Holiday Reads: Wit, Weddings and Happiness

December 23, 2015

All the signs of the holidays are present. Chestnuts are roasting by an open fire. The lights are twinkling and the somewhere the little drummer boy is tap-tap-tapping away, setting up a tempo for our holiday heartbeats to synchronize to. It's cold outside and (if you're lucky) the snow has fallen, and all that's left to do now is curl up with a good book to pass the time until Santa and the gang roll up. So, here are a few merry tales to tide you into the new year.

Note: They are not in the least holiday related, but they are cheery nevertheless.

What is happiness? Or better yet, what makes people happy? A question that has plagued humanity for eons, A secret formula that is unique to every person, and one that our hero, Hector ventures out to find. As his dissatisfaction with his own life impedes his ability to help his psychiatric patients find satisfaction in their own. He sets off around the world equipped with a pen, a notebook and a sheer curiosity for what makes people tick. Along the way, he faces harrowing circumstances and meets fascinating people who help him to put the answer together one lesson at a time. His journey of culture and adventure warms the heart and the soul, as each lesson makes you consider what happiness means to you. Equal parts enlightening and reflective, Hector and the Search for Happiness will leave you with a smile on your face and excited for what the future holds in store.

There's no point in looking before crossing the road if you don't look in the right direction.
~François Lelord, Hector and the Search for Happiness

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Proving that all that glitters is not gold, Crazy Rich Asians is a fast-paced read told through multiple perspectives. We follow the story through the eyes of the newcomer (the girlfriend, Rachel Chu), to the head of the household (the mother, Eleanor Young) and everyone in between (crazy aunts, cousins, it-girls, brides-to-be, etc.). Invited by her boyfriend Nicholas Young  to visit his family in Singapore, Rachel misleadingly expects a wholesome, traditional family vacation. However, the opulence and luxury that awaits poor Rachel is as bold as the title of this book. Unknowing and unarmed, she dives headfirst into a world of paparazzi, private jets and personal assistants, in the midst of Singapore's the biggest wedding of the year. As preparations are made and gossip is spread, Rachel must find a way to stay true to herself, as details about her boyfriend's lavish past and her own more mysterious one are revealed. Humorous, entertaining and energetic, Crazy Rich Asians is jam-packed with enough family feuds and festivities to last you throughout the holidays.

Remember, every treasure comes with a price.
~Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians

By exploring the rise and fall of history's wittiest people and how they became so, Elements of Wit, seeks to show how you too can master the art. This book was as informative as it was engaging. Each chapter provided examples of history's most elegantly spoken bon vivants and how they honed their craft. Filled with plenty of one-liners, zingers, and retorts. Brimming with tales of verbal triumph and strife, Elements of Wit is every bit as humorous as it is helpful. By peeling back each layer of wit, Errett turns the seemingly illusive craft into a magical (albeit, tricky) one to master. All the while proving that in life, practice makes perfect. For earning  a coveted spot among "the great wits", has more to do with a good sense of humor, a spark of creativity, a lot of practice, then a simple stroke of luck.

Wit is comedy minus time.
~Benjamin Errett, Elements of Wit: Mastering the Art of Being Interesting

The Hidden Magic of Christmas Lights

December 14, 2015

As I write this, there are 11days, 12 hours, 12 minutes and 35 seconds left until Santa departs from the North Pole. Oops, there goes another 20 seconds. While I have passed the age where I wait impatiently for the man with the bag to shimmy down my chimney. I do impatiently count down the days until the holidays begin. I love Christmas, the holidays, the lights but most of all the atmosphere. Even though the temperature drops, the warmth in people's hearts seems to rise steadily. They are constantly th-th-thumping away in anticipation for what the holiday season will bring. Like me, they count down the very seconds until they are reunited with their loved ones--and dread the ensuing barrage of questions. The woes of the world are just a distant memory and the aroma of the holiday meals serve as a welcome buffer against the cold. But whether you countdown to Hanukkah, Kwanza or until the winter season premiere of How to Get Away with Murder airs, lights are on and they are everywhere.

Twinkling like stars in the night, burning brighter as the time draws near. In perfect synchronization, one by one families across the world turn them on. Suddenly making the unpleasant walk to school a bit more bearable, as I'm greeted by fluorescent Rudolphs, makeshift Grinches and blow-up Frosty the Snowmen. Suddenly, the skating rinks look like stained glass windows and every lap around the ice under the elaborate decor makes you feel like Cinderella at the ball. I think that in all the hubbub and the bustling that the commercial side of the holidays bring, we forget what makes Christmas truly special. The music, the snow (fingers crossed because Canadian weather has a mind of its own), the reruns and of course, the people. So, as the we get closer and closer to the special day, let your lights glow brighter and brighter.

