Saturday, May 30, 2015

The REAL Difference Between Fashion and Personal Style Bloggers


Another post by my guest blogger from the HCBN network, Ak Brown. 

I hope you guys are familiar with one of my last posts on "Why Everyone Can't Be a Fashion Blogger".  If you do you might have noticed a comment from a great blogger I know, saying something along the lines of how fashion bloggers and style bloggers are very much different.  I do agree that fashion bloggers and style bloggers are different in a way, but to be honest, the real difference between a great fashion blogger and a great personal style blogger is absolutely nothing.  Yep I said it, stop looking at the screen like I said something dumb or confusing.  The real difference between a great fashion blogger and a great personal style blogger is nothing.  Here's why;

Going back a bit to my last post, it surfaced around how a lot of these girls believe that if they post some cute pics here and there that they're instantly a fashion blogger, and a lot of my readers think that if that doesn't make them a fashion blogger, then that makes them a personal style blogger, and that's also very much wrong.  Even though fashion blogging and personal style blogging are in two different niches, they still serve a purpose of providing quality content that will engage the reader, spark interest, get a conversation going, and sometimes go out of the box when it comes to topics that are being discussed.  Just because you are a personal style blogger doesn't mean that your reader base doesn't expect quality content from you.  I don't care to just look at pretty pictures of the same type of outfits.  We all know the typical Instagram blogger outfit, a signature Chanel chain bag, blazer, and pointed toe heels, sunglasses glued to the face and walking down the street as if she didn't have a goddamn care in the world.  That is not blogging!  I would prefer much more style tips on how to dress for different occasions, celebrity looks for less, where to find staple pieces, makeover stories, etc.  Just because your niche is to showcase unique ensembles, that doesn't mean quality content shouldn't follow behind it.

More importantly, a lot of bloggers are both fashion and personal style bloggers, we are indeed.  We like to not only give our opinions on controversial topics going on in the fashion industry but we also try and give some tips and outfit inspirations here and there.  In my opinion, I think we are all fashion bloggers, and then there are the sub categories where personal style comes into play where some people love to focus heavily on that.  Nothing wrong with that by any means, but once again, just don't think that putting up a few generic outfit pics make you a blogger.  It's more work put into it.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mindofafashionista

Ak Brown: Creator and Head Fashion Blogger
Mind of a Fashionista


Thursday, May 28, 2015

11 Ways to Effectively Crush Your Goals



We all have dreams and goals, places we'd like to be, things we'd like to achieve. Achieving our goals is a process that can't happen overnight, and takes some planning, dedication and focus. Hopefully, the steps below can outline this process in an easy-to-follow way!

1) Aim high: What is it that you really want? Aim as high as you'd like and understand what it really is. Do you want to write a book? Get into a top business school? Become a famous TV personality? Understanding where you want to be is the first step in achieving your goals.

2) Set a specific goal (or goals): Now that you know what it is that you want, how will you get there? Start by outlining your goals. Make them reasonable; for example, if you're working a full time job, you know you don't have ten hours a day to dedicate to your goals. Be specific when you set your goal; maybe you want to become healthier. "Being able to climb ___ flights of stairs without getting tired" is a better goal then "Being healthier". It's more measurable, and enables you to track your progress. Make sure that you set your goal and think about it in such a way that you feel passionate about achieving results.

3) Write it down: Once you know what your goal is, write it down! Maybe you feel more motivated giving it another name? Personally, I know that changing my yearly "resolutions" to "intentions" seemed to motivate me more. Wherever you write your goal(s) down, and whatever you choose to call them, make sure you word them in such a way that you are reminded of their achievability (...I don't really think that's a word). Have them accessible such that you can look at them as often as you need to.

4) Give yourself a reasonable timeline: (Most) goals cannot be achieved overnight. If you're planning to run a marathon, you have to realise that this might take some time. Are you very fit? This may be more of a short term goal for you. Have you never run one before? Then you're looking at longer term. Remember to break down your goal into chunks; start small and build up! Using the same example, you can't get up and practice running a full marathon on your first day. Pick a reasonable distance and go for it!

