Many people ask me, “so how do you travel so much? How do you get away?” A lot of South Africans seems to be set in this mindset that overseas travel is too difficult and that our green mamba and dismal rand makes overseas travel a bit of a challenge – which it does… but hey, as Paulo Coelho reiterates, “travel is never about money. Travel is always about courage“.

Here are some of my tips for all the mense who have mailed and sent me messages asking me how we do it. This is the dead honest, hard truth and it may mean that I’ll end up living on tinned cat food as a granny. But at least I’ll have the awesome memories. The travel bug is deep, I tell you.

1. Hold Up On The Reproduction. Listen, I’m no mom, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that unless you’re Richard Branson, the chances of being able to travel at whim once you have the midget humans are slim to none. And mommies and daddies – please don’t hate on me – this is only what my friends with kids have told me (usually whilst clutching a screaming toddler and with absolute exhaustion in their red-rimmed eyes). Kids are expensive and time consuming – two things that make travel impossible. I’m not saying that you can’t travel when you have small children, I’m just saying that you probably won’t take it in as much. Also, as soon as those bambinos pop out, every spare cent will be put towards their future education. You need to decide what’s more important – the experiences you gain whilst traveling or saving for your future kids’ food/clothes/schooling (no judgement on either front, we’re all walking different paths here).

2. Marry a Bargain Hunter. Say “I do” to someone who gets thrills out of finding the cheapest deals – or become this kind of person. The problem with most of us (i.e. ME) is that we don’t have the patience to check up on travel and flight sites three times a day… but this is what seasoned travellers do. They hit that refresh button every minute of every hour and wait for the specials to come up. If you can’t be that person, marry one. If it wasn’t for Andrew and his cray-cray obsession with cheap flights and special deals, I’d probably still only have ever left this country once – to go to Lesotho. On a compulsory school trip.

3. Rewards. Get a travel reward credit card and bang everything on it. EVERY-THANG! You’ll be surprised at how quickly those points and miles add up and before you know it, you’ll have a reward flight somewhere far away. As much as you can, ask friends and family to use your credit card when purchasing things online (they can pay you the cash) and then you score the points. Even better, make a family account on your airline account and put all your family members on it – and then every time they book a flight, collect the points to dish out to anyone when they need to travel. BE SNEAKY. (PS: Trip Advisor. Join it. Use it.) (Also, Discovery has a great reward scheme on flights.)

4. Save SMART. My absolute favourite is when people say to me “oh, so you’re going travelling again… You must be loaded!” Erm. No. No, we’re definitely not. We just have our priorities set and our eyes on the prize. So instead of drinking at the local pub every Friday and Saturday night, we work or stay at home. Trust me, a night or two out on the town – eating and drinking and smoking up a storm – can easily add up to a quick grand, especially if there are two of you. Rather stay home or invite friends over for dinner if you want to see them. By doing this, you can save R2 – 4000 a month. Having your hair cut and coloured every six weeks? Mani’s and pedi’s every two weeks? If you can afford these, you can afford to travel. I haven’t touched my hair since my wedding – that’s about R500-1000 I’ve saved every month. If you inherit or win any money, forget about putting it away for a rainy day or towards a new car – book those air tickets straight away! Once your flight tickets are booked, that’s half the job done. Also, stay away from shopping malls – unless you really need some new clothes… and by “need new clothes” I mean that your bras and panties have holes in them and it’s starting to get awkward. That sneaky trip to the mall is just not worth the R799 you accidentally-didn’t-mean-to drop at The Country Road sale – that’s the equivalent to a first class train ticket from Amsterdam to Paris. Think about it. Every little bit counts!

4. Package holidays . There is no shame in booking package deals – ever. If it gets you off the couch AND OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, then do it. There seems to be this modern prejudice against staying at resorts and this general idea that an overseas holiday is somehow not a “real” trip away if you stay at the all-inclusive. I call bullshit. If that’s the cheapest deal you can get and it allows you to travel – DO IT. You can always hire a scooter/bicycle/car when you get there and explore the local spots. Hells bells, you might even end up staying at a local’s house after a hectic street party and get the REAL local experience. (This may or may not have happened.)