~Alexandra XO

P.S. Google's Santa Tracker is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit before Ol' Saint Nick arrives.

P.P.S. Still trying to get into the Christmas Spirit? Click here to read more holiday tales.

From Fake to Free

November 24, 2015

Today, I've decided to switch things up a bit (literally). I've teamed up with the amazing Destiny Rose from Breakfast at Destiny's to bring you (my lovely readers) a new post from a fresh voice. Although she hails from far away Dallas, Texas, we both share a mutual admiration for all things Audrey Hepburn related, cute cafés and (of course) writing. Her blog is a great place to read up on everything from faith, to fashion, to friends and beyond. So once you've finished up here, make sure to pop on over and say hi.

Blog: Breakfast at Destiny's (
Twitter: @hi_destiny_rose
Instagram: @destinyrose____
Pinterest: Destiny Rose


Every single person wants to be accepted. The human species is really good at recognizing patterns that develop positive results and then replicating those patterns. If one activity receives praise, another person will take part in the activity to receive that same recognition. Most of the time this copycat mentality is a subconscious mentality. So what’s wrong with this tendency?

Ever since we were very young, we have been told to be unique and to chase after our individual dreams. However, we grow up looking like clones. For societies to function, we need all different types of people. All of us know that, but then we chase after what is comfortable. The need to chase the familiar is rooted inside the soul, and it blooms throughout our feelings, conversations, and actions. Talking to a fake person is one of the hardest things to get through. You feel insignificant. When people refuse to let their guards down in order to speak with people, we are left with a lot of hard-hearted people that are desperate for authenticity.

Mark Twain once wrote, “All emotion is involuntary when genuine.” How lovely would it be to witness each person expressing his or her real feelings? Now, I understand that it is easier to be guarded- to simply get from one item to the next on your checklist, but what is the point? If we aren’t striving to meet extraordinary people and cultivate relationships with them, won’t we just be selfish jerks trying to pass each other in order to get to the finish line? News flash: there is no finish line.

Everyday you get the opportunity to truly get to know others- to be inspired by remarkable people! Martha Beck said it best. “When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” Will you be everyone’s best friend? Absolutely not. Will everyone like you? No. But honestly, does everyone like you now? No. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This remodeled life of authenticity requires effort but indeed reaps the benefits. Nice falsities and small-talk are getting in the way of inspiring friendships. Instead of worrying how others view us, let’s be our whole selves, inviting those people to be their phenomenal selves. Let’s create authenticity in a world full of fake.

The Classics: Roses, Romance and Rocinante

November 07, 2015

I love reading classic novels. I like how by choosing a few different books, we get to witness the evolution of man's thought processing and prose. By visiting the past, we can clearly see how far we've come and just how small the world really is.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A cliché, but a classic one. Meet Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five sisters, bright, pretty and at the ripe age for marriage. A girl with big aspirations of love, in a world where it (and she) is defined by money, beauty and reputation. Along comes Mr. Darcy, the insufferable, handsome and debonair bachelor who earns (gasp!) £10,000 a year. We follow along as she and the rest of the characters are torn between love and duty, with their judgements clouded by their every growing sense of prejudice and pride. As we are vigorously lead through the intricacies of British Regency society, the often redundant story of boy-meets-girl blossoms into a truly evocative piece. A tale that gets better with every read and causes me to fangirl every time it's mentioned.

“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
 ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 

A heartwarming account of a little prince, his beloved rose and desert stranded pilot. We are taken on a journey full of hidden wisdom, where we are taught the power of friendship, the weight that responsibilities have on us and the virtues of love. Accompanied with small illustrations, every page is coated with magic that grabs hold of you and your imagination. Every word takes the reader deeper and deeper into their own childhood (emotionally and mentally), until the lines between age and time blur. Within every line, there are tidbits of wisdom and advice, stirring the soul, memories and tears of happiness. Reading Le Petit Prince brings a smile to your heart, and has us longing for the days when we were as unabashedly curious, hopeful and confident as the mysterious little boy with the golden hair. Short and sweet, it's a great read whether it's in the original french or any other language. 

 “You - you alone will have the stars as no one else has them...In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night...You - only you - will have stars that can laugh.” 
Quand tu regarderas le ciel, la nuit, puisque j'habiterai dans l'une d'elles, puisque je rirai dans l'une d'elles, alors ce sera pour toi comme si riaient toutes les étoiles. Tu auras, toi, des étoiles qui savent rire !

        ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saveedra

A classic story about a man named Don Quixote, who dreams of being a knight and saving his true love. With the help of his friends and a great imagination, he takes off on his quest leaving behind everything he's ever known. One man's determinations, sparks a loyal following, whimsical encounters and comic scenarios, that have been etched into my memory since the first time I read this book in Grade 5. It perfectly captures the way we all become entranced by the worlds we explore when we read a novel. We've all dreamed of being the hero in our own story, and the efforts of the well-meaning Don Quixote de la Mancha astride his trusty steed Rocinante (and accompanied by his squire Sancho Panza) proves that some dreams are worth fighting for.

“Thou hast seen nothing yet.” 
 ― Miguel de Cervantes Saveedra, Don Quixote de la Mancha

~Alexandra XO

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Chilly Weather: Ways to Fight the Cold and the Winter Blues

October 30, 2015

Winter is coming. And with it comes one of the things we love (and hate) the most about this time of the year, the cold. The transition from warm Summer weather, to the chilly Autumn temperatures often creates a lack of motivation.

Get Scented

By scented, I mean scented candles, of course. For those of us who don't have fireplaces, there's nothing like a good ol' scented candle to melt away the cold weather blues. Scented candles aren't the only way to enjoy a fresh aroma though. I love wearing scented creams, so that by bed sheets and PJs also smell like apple blossoms, vanilla woods or wild orchids. Also, putting a few drops of essential oils like lavender into water (to make a mist) or onto fake flowers (to make a DIY diffuser) gets the job done.

Shake it Up

Music is food for the soul, and a rekindled spirit is just the spark necessary to jumpstart your determination and motivation to persevere until winter break. Spend a few minutes to make several playlists that combat each of your cold weather moods. For example, I'm crankiest on my way to school, when the air is crisp and chilly and I am still sleep deprived. So the soundtrack on my walk there is full of Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Christmas songs. Also make sure to give the playlists a fun name to give you a visual pick-me-up every time you scroll through your iPod.

Wrap it all Up

Scarves are the answer to everything, in my opinion. Feeling cold? Wear a scarf. Need to make a quick getaway? Use your scarf as a rope ladder. Feeling a little underdressed? Well a nice scarf can take your style to a whole new level. They're extremely versatile and come in all shapes and colors, allowing you to add a pop of color or a splash of patterns anywhere on your body.

Get Crafty

You can never have enough room décor. I love making colourful pieces to add around my room to liven up my environment. Get festive and be inspired by the beautiful fallen leaves outside (or a few YouTube videos) to start decorating your room according to the season. It doesn't have to be a whole revamp, just a few new items or pictures here and there to breathe some life into your bedroom.

Spice Up Your Life

From the Spice Girls to Pumpkin Spice Lattes, there's something for everyone to look forward to. Chilly weather makes me crave warm meals and hot drinks with lots of spices and flavour to combat the drabness of the landscape without all of the greenery. I generally prefer my homemade pumpkin pie, but opting to watch the Spice Girls: Spice World movie works too.

~Alexandra XO

Autumn Reads: Advice, Adventure and a Bookstore

October 05, 2015


Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Brilliantly told and full of old-fashioned fun, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore won me over from the page one. We follow the young, talented, yet unemployed Clay Jannon as his new job as a bookstore's night clerk leads him (along with a medley of characters) on a quest to decode the book, unveil the secret pasts of its bizarre clientele, and unlock the key to everlasting life. Funny and thrilling, we are quickly drawn in to Clay's 21st century San Francisco and thrust into a world full of century old cults, hidden messages and Google. One part suspense, two parts adventure, one hundred percent entertainment, at the end of the ride we are left with warm smiles, open eyes and a heart left pounding from all the excitement.

After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”
― Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

Engaging, helpful and honest (of course), I loved reading this book. Even with the lack of pictures that generally fill the pages of most beauty books, I still managed to clearly understand what she was describing. If you are looking for a step-by-step explanation of how to apply makeup, then this book isn't for you. However, if you are searching for the tidbits of wisdom about all things beauty related, then you've chosen wisely. In the end, it was the author's personality that shined through and made her advice truly sink in. Frank, funny, and full of amusing anecdotes, her suggestions flowed with the rest of the prose, making me feel as if I was talking to a wise older sister, rather than some guru. Her lessons were more than just skin deep, proving once again that it takes more than a few stokes of lipstick to reveal your inner beauty.