5) Don't tell too many people, but be sure to tell the right people: At the end of the day, you should be accountable for yourself. I find that sometimes telling too many people about your goals is actually not as motivational as it should be! However, learn to recognise the people who might be helpful. Recently, I told a friend of mine, Elizabeth Wilson, about a goal I have for myself. I haven't told many people at all, but her simple belief in me gave me the courage to take my planning one step further. (Thanks Elizabeth!)

6) Remember your goal: As time goes on, you may lose some of that initial motivation you had when you set your goal. Keep this in mind, and look for ways to keep reminding and motivating yourself. This might be a bracelet you wear on days you're feeling particularly unmotivated, or a vision board. An online tool I love allows you to send letters to yourself in the future (www.futureme.org). I use this to motivate myself, and it's worked great so far!

7) Start now and do however much you can whenever you can: To climb a mountain, you have to take the first step. The mountain may seem insurmountable at the moment, but that should in no way hinder that important first step. Start on your goal as soon as you possibly can, and realise that bit by bit, you'll get there.

8) Believe in yourself: Whatever your goal is, I can practically guarantee that if you don't believe in yourself, you won't get there. No matter what it is, no matter how big or how small it is, it's extremely important to believe that you CAN achieve it!

9) Don't be too hard on yourself: Always allow room for mistakes and unforeseen events, and give yourself the opportunity to learn from them. Recently, I was just about finishing my ten week workout programme, but unfortunately had to take a whole week off because of the flu. I hadn't planned for something like that, but was able to readjust.

10) Feel free to modify your goal as you get closer: Don't worry if your initial goal is now something that's not as relevant for you as it once was. Feel free to modify your goals as you get closer to them; you made them, and you have the power to change them.

11) Celebrate EVERYTHING: Celebrate every step closer that you get, every small victory you achieve, every time that you're that much closer, and finally, celebrate when you get there!

Have any more tips for effective goal setting? Share them in the comments  below!

Monday, May 25, 2015

A List That Will...

I try and feature guest bloggers regularly; here's one who's also a member of Her Campus Blogger Network, and who will be featuring a few posts on The Kenyan Nomad over the next few months. Meet Ariadna!




I am Ariadna Arredondo, founder of The Always Believer.  I am a happy-go-lucky girl who is making her own dreams happen, forever positive and overcoming obstacles along the road. Being a bit shaken down due to life circumstances, I've managed to get back up, get going and get strong. I love to help people, make them laugh and feel wanted. You deserve to shine and follow your passion. This is what I am all about, plus telling you the truth you want to hear.

Hey there buddie!
Here, have a list!
A list of things that will make life even more wonderful:
Take your pick or do them all, let us know your favorite and just go for it!

1) Tell her that you love her. Tell him that you love him.
Your mother, your father,  your sister, your brother, your aunt, your uncle, your grandmother, your grandfather, your cousin, your best friend…. tell them you love them to pieces, tell one, tell them all, tell them with all your heart that they make your heart pump louder and stronger each day.

2) Treat yourself.
Treat yourself to the best treat ever. Go to the Caribbean. Okay, okay, maybe you can’t go there. You can however indulge yourself to something has been catching your eye for some time now. Go, do it. Now.

3) Binge watch, no doubts.
Come on, let’s be real, Spring might be around the corner yet it still takes forever to take the blankets away, so take advantage and binge watch away. And even if you are reading this from the other side of the world, (hello Chile!) and it is Summer… it also okay to binge watch anyway. Just chill, relax, zoom out and don’t have a doubt. We won’t tell!

4) Mail a letter.
Yup, dust off the notebook, break open those new pens and write your heart out. Okay, it doesn’t have to be a long heartfelt letter, just give a go and give a simple hello! It will make their day, spread a little of your handwriting around. Come on, you know you want to!

5) Pick up that old talent of yours!
Yeah, let’s be real. You haven’t been maintaining your end of the bargain when it comes to any of your long-lost hobbies. It’s time to pick it up for a bit and give it another go!

6) Hug. Smile.
Smile at strangers, smile at the bus driver, smile at your boss, smile and smile and smile because we all know that when you smile, the whole world will smile with you. Hug, hug your friends, hug your family. Hug them every chance you get. Hug them tightly.

7) Hot cocoa time. Or tea. Or coffee. Or wine.
Guys! It feels oh so nice to sit down and unwind and finally have time to do what you never have time for… so, sit down tonight or on a Friday and take some time to sip your favorite drink.

8) Forgive. Yourself.
Choose one thing, now, yes, right now, that you have been holding back, that thing that you have been feeling guilty about…. breathe in, breathe out, let go. Come on, take the right steps right now towards your freedom.

9) Dance.
Just do it. Put your song on. And dance to it. Enough said.

10) Getting rid of one body insecurity at a time.
This takes time, once again, choose one and let it go. Embrace it, feel it, love it. (yes,with time)

And for the extra touch: JUST BE REAL.
Be you, yourself, just you.
Go with the flow, let your feelings show and take a trip on the wild side, any of your choosing.
We believe in you!
The Always Believer

Links: 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sewanee: A Few Years Later

Today's guest blogger is one of my best friends, the wonderfully talented and beautiful Catherine Clifton, and she's writing about one of my favourite places in the world!

Picture taken by Caroline Williams, C'14

“Where’d you go to undergrad?”

“Sewanee: The University of the South.”

“Oh. Cool.”

You have no idea, person who has never seen my mountain views and my Gothic architecture and my black-gowned scholars and my madras sportcoats. “Cool” will suffice if you’ve never heard of Sewanee, but let me educate you, because the love I have for my alma mater just can’t be contained.

Picture a place where it’s entirely possible to meet a new person, but feel like you’ve known them for a good long while. After all, they had that English class with Reishman and his tattered gown that only covers one of his shoulders; they missed the sound of bells over the summer when they went home; they know that Lake Trez is probably radioactive; they’re familiar with Highlanders, Wellingtons, heathens, and lurches; they tap the roof of their car without knowing they’ve moved their hand from the wheel; and they know a girl with a red flower behind her ear will drink them dry of Cuervo.

There are places in the world that people of faith refer to as “thin places”—places where the barrier between God and man is thinner, more transparent. Go to the Cross on a snowy morning. Walk through Abbo’s Alley after a storm, and let the smell of green fill you up until you feel chlorophyll in your veins. Snap your fingers in All Saints’ and wait for the echo from the stone and glass.

Here is the place where abandon is found not only in the fraternity houses but in the classroom and the grandstand. Abandon: to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly. To revel in the moment of discovery, of accomplishment, of fragility, of competition, of young love, of debauchery, of growing pains and growing joys.

Here is the place that teaches all aspects of life. It is not perfect; far from perfect, it is deeply flawed, and it has danger and hurt and conflict and fear. But it brings together people who have felt those feelings and people who have lived in bubbles, and it flings them toward an embrace made of diverse arms and hands. Sewanee holds itself together, and it never lets go. You leave the Holy Mountain. You take your angel with you, and your friends’ phone numbers, and your pictures and T-shirts and bachelor’s degree—but the Mountain keeps you close. Even in the deepest fog, the cornerstone waits and does not move.

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum.

Behold how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

Picture taken by Caroline Williams C'14

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sewanee: One Year Later

Picture by Emily Bailey, C'14

I'll apologise in advance for the way this post might seem that it's all over the place! The only way to describe it is to say that Sewanee is so much for me that it's hard to collect my thoughts and put them on paper (...on screen?). 

Today is exactly one year and a few days since I graduated from this beautiful place. It's so hard to believe that I've been out in the 'real world' for so long! The time I spent at Sewanee may have been less than a fifth of my life (....okay, so maybe that's still quite a long time), but it definitely changed me, almost completely, and has given me a wide variety of Sewanee-tinged of lenses with which I now view the world and everything in it. 

Sewanee people will know what I'm talking about when I refer to "that EQB feeling". The magic of the place that is Sewanee has ensured that that feeling of connectedness, love and support is still strong, long after we have left the gates. Sewanee has given us a family and a home. 

After a few months, words and details do start to fade. I may not be able to recall in perfect detail anymore that one conversation I had with that one person at that one place that one night, but that doesn't mean that the conversation wasn't had. Every experience I had at Sewanee, every person I met there, every mistake I made and every challenge I overcame there has helped shape me into the person that I am today, and continues to do so even though I'm so far from the mountain. 

I don't know if luck was in my favour when I got into Sewanee, or if I managed to "get things right", but (the majority of) the people I met there were amazing and inspiring, and among these were those I'm blessed to call my best friends. I know I've said this before, but I've heard that a person is lucky if they even have one real friend they can count on. This amazes me, because I left Sewanee with a treasure trove, and the proof of this lies in the strength of our bonds after so much time since we were all last together and the many miles now between us. I'm not just talking of the almost-stereotypical, same-sex friendships with people of the same age group and same background, but friendships between people from all different walks of life. 

The great thing about Sewanee? This wasn't something that only I experienced. Many of my peers talk about this feeling, and still do, and I've heard alums go on about what Sewanee has given them, many many years after they've graduated. 

Don't get me wrong; Sewanee didn't just give us beautiful friendships, a great support system, wonderful social lives and a view to die for... we also were lucky recipients of a world-class education that left us well prepared for jobs and grad school. 

To my alma mater, all I can say is this: thank you!

YSR

Quintard: A lovely introduction to dorm life


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Outfit of the Day

Today I'm featuring a guest blogger who's also a member of Her Campus Blogger Network. I loved her post, and I hope you do too! 

Hi everyone!!  My name is Abril , I consider myself as a fashion amateur girl who also loves makeup, exercise and reading a good book. I have a bilingual blog: The Color Palette where I talk about everything fashion and beauty related. Lately I've been starting to post my daily looks and I have to admit I have so much fun doing it even when my boyfriend always tell me I look  like very uncomfortable when he is taking the pictures.

military jacket ootd

I'm currently living in Chicago, one of those places where spring is still a little bit chilly, and even though  everybody thinks it is already warm I'm still freezing all the time because I'm from a place where heat and humidity rule the day.
In this type of places where the transition from winter to spring is slow, a light jacket is a must have in the wardrobe, and this one is my favorite it isn't too light or too warm and I think a military green jacket is almost a neutral, it can be mixed with different colors, patterns and even styles. 

combat boots and military jacket outfit

This time I styled my favorite jacket with a light gray sweater, high waisted jeans and a leopard print clutch to add a pop of color. Since the look is a little bit "masculine" a pair of combat boots with a little bit of heel (of course) compliment the outfit.

military and leather jacket edgy outfit
GET THE LOOK
thrifted gray sweater (similar HERE & HERE)
Military Green Jacket (similar HERE & HERE)
Heeled combat boots (similar HERE & HERE)
Leopard print clutch bag (similar HERE & HERE)

combat boots outfit

Photography: Eric Alanis

I love this outfit edgy feeling and I was really comfy that day. What do you think about it?


Thank you to the lovely Roshni Walia for letting me be here today with you!

xx,Abril

Social media:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Workout Motivation: A Success Story in Progress



A year ago today, if you told me that I'd be working out every day, I'd probably call you crazy. Before I turned 17, I was fit enough. For about a year, I religiously went to the gym three times a week for about one and a half hours each time. Sure, I wasn't exactly what I'd call sporty; my hand-eye coordination did not, and probably never will allow for that in terms of traditional sports.

As high school came to an end and college drew nearer, I lapsed back into laziness. I told myself that since I was going to a campus where I'd be walking enough, would have to take some compulsory P.E. classes and that had a state-of-the-art gym, staying fit wouldn't be a problem at all. If only I knew how wrong I was. The P.E. classes were over in two semesters, and apart from the time I spent at the gym for tours, occasional games, the above mentioned classes, or homework (...weird, yes, but the person I was working on my homework with had a work-study there), I hardly went there at all, even when I lived close to it.

Yes, I walked lots, but didn't take into account the food there; while most of it was amazing and freshly prepared, it was certainly unhealthier than the food we get in Kenya. I would occasionally pick up some new form of working out, but I inevitably lacked the motivation to keep going. Sure, I didn't become heavily obese or anything like that; most people actually thought I was in shape, but I could tell that I wasn't.

A few months after graduation, on a whim, I decided to do a yoga routine from an app that I'd had on my phone. To my amazement, I actually kept going and managed to work out almost every single day. A few months later, my brother-in-law and sister introduced me to Focus T25, a workout programme designed by the person behind Insanity, Shaun T. This is a ten week programme, and only requires 25 minutes a day Monday to Thursday, 50 minutes on Friday, and some stretching on Sunday. So, luckily for me, I don't even have to spend a lot of time on weekdays. I started this programme, got about 4 weeks in, then started all over again when I got back to Kenya. I'm now on week 8, and use my weekends and some mornings to keep up with yoga.

What changed? How did I, a person who couldn't stick to a programme for more than a month, end up working out so often for almost 7 months?

First of all, I think the difference this time around is that I've found something that I enjoy. Yoga and T25 are both challenging, but fun. With yoga, I'm able to do different workouts so that I don't get bored, and T25 itself has many different workouts that are done on different days. The second important thing is that this time, I can also see the results for myself, and these motivate me to keep going. Immediately after the workout, I feel great. There is a sense of mental accomplishment and physical wellness. Not including the obvious benefits I've experienced, like improved stamina, better form, posture, flexibility and muscle tone, I'm also way less stressed, much happier and more relaxed. An added bonus? As someone who used to get a cold or a flu every couple of months, I went almost 12 months (!!!) without falling sick, and when I finally did, it only lasted about three days. Hurrah for improved immunity!

In addition to working out, I'm also trying to implement other healthy choices, most of which I've talked about in previous posts. I now take the stairs every chance I get, and (try to) eat healthier than I used to! One thing I still don't do is fanatic calorie counting. I enjoy my food, and don't think I'd be able to stick to a very strict eating regime.

What's my point in all this? Honestly; if I can do this, so can you. The thought of working out would at times make me groan, and I was quite content in the lifestyle I was living. Having experienced the benefits of working out now, I wish I could go back and start earlier!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How to Organize Your Closet

Today’s guest blogger is fellow Her Campus Blogger Network member, Ak Brown! This is the first post in a series of posts she’ll be doing on The Kenyan Nomad. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!



Ak’s bio: Fashionable with a hint of unconventional rawness, that's what I used to describe myself and my blog Mind of a Fashionista. Started in 2013, I have transformed this blog along with my best friend into a diverse source of fashion, style, and beauty news, trends, tips, and tricks while also conveying opinions that normally don't go with the "norm" opinion.




It's morning, 6:58 to be exact.  It's time for you to get up, get ready, and get going.  After showering, brushing and flossing your teeth you head over to your closet and say to yourself "What in the f***".  Shirts are hanging off of their hangers, pants look like they got up for a late night drink and passed out on the floor, and long story short, your closet looks like an abomination.  But you're not alone.  In fact my closet use to look the exact same way, if not worse because I never took the time to put my clothes in the correct place.  For some reason my way of thinking is to dig and find outfits out of piles of clothing (makes no sense) and by thinking that way, it has caught up to me.  For those of you who need a crash course on how to tame that closet so that picking the perfect outfit isn't a nightmare, check out these tips I came up with:

Ditch what you don't wear
I have a rule that if you have something you haven't worn in at least 2 months, not given the season changes, then most likely you won't wear it again.  Either find a way to get some extra coins and sell it, or be charitable and give it to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any other local thrift store or charity.  No use in having a shirt or pair of pants still in your closet you won't wear when someone else can get more use out of it.

Shirts
After doing a mini "spring cleaning" of your closet, it's time to get things in order.  First, when organizing your shirts sort them out by color. The color categories are white, pastels, brights, dark, and blacks. Next you will organize by sleeve length. No sleeve goes first, then cap sleeve, short sleeve, 3/4 quarter length sleeve, long sleeve, cardigan/sweaters, and last blazers/jackets. After organizing you will find that your closet will look like a uniformed color spectrum roller coaster, each color going from no sleeve to long sleeve.

Bottoms
Whether you hang your bottoms in the closet or fold them on the shelf above, organizing your pants, denim , and other bottoms is just as important.  Just like with shirts, you will organize your bottom by leg length and style, meaning skirts first (short to long), capris, and then long pants (skinny, boot cut, flare).  Next is the color.  You will arrange your bottoms by white, colors, dark, white denim, colored denim light denim, medium wash denim, dark denim, and black denim.  Lastly if you hang your bottoms up, I prefer to put them before my tops.

Shoes
This is definitely optional because a lot of people, including myself, tend to not have their shoes in the closet, rather in separate locations in the house.  But if you do keep your shoes in the closet, I simply organize them by sandals, tennis, wedge, kitten heel, then pump, and put my shoes I wear the most in the forefront for easy access.
These tips sounds a little insane, maybe narkish, but from experience it shaves time off in the morning when you're tying to get ready, which equals less stress for you.  Do you have another way to organize your closet?  Let us know in the comments below!


Instagram: www.instagram.com/mindofafashionista

Ak Brown: Creator and Head Fashion Blogger
Mind of a Fashionista


Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Egg by Andy Weir

This is not an original piece, but I loved it when I read it, so thought I should share it with           my readers too. Enjoy! 

You were on your way home when you died.
It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.
And that’s when you met me.
“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”
“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.
“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”
“Yup,” I said.
“I… I died?”
“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.
You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”
“More or less,” I said.
“Are you god?” You asked.
“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”
“My kids… my wife,” you said.
“What about them?”
“Will they be all right?”
“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”
You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”
“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”
“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”
“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”
“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”
You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”
“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”
“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”
“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”
I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.
“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”
“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”
“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”
“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”
“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”
“Where you come from?” You said.
“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”
“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”
“So what’s the point of it all?”
“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”
“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.
I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”
“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”
“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”
“Just me? What about everyone else?”
“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”
You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”
“All you. Different incarnations of you.”
“Wait. I’m everyone!?”
“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.
“I’m every human being who ever lived?”
“Or who will ever live, yes.”
“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”
“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.
“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.
“And you’re the millions he killed.”
“I’m Jesus?”
“And you’re everyone who followed him.”
You fell silent.
“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”
You thought for a long time.
“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”
“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”
“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”
“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”
“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”
“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”
And I sent you on your way.

Monday, May 11, 2015

10 Reasons to Visit South Africa

Have you always dreamed of visiting South Africa? I just got back from a two week vacation spent in Kruger National Park and Cape Town and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! I was so fascinated by the seemingly endless beauty, culture, and adventures that South Africa had to offer. So, if a trip to South Africa is not yet on your bucket list, here are 10 reasons why you should go:

  1. SAFARI #ENOUGHSAID
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Going on safari is an experience of a lifetime that you simply cannot miss out on! When else will you have the chance to get up close and personal with all kinds of amazing wildlife?? Leopards, rhinos, hippos, elephants, lions, the list goes on…South Africa is arguably the best place on the planet to go on safari and I saw all of the Big 5 within the first couple of days.

  1. FRIENDLY, HAPPY, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Whether having a drink with safari rangers or striking up a conversation with locals on the train, one thing is certain: the people here are wonderful! Maybe it’s the great weather, delicious food, or just the laid back lifestyle, but everyone in this country was so welcoming and hospitable.

  1. MELTING POT OF CUISINES
One of my favorite things about visiting South Africa is the wide variety of food options. While South African food itself is delicious (with lot’s of meat), there’s a lot of Malaysian and American influence in the cuisine - especially in Cape Town. If you love to eat, you’ll definitely satisfied!

  1. EPIC SCENERY
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This probably goes without saying, but the views here are to die for. Watching the sun set over the vast landscape of Kruger National park was incredibly unreal. But my favorite view was definitely in Cape Town, at the top of Lions Head hike. You can also climb to the top of Table Mountain for some amazing views of the city.

  1. FASCINATING HISTORY
South Africa has an incredible history of European conquest, racial violence, and the more recent political revolution led by Nelson Mandela. I learned a lot about the history of South Africa from listening to our tour guides, reading The Covenant, by James Mischer, and visiting the District 6 Museum.

  1. WORLD CLASS LIBATIONS
Wine. Great, really great wine. And Amarula. That is all.

  1. GREAT FASHION
Hipster, stylish, fashionable, whatever you want to call it, South African’s have a SUPURB fashion sense. Pair that with affordable prices, and this girl is in heaven! How cute is this sundress I found for just $18 US!
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  1. GREAT WEATHER
South Africa’s climate is rather subtropical. We went at the end of March and the weather was perfect: warm and sunny during the day, and cool at night. It can get pretty chilly in the winter (May through July) with lots of rain, but there is not heavy snow. On the flip side, it can get VERY hot in the summer (October - February) so make sure to bring your sunscreen!

  1. IT’S AFFORDABLE (compared to the US, at least!)
Affordability is all relative, but relative to the US, I was in heaven with the $1 coffees vs. my $4 Starbucks latte back home! And that dress I mentioned in #8? It would have been double the price in the US!

  1. ONLY IN SOUTH AFRICA
  • Sundowner - a drink taken as the sun goes down, AKA “happy hour” for you Americans
  • Biltong - the most amazing snack of dried meat, AKA beef jerky (but not limited to beef)
  • Springbok - shooter of mint liqueur and Amarula
  • Boboti - South African casserole made of minced meat and topped with a layer of baked egg
  • Boerewors - the most amazing sausage ever


Have you been to South Africa? What were your favorite experiences? For more details on my amazing trip, check out my South Africa blog series on Strum Simmer Sip.



Lisa Profile.pngGuest Author Bio:  Lisa is the founder and author of Strum Simmer Sip - a lifestyle blog dedicated to those who share a penchant for great food, music, and life experiences. Originally from San Francisco, CA, Lisa currently lives in Evanston, IL where she is a full time MBA student. She enjoys eating, cooking, playing guitar, traveling the world, coffee, working out (sometimes), shopping, and blogging, of course!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

If You Don't Grow, You Die

By now, most of you know Aniqah Khalid, one of my best friends and fellow writers. Usually she guest posts content she hasn't published before on my blog, but I absolutely LOVED her most recent post, and so I had to have it too! Enjoy. 

Today, on the 7th of May 2015, I have decided to embrace life and fight for my happiness and I would like all of you struggling to do this with me too. For three years, my life has been a downward spiral of anxieties, depression, negativity, paranoia and just everything wrong. I have decided to put an end to this and I have recently learned through a life changing video by Mimi Ikonn that you have to invest in sustainability. There is no magic pill where you wake up one day and everything is completely fine. You have to TRY and work at your salvation. Her tips are the ones I will share below and I challenge everyone who is mildly or severely unhappy to partake in this happiness challenge with me for a month and see how we feel by the end of it. However, we must be dedicated and work at this daily and united, and give this our absolute all. It is time to step up and fight for our happy ever afters.
1) Every morning we must CHOOSE to be happy. Life is a simple matter of attitude and outlook. Everyday we must slowly work our minds and shape them to see everything in a more positive and holistic way. Be disgustingly grateful for every small thing and hopefully make it become second nature to us.
2) It’s time to give the negative people in our life the axe. I have started doing that where I am focusing wholeheartedly on positive, inspiring, happy and focused people. You do not need the extra negativity, dealing with ourselves is hard enough, having to deal with external negativity is absolutely unnecessary. Moreover, apart from our friends and acquaintances, let us now surround ourselves with positive reading, be it books or blogs and positive entertainment; ted talks, motivational speakers, bloggers and vloggers, F.R.I.E.N.D.S and whatever makes you happy!
3) One of the things Mimi mentioned is to not watch the news. As a blogger and budding journalist this is something I was quite reluctant to try out. But the more I thought about it the more it struck me that indeed the news is so unbelievably depressing. Is it true that we should not keep a blind eye and be more compassionate to humanity, but how are you of any help to humanity where you are emotionally and mentally unstable? Help and sort yourself out first. News does indeed depress me and if there is something big that happens one is bound to definitely hear about it, but for now let us try focus on the positives happening out there.
4) It’s time to jump into the meditation pool. I find mediation extremely hard because when I focus on my mind and body they begin to play tricks on me which feeds my anxiety. However, it is not meant to be easy when you begin, but as you work at it the effects begin to pay off. It is scientifically proven that meditation produces parasympathetic healing and it is even used for healing physically and mentally ill patients. Furthermore, I have seen a first hand experience of how mediation changes a persons life through my best-friend Gurkiran. She has become a completely different girl; her outlook, mindset and mannerisms are totally different and it all stemmed from mediation. It is also a practice of many religions which is also clear evidence of how important it is. In Islam our prayers work to meditate our minds where there is only you, your soul and your Lord. I aim to try meditation at least once a day and I will come back with results.
5) Let us self reflect. I usually do this in a more “what is wrong with me?” manner. I have realized that that is definitely not a right approach. What we must do is to condition the mind to focus on the positives around us. My mind begins working when I am about to fall asleep, at that point why do I not think about all the little amazing things that happen to me during the day and scream ALLHAMDILLULAH in my heart? It’s time we change our brain wiring before it’s too late.
6) I find myself becoming day by day an emotionless stone. According to Mimi one of the underrated keys to being happy is giving out hugs. She recommends five but I am going to try three. I know this sounds utterly absurd but apparently this enhances happiness so I am going to try whatever it takes.
7) It is also time for us to start expressing our love. We are missing out on what all of these other happy twits feel when they are all mushy and lovey dovey to the people they love. I have a feeling this will greatly change our lives in more ways than we expect. This doesn’t mean just saying you love your mum, this also includes selfless acts of kindness-it’s time to tap into our unconditional love box and start thinking about others as well.
8) Let's be okay with not being 100% okay, or happy, or ‘normal’. We make a big deal about how we are feeling and we always want to figure out why. We need to learn to accept that this is a hardship and a test, and this too shall pass. In previous generations anxieties and depression were unheard of because people would understand that life most certainly has its highs and lows.
9) It is important to understand that how you are feeling is your body or soul trying to tell you to make a change. I believe that my soul is trying to tell me to respond to my religious calling. To fall in love with my faith and rediscover my creator. In other words I think I am unhappy because I am not a good Muslim and I have decided that it is finally time to change that. You need to know what it is that is bothering you and you must make the change whether its your diet, your lifestyle, your relationship, your faith or anything in your life bringing you down.
10) The last point is to have a purpose. You need to do something for yourself- we need to set challenging goals and get out of our comfort zones. When I used to hear of ‘growth’, I never fully understood it, but now I understand that growing means finding your life purpose and becoming a better person. If you do not grow you die. That was slowly happening to me which is why I have decided to take and make the change. It is time to believe in our purpose.
I am going to practice all ten points every single day till the 7th of June where I am hoping to report back a completely different person and I am greatly hoping to make these habits part of my daily routine forever. I call on everyone to partake in this challenge with me, and I would love to hear about how you are coping and if this is helping you at all. Happiness is now ours for the taking, we just have to want it that bad.
behappy

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