5. Be Your Own Boss. Or A Teacher. Or a Lecturer. Three weeks of holiday a year is for the ants. So many people end up saving all those precious days off for a hellishly painful December holiday spent with annoying family members. Yuk. Start your own business or freelance and make your time your own. It may take a couple of year to establish. You may to take your work with you on holiday. You may have to work extra hard to make up for your travel time but at least you don’t have to sit at your desk biting your nails every time you hand your leave form into the HR department.

6. Make Friends. Wherever you go on your travels, strike up conversations and build friendships with people from all over the globe. You never know when you many need a warm welcome bed in a foreign country. (JOE AND SUSAN -THIS ONE’S FOR YOU. WE’RE  COMING. SOON). Extend the invite to your home too. Sharing is caring, people – especially when it comes to travelling the globe.

The bottom line is that if you really want to travel, if the need to explore the world is deep in your bones, you will make a plan. Bring on the cat food.

travel couple Image by the lovely Sarah Irene Murphy (source)

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where women walk

You may have noticed that I’ve mislaid my blogging legs over the last few weeks. Between an intense fitness programme, a little extra workload, some exciting new projects to play with and a recent horrible bout of flu, time has been limited. I also am at a stage right now where I’m not feeling very opinionated about things. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’m keeping sane in this crazy little world of ours by keeping my head down, working on myself and staying clear of nasty news and pointless arguments. I’ve mostly banned myself from my Twitter and Facebook timelines, because there’s usually a fair bit of bitchiness or bad news in both and I don’t like my blood pressure to be raised for no reason any more. Energy and time is precious and I don’t want to spend it being mad about things out of my control. The only thing I can truly fix is me and that’s what I’m working on right now, little by little.

One thing I do want to talk about and one thing I will always have an opinion about is women and our place in society. You guys know I’m all about women and that I’m proud to call myself a feminist. I know there are a lot of popular peeps out there at the moment making fun of the feminist movement. It seems to happen with everything… as soon as something becomes popular or trendy and is on everyone’s tongues, someone has to become the clever skeptic. And let’s not beat around the proverbial bush (haha, see what I did there), the feminist movement has been enjoying a revival of sorts – a young man on a killing spree because women refused to sleep with him will usually do that – along with the recent rise in popular modern femisnit literature written by Caitlin Moran and the rest of the gang. People, especially women, who pooh-pooh feminism and joke about it on twitter (I see you and you’re the reason my TL is not getting much time of day) will do well to reflect this month on how far we have come as women and as a society. They will also do well to remind themselves that not even a century ago, lady folk were not allowed to vote, never mind have a voice and be all bolshy on twitter about how “feminists should relax and maybe they all need a good shag”. Yes, I saw that. And it was written by a woman. *shakes head. cries.*

I also just want to mention that everything is not quite so equal yet and even in my little part of the world, women are still being reduced as people and as equals. At a recent sporting event held in the Midlands called the Kamberg Challenge, in which both men and women are invited to participate, the first prize for the women’s team was a R40 bottle of wine each. First prize for the men’s team were prizes worth over a R1000.00 for each team member. The entrance fee to the game was R700 per person. I mean… I think we all know that there is a lot of work still to be done.

This month, the ABSA “Where Women Walk” campaign is celebrating the many roles that women in our society are able to occupy. From mother and home-keeper to doctor, athlete, cultivator, tooth fairy, trendsetter, entrepreneur and chef – our choices are limitless. In August 1956, twenty thousand women marched to the Parliament Buildings in Pretoria in protest against the apartheid pass laws, which forced all black women to carry passes and in doing so, prohibited them from being able to work and provide for their families. Their protest was ignored by the Federation, which was famous for its assertion that a women’s place was “in the kitchen”, but the march made huge strides in the South African women’s liberation movement and proved the power of a united female force. This was only fifty-eight years ago. We, as women and men, need to remember this.

So this month, take a moment to recognise how far we have come and how wonderful it is that you can choose the life you want to lead.

Take a moment to remember the past and quietly thank the women who walked before you, who paved your path and made it so much easier for you to glide down.

Stop with the snarky feminist comments. Especially if you possess a vagina. It’s disrespectful to the women in the past who would so have loved to enjoy all the rights you do now. Thank your lucky stars that you were born in a time that enables you to attend university, study what you like, work where you want and still be a mom and a home keeper – if you so wish.

Reflect on where you stand in society today and how you are in control of where your path can take you.

As for my path… this is where I am right now:

I live on a farm in a remote area of South Africa. You have to take a long and dusty dirt road to get to our home, and so it really is only the truest of friends who make the effort to visit. Cups of tea become long, chatty evenings accompanied by roasts and bottle upon bottle of wine. We feel the seasons acutely out here, and our days are interweaved with the cyclic birth and death of both plants and animals. Life is heartbreakingly real here. Time goes on no matter what and you must do your best to keep up. This is where I live. This is where I think and breathe and feel inspired. This is where I recollect and build up my strength and plan my adventures.

This is where I walk my path as a woman, a wife and a writer.

kerisjourneyTo join in on the campaign and show your appreciation for the women who marched before us, take a snap of your feet on whatever path you’re on, and share it on Twitter and Instagram, along with a description of where you stand in society and hashtag it #wherewomenwalk. Do it! I want to see the wonderful journeys you are all on.

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my kayla itsines bikini body programme: 12 weeks done and dusted – the results

So this week marks the last week of my 12 Week Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide – but it is by no means the end of my health and fitness journey. Ironically, I have come down with a bout of flu, which has been a shock to my mind, although I think my body is probably loving the break! I’m not sure if endorphin rushes are a real addiction, but if they are – hi my name is Keri and I am an addict. Albeit a proud one! Convincing myself to rest over the last three days has only been possible because the thought of getting REALLY sick and not being able to exercise at all makes me very nervous. Rest we must, and it’s been awesome to see my body still retaining it’s tone, despite the break. I think muscle memory after twelve weeks of intense training must be pretty pristine!

Right, so let’s talk about the last four weeks of the programme, the most significant change being the introduction of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which basically means sprinting at full speed for thirty seconds and then resting for thirty seconds for ten to fifteen minutes in total. I LOVE this cardio workout – I love how time-efficeint it is, I love how much I sweat and I love the results. Over the last four weeks I have seen my abs beginning to appear, biceps starting to form and my core strength has improved SO much. Planks and V-ups… I gots ya. I don’t have a treadmill at home and the nearest gym is miles away (not to mention overpriced) and so instead of doing my HIIT sprints on a treadmill or on a stationery bike, I skip or do step-ups or X-jumps for 30-40 second intervals. Works a treat. This programme really does work at home – the only thing I battled with was not having a bosu ball (so instead of bosu burpees, I just did normal burpees) and not having a second bench for bench jumps (I just used a second step up instead), but otherwise everything was manageable in my little home gym.

Results?

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t trust the scale at all, although it tells me I have gone from 59.4kgs to 57kgs on the nose (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less). I’m fitting into all my clothes really comfortably – even the ridiculously expensive G Star Raw skinnies I bought in a moment of weakness from the V&A Waterfront store a couple of years back. The biggest difference is the confidence I feel in a bikini. I’m even doing yoga in my bikini every other morning! I love it! I’ve always been the shy bikini-donner. I would never sit at a table in a bikini eating watermelon or run towards the waves in a bikini. That wasn’t me. That’s only what skinny supermodels do, right? Now I could do one of those jumping-in-a-bikini-on-the-beach pics, for sure. And if something wobbles – so what? I KNOW I’m strong and that’s all that matters. My husband is loving this new confidence too – there is a lot more of the waltzing of the naked body around the house these days and he ain’t complaining!Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetMy favourite change has been the change in my mindset. It’s quite a thing to realise that you’ve conquered your ego and that you can control your mind and in doing so, your body. I wrote about my current state of mind a couple of weeks ago – you can read it by clicking here. In a nutshell, I now consciously CHOOSE to be make healthy decisions and choices because I want to, not because I know I should or because I have to. I want to eat well, I want to drink alcohol moderately (if at all), I want to go to bed early, I want to meditate and I want to exercise because I know now how good it feels and how productive it makes me become. This has been one of my best results from the Bikini Body Guide.

Having said that, I’ve also learnt to be easy on myself and my body and to strive for balance; to not beat myself up for having a pizza or a couple of glasses of wine or even a sneaky cigarette. And now that the official 12 weeks is over, I’m striving to live by the 80/20 rule of exercising and healthy eating 80% of the time and indulging the other 20% of the time. Yep, even on our upcoming Europe trip. We’re packing our trainers and walking or jogging every morning, but that’s not going to stop us from indulging in the local cuisine!

Most of all, I’ve learnt to appreciate my body. In fact, I’m downright flabbergasted by her right now. What a machine! She has gone so much further than I had ever hoped and I’m pretty darn impressed. So I wrote her a love letter. Do you want to read it? Of course you do!

Dear Body of Beauty

First of all, I just want to say that I don’t hate who you were, I’m just disappointed in myself for not taking better care of you back then. You may not have looked as toned or as strong as you are now, but thank you for still functioning (and looking pretty damn fine while doing it) despite the endless drinking and smoking, late nights, junk foods and lack of exercise. Thank you for not abandoning me when I was at my worst – when I treated you with no respect and no tenderness – thanks for sticking by me and most of all, thank you for allowing me to explore this lovely world through you. I really, really hope you accept my apology and I promise to be a better lover to you from now on, forever and ever.

I promise to spend time with people who honour and love you enough to respect your choices.

I promise to nourish you well.

I promise to take you on long walks and exhilarating runs.

I promise to push you to your max so you can achieve your best.

I promise to rest you when needed.

I promise to stretch your aching muscles and pamper you with full-body massages and reiki.

I promise to play with you more – on the beach, in the pool and on the dance floor, we will shake and jive and swim and jump!

I promise most of all to love you – come children, stretch marks, wrinkles and cellulite… I will love you because I am lucky enough to call you mine.

And without further ado, here is my final progress shot taken yesterday (my last workout being Legs on Monday morning):

photojkI think I have achieved exactly what Kayla promises you will with her guide – a toned, slim body that looks good in a bikini. The Bikini Body Guide does not promote big muscles and six packs, but a toning and the beginning of a noticeable definition, which I can certainly see every morning in my mirror – I never used to have those line thingies down the sides of my tummy! I feel stronger and fitter and ready to continue my workouts. Once I’ve recovered from this flu, I will repeat Week 12 and then begin from Week 9 again, as well incorporate other workouts – there are so many amazing workout e-books available online! I cannot recommend this lifestyle highly enough – and Kayla’s Guide is the perfect kickstart! You can purchase her guides online at www.kaylaitsines.com.au/guides.

For extra workout ideas, follow my Inspiration Board on Pinterest and for (mostly) healthy recipes, follow my Yumminess Board on Pinterest. You can also follow my never-ending health and fitness love affair on Instagram – my well-being account is @kez_be_strong.

Have a wonderful weekend you lovely people!

xxx

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***If you like this, you might also be interested in: My Four Week Review and My Eight Week Review.***

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hamba – the dunlop road trip adventures

As I’m sure you’ve all gathered by now, the Ginger and I are off to Europe in September for three weeks of exploring, playing, wining and dining (or eating at service stations once our measly ronds are all used up). I cannot wait and I may or may not have purchased coloured cardboard already in anticipation of making a countdown worm. My only regret about our Euro Trip is that I’m going to be missing out on the 2014 Dunlop Hamba Heritage Rally! This epic eight day road trip is in celebration of our beautiful country’s heritage and also involves giving back to the community – along the way classrooms will be painted, new school shoes given out and entire libraries installed – all whilst driving around the country in colourful and funky super and vintage cars, bikes and 4×4′s. Also, there will be four checkpoints over the course of the trip where everyone will gather to make new friends and party like only Saffa’s can! Sound awesome? I think so. Entries opened up yesterday, so hop on over to the site for more information, gather up some friends or colleagues (or both) and get involved. I’m definitely in next year! And I think I already have the perfect wheels for it…

dunlop-hamba-teaser-1 dunlop-hamba-teaser-2 dunlop-hamba-teaser-3 PosterPS: This post was not sponsored – but if anyone wants to sponsor my road trip next year… call me. Totally open to bribery and corruption.