We are not rehearsing here. We are alive now and deserve to look and feel great. Buy the neon lipstick, pour the luxury bath foam with abandon, light the candle for no discernible reason and wear Chanel No5 to the Co-op. Lovely things deserve too be seen, use and enjoyed, not hidden away. And you deserve to live well and feel great now, not later. Life is really bloody short, so stop saving things for best today.
~ Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest 

~Alexandra XO

What are you reading this fall?

Your Body is Not a Temple

September 25, 2015

Exercise and I haven't always seen eye to eye. Ex-er-cise. The very word would send shivers down my spine while unleashing a roar worthy of any lioness. A daily 30-60-minute lung torturing, body aching sweat session? No, thank you. I much rather partake in some Net-flix instead. Where at least the only pain is the emotional kind.

Alas, adolescence hit along with all the insecurities and other unnecessary tumultuous baggage that comes with it. As the homework load picked up, I began to play sports less frequently. I found myself trying to turn to exercise to fix the problems that I believed only it could mask. Boy was I wrong.

When you do things from a place of love (self-love), it's a lot easier than a place of dislike. I saw working out as the bane of my existence. A cruel tactic to make ordinary people suffer and make the extremely nimble and quick look like gods. I tried to burpee and calorie count my woes away, in the hopes of making a change, all the while reminding myself that my body is a temple.

My body is not a temple. Sacred? Yes. Important, beautiful and strong? Yes, yes and yes, but still not a temple. You are constantly changing as the years rush by, and while a temple somewhat stands the test of time, it is a fixture that doesn't adapt and evolve with its surroundings. So at one point, as the pollution and the calamities of the outside world begin to take their toll, slowly it crumbles into a pile of ancient rubble. Your body is not a temple, you will not collapse into a pile of ruins. Like a vast forest, you will continue to thrive, adapting to the change of seasons and giving birth to new ideas and dreams. Like a beacon of hope, you are are a testament to the world, as you continue to grow and reach for the sky.

Although mighty, it can take a while to see your body in this positive way. But I promise you that it is well worth the effort. Changing my mantra, helped my to see exercise under a new light. Now I actually look forward to going out and doing something that helps improve my health. Whether it's cooking up a healthy meal or working out. Personally, the gym and calisthenics weren't really for me. I prefer sports (rugby, basketball, and taekwondo), dancing (YouTube has tons of great routines to learn) and running (with friends).

I realize now that as long as your body is moving and that you are having fun, that it's truly a great tool to boost your mood and your heart rate. Ultimately, you define what healthy looks like for you, and you decide under what form you want to achieve this model of health.

“Listen to me, your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest—thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.”
― Beau Taplin

~Alexandra XO 

What do you do to show your body some love?

DIY Chalk Message Boards

September 11, 2015
DIY Chalk Message Boards

 I love chalkboards. I adore how the board can be easily reused, like a never ending canvas that allows for continuous creativity and self expression. I also love making lists, and so I find that these boards are a great way to reduce the amount of papers I have lying on my desk. This alleviates some of the guilt I have from wasting so much paper on my daily to-do lists, and makes my tasks more easier to see and ultimately accomplish. Not to mention, using chalkboard markers are much more fun then using a regular pencil. So, I made this simple DIY to keep you calm, cool and collected through the roller coaster that is life. Drum roll please. Cute, simple to make and even easier to use, I present to you DIY Chalk Message Boards.

Firstly, you will need the following tools:

Tools for the DIY Chalk Message Boards

I wanted to make this craft extremely quick and bought some spray-on chalkboard that dries in a day or two (please ensure to read the instructions on your own can). Following the directions, I searched around the house for flat objects that were dying to be up-cycled. My chosen victims were my old taekwondo boards, and my even older desk place-mat. After sanding the boards to perfect smoothness and wiping down the mat, I gave each board a quick spray or two (outdoors), let them dry (outdoors) and voila! Once completely dried, I rubbed the surface with chalk and wiped it clean.

Click here for more DIYs

I recommend using chalkboard markers or pencils instead of regular chalk--especially if the board is constantly in use--to reduce dust and preserve the writing. After purchasing a brightly colored pack, I decided to turn these planks into motivational message boards, and so I rounded up a few of my favorites from my Pinterest and hung them on my wall.


Alexandra XO

Keep in Touch : Twitter / Bloglovin' / Pinterest

Movies: My Back-to-School Favorites

September 04, 2015

If back-to-school shopping and preparations haven't been keeping you busy all week, then you are probably already in school. The big day for me is next week. And as I prepare myself physically for school with new clothes, accessories and supplies, I still can't shake the feeling of nervous excitement for my final year of high school to begin. