Inspired by...10 Things That Cheer Me Up!

How relevant is this topic, right now?! I have my first exam tomorrow (wish me luck!) and more next week so amidst all of the revision fun, here are 10 things that always cheer me up when I’m feeling a little down [Cue “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music]:


1. Music: I am a huge playlist person since organising my music into neat little categories is so me.  Among others, I have a “2015 Year of Dreams” playlist that I’m adding to with songs from happy points throughout the year, a playlist my mom made me about 4 years ago with more nostalgic and comforting songs, my Broadway playlist (I really belt out these songs sometimes, especially when I’m driving), and my newly made “Smart Girl/HBIC” playlist that is my ultimate power playlist.  This is the one that I really jam out to when I’m having a tough day or just need to smile and relax a bit.


2. Cooking and baking: There’s something so rhythmic about being in the kitchen that makes you forget everything else because you have to pay attention so much.  There’s a quote from the movie Julie and Julia where Julie gets home from a miserable day at work and tells her husband, “You know why I love cooking?  Because on a day where nothing makes sense, I know that if you mix egg yolks, sugar, chocolate and cream, it will become thick and perfect.”  It’s my zen.


3. The West Wing: I’m on a West Wing kick since nothing inspires me in the intellectual sense quite like this show.  It’s familiar since I grew up watching it and it makes me think of my dad, but it’s a political masterpiece and reminds me of why I study what I study, and who I want to be one day.


4. Yoga: There’s no problem that a good headstand can’t fix!  I remember the day I could finally do a headstand in the middle of the room and let me tell you, that feeling when you get your legs right in the air and you can view the world upside down is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  Beyond headstands, though, the stretching feels amazing and I get a nice buzz afterwards.

5. Long walks: I always make sure to take a break in between major chunks of work since getting my blood moving is exactly what I need!  I especially love my walks here since I get to drink in the beauty of London and clear my head a bit.


6. My Vinyasa scarf: My mom got me the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf for my birthday and I am in LOVE!  It’s so soft and stretchy and you can wear it like a scarf, a shrug, a wrap, and even a blanket.  I love curling up in this and feeling warm and cosy.


7. Making lists and organising: When life starts to feel overwhelming, taking a few minutes and making a list of things to do and things you want to do is very therapeutic.  Added bonus: colour-code it!  There’s something about a neat list that makes life seem a little more manageable.  Also, cleaning helps, too!  A few weeks ago, I spent about 15 minutes tackling this huge pile of papers, ticket stubs, pamphlets, etc. from this whole year, condensed it, and fit it neatly into a plastic envelope that looks much less scary!  It was such a feeling of accomplishment!


8. A hot drink: cappuccino or Egyptian Licorice tea: I’ve recently discovered the beauty that is a good cappuccino, and while caffeine isn’t the best for anxiety, it just tastes so warm and luxurious!  My favourite tea is Egyptian Licorice tea (from Yogi Tea) and I’ve been drinking it for years — it has a lovely spicy-sweet taste and instantly puts me in a good mood.


9. Digital content: It sounds a little odd, but I always set aside time once or twice a week for all of the digital content I like to read.  This can be articles I’ve saved in my reading list on Safari or checking blogs, columnists, and websites that I find inspiring.  I like feeling caught up with the world and I find I learn a lot from these little catch-up times.  Also, I Pin a lot of the articles that I like so it goes back to the organising thing.  Extra points if you combine this with tea or a cappuccino. 


10. Reading: When I’ve had to read for revision for several hours, a change of pace with one of my favourite books does wonders!  It lets me escape and be taken for a ride by a story, rather than facts that I have to put together.  


11. Harry Potter audiobooks: When I was about 11, I borrowed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiocassette (it was 2005, people!) from my aunt and I think I listened to the book about 5 times that summer.  I used to carry my Walkman with me to car rides and swim meets, and listen to it in bed, because Jim Dale (the narrator) has the voice of an angel.  It’s so familiar to me that listening to it for just five minutes totally relaxes me.  In fact, I downloaded the audiobook onto my laptop a few months ago and am listening to it again!  I listened to a few of them last summer on my commute to work, and it was the best way to start my day!


12. (This is the last one, I promise!)  A good chat.  Whether it be with my mom, my dad, my brother, or my friends, a good chat refreshes me and puts things in perspective.

I know that was more, but it actually helped after a long day to think of “My Favorite Things”!

Inspired to be,


Inspired by...London Reflections

Wow, it’s been a busy few days, hence the lack of #BlogEverydayInMay posts!  I usually blog in the evenings, but I’ve had things going on and it’s hard to get back into my usual groove.  Anyway, the two prompts that I’ve missed are: “What is your favourite stamp in your passport” and “What are you struggling with right now?” which I am going to combine in a “London Reflection”!

I love passport stamps.  Ever since I got my passport for a school trip to Canada my senior year, I’ve longed to have this little book filled with details of my adventures.  Unfortunately, crossing the US-Canada border doesn’t necessitate a stamp, so I had to wait until my trip to Paris the following year.  I remember looking at the stamp fondly, as a record of my first flight and first trip to Europe.  My favourite stamp, however, is on page 8 — this is where I have my British visa and a stamp on the right-hand side dating from September 25th at Heathrow Terminal 3.  This is where this whole year began, on a morning I barely remember because I was jet-lagged out of my skull and starting to have that creeping sensation of “oh my god what have I done?”  Looking back on it now, however, and I have fonder feelings towards it.  That sticker and the little stamp on the side represent this entire year and the emotions, adventures, and growth that have come with it.  This year has flown by faster than I realised until about two weeks ago.

 I feel like I’ve been here forever, but I’ve been living in Europe for eight months and will be back in the States in just about 18 days.  I’ve already written about the emotional ups and downs that I’ve ridden throughout the year, but right now, I’m thinking about how close I was to not studying abroad, or not coming here specifically, and I can’t imagine my life without this experience.  This year has allowed me to visit twelve countries, fall in love with London, have one of the most academically-enriching years I’ve ever had, meet incredible people, and grow more than I ever expected.  I am not the person who flew out of JFK on September 24th and am so happy that I have survived.

And now onto the tough part: exams.  Before I can go on my bittersweet way back to the States on June 4th, I have to make it through four exams which the LSE Exams Department felt the need to point out are made intentionally difficult.  Thanks, guys.  I’ve never taken exams in the British system before and these exams in general just feel different to me.  I’ve had a difficult weekend in terms of studying (“revision”!) because right now, I’m feeling very overwhelmed and like I just can’t wrap my head around things.  It shifts from one class to another — on Friday, I was stressing about my Islamic Empires exam, and now I’m stressing about my Politics in Europe class.  I have my first exam on Tuesday which is my Islamic Empires exam and I’m starting to feel better about it, but trying to force an entire year’s worth of information into my head is sparking some of my [until-now latent] anxiety, which is just great.  And it’s not like I haven’t been a good student all year, so much that this year has thrown my confidence in my intelligence for a serious loop, which I believe is completely necessary in terms of growth and all that, but I’m scared.  That’s the only way I can say it: I’m scared to take these exams.  It’s hard to be so close to the end that I can feel what my bed at home feels like, but have four incredibly difficult hurdles to jump over (haha, hurdles, my old elbow-breaking friend) and I find myself saying “I just want to go home” as I try to read my notes.  Friday and Saturday were hardest, but I woke up today in a much better mood and am finally able to take some deep breaths.  Once I have Tuesday out of the way, the exams won’t feel so new, so I think that will help a lot.  Until then, however, I just need to push myself through and it will all be over soon.  Wish me luck!

Inspired to be,