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to live like a king for very little by thor harris

My wise mom posted this gem written by rocker, Thor Harris, and I had to share it for keepsies. Especially loving number 4, 5, 10, 13 and 17.

Happy Friday you beautiful creatures! X

1. Don’t smoke cigarettes.
2. Drive old Japanese cars. Easy and cheap to fix and they run for fucking ever.
3. Buy most of your groceries from the produce section. Most of that other shit is not actually food. You don’t need it.
4. Ride your bike instead of driving as much as you can. You need the exercise and gas is expensive.
5. Don’t have kids. They’re not miracles, they’re people. 7 billion is too fucking many. Find some other way to give your dull existence some meaning. By the way, they’re expensive.
6. Get your clothes from thrift stores. With the physique you’ll have from riding your bike, you’ll look hot wearing anything.
7. Learn to fix things. Tons of great books and Youtube videos on fixing anything. Or ask an old dude. People used to fix things.
8. Learn a trade – Carpentry, plumbing, electrical, auto mechanics, tailoring, computer/electronics repair, something They can’t fucking outsource. No one gives a shit about your Masters in Dostoyevsky…. fix something, dumbass, fix something!
9. If you like booze, drink at home with your neighbors. Drunk driving is for assholes, rich ones with lawyers.
10. Do people favours. It’s called Cooperation. It’s how the world worked before money. They will return the favor, or someone will. No shit. This really works.
11. Make things – look around you. What do you see? Yah, shitty stuff made by impoverished enslaved people far away. Pick anything. Make a better one. People want good shit. You won’t get rich, but you’ll get by.
12. If you live in America – don’t get sick and avoid injury. Wear your helmet and put lights on your bike.
13. Find work you love. If you can’t do that, then find a job where you love the people.
14. Junkies and addicts are like toddlers. They just want to shit all over you and everything. The messes they make can get expensive. Avoid them if you can.
15. Don’t buy shit on credit, remember what happened to America? Cash only. Can’t afford it? Don’t fucking buy it!
16. Preventable expenses – STD’s, abortions, DWI’s, lung cancer, head injuries, speeding tickets, cirrhosis of the liver.
17. Don’t go on fancy dates if you’re not fancy. Most people kind of despise the rich anyway.
18. When you go see shows, bring a flask in. That way you can afford to buy a record.
19. If you had told me 15 years ago that Coca Cola would put tap water in plastic bottles and motherfuckers would BUY IT …… No fuckin way.
20. Don’t get cable. There is nothing on. I promise. $100 a month ? Fuck no!

king

Source: The Daily Dot and Illustration by Bridget B (Source)

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current state of mind

As you all know by now I’m sure, I am currently on an intense physical journey. My mind is full of things such as monitoring heart rates, muscle tone, energy, strength, nutrition, stretching, fat burn, average paces, burpees, decline push-ups, commandos, running, power walking and more. I am almost at the end of my tenth week following this programme which means I have only two and a bit weeks to go. When I first started this regime back in June, I had a tiny seed of doubt at the back of mind about not being able to complete it, but I was also hugely determined to get strong in order to protect myself as a human being in this world (I’m still not sure if this is silly or sad, but I believe it’s a responsible thing to do). I want to learn how to fight, but I need to be strong before I start. The last time I punched a boxing bag, I almost broke my scrawny wrist and the wretched thing did not even move an inch. I feel I may be able to at least get it to sway a bit now.

But I digress. I don’t want to talk about physical strength today, you can read about my change and transformation here and here. I want to talk about mental strength. I want to talk about dedication and I want to talk about discipline. You know when I started this journey, it was about myself and my own strength. I posted a few images of my progress on my personal Instagram account and got some awesome encouragement from friends, readers and family members. I also got a bunch of un-followings from real life friends (I know this because I have joined Iconosquare, which lets you know who your un-followers are) and at one stage I was un-followed by two friends at the same time just after I had posted a progress shot. I thought it was a little strange, but then I saw on Facebizzle the next morning that they had had dinner together. I probably took it too personally at the time, but what I did realise was that not all people, even some of those who are closest to you, are happy or excited for you to be on a journey that is different to their own. This is primarily why I started a separate IG fitness account (@kez_be_strong) – so people could choose to follow my journey if they so wished. Not too many friends or family members did, and that’s ok. The continued support and encouragement I get from fellow health and fitness warriors on a similar journey has honestly been one of the most important and inspiring things to me over the past few weeks.

You see, it’s not only about the muscles or the toned ass – although it may have started out like that. I have never felt more alive. I have never felt more inspired. I don’t want to drink alcohol or eat masses of crap. I want to go to bed early and I want to wake up early. I want to meditate and journal and do deliciously deep yoga stretches at dawn. I want to go for lung-bursting runs and feel the power of my body as it navigates the earth. I want to go on coffee dates with friends and connect with them in a way that’s not clouded in booze fumes and talk of rubbish things which I will regret the next morning. I want to eat healthily and I want to feel my body thrive and be energised on food that is good for it – food which makes it feel light and strong at the same time. I have never felt this good  - physically and mentally. For the first time in ages, I am writing again – every morning. I am creating and I am dreaming and I am sketching and I am discovery my inspired destiny. As the clouds of self-doubt and fear begin to blow away, things are starting to become crystal clear. The better I feel, the more disciplined I become.

So why do I meet resistance from others? Some people honestly can’t believe that following a healthy lifestyle can make you happy. Surely you are denying yourself pleasure through the prohibition of junk food and alcohol and loafing around? Surely you cannot be actually enjoying  your life? “Life’s too short – have the cake!” they say, except my perception has shifted so much that I’m now at a stage where I’m thinking, “life’s too short to drink that whole bottle of wine and spend yet another day being hungover and listless and uninspired.” I don’t want to waste a single day where I could be writing, working, playing, dreaming, reading, looking after myself and in doing all of these things, fulfilling my creative potential. I’ve chosen a vocation where I need to have energy and be focused in order to work. Unfortunately, unlike old Hemmingway, I have come to realise that I can’t write drunk and edit sober, because when I’m drunk, I just want to be talking shit and grinding on the dance floor – not writing at my desk. And when I’m hungover I certainly don’t want to be editing – I want to be lying on the couch, braless and in my comfy pants with a big bag of Flings watching re-runs of Friends.

So, I’m cool with the not drinking for now. I’m cool with saying no to pizza and burgers. I’m cool with exercising every day. I’m super cool with the fact that I purchased a visual journal yesterday and have started sketching again (albeit a little shakily). I’m cool with the fact that I actually have an idea for a book in my head again and a plan on how to set about writing it. I’m cool with the fact that my journal is busting with thoughts and ideas, because as my body is getting stronger, so it appears that my mind is working to its full potential again. I haven’t had such creative clarity since I was a little girl and it feels simply glorious.

It’s not only about the strong body and the skinny jeans (although fitting into those again has been blerrie marvellous), it’s about living a better life, inspired and hungry for every new day. It’s about not having to drown my sorrows in a bottle of chenin blanc, but rather grappling with my demons while pounding the pavement (or in my case, the dusty dirt road). It’s about actually beginning to think about making a worthwhile dent in this world – whether it be through my travels, my writing or my relationship with my husband. I don’t want to be another lost soul with a dull mind and a floppy body sitting at the end of a deserted bar.

But what about the balance? Do I really want to become a tee-totalling hippy? For the most part, YES. Honestly and truly, in this moment in time, hell-freaking YES. It feels awesome being a fitness warrior. It feels awesome having fresh ideas in my head and a clear mind. When on holiday, I will be sure to sample some of the local wine and the delicious cuisine – it’s what travel is all about and I’m so looking forward to it. BUT, I will also be sampling a lot more of their coffee than their cider and walking the streets rather than finding the nearest bar and calling it home for the entire time I’m there.  So this is where I am right now. I feel so, so, so good but I am in no way asking anyone else to follow my path or to stop drinking or to take up crazy exercise programmes, although I asking others to please stop telling me not to. And that’s my two cents for the day. Must be off, got things to do, dreams to write and dogs to walk. If you are currently needing a change in your life, but feel that something is holding you back or sabotaging you, read this article – it made all sorts of light bulbs go off in my little head.

kezhappy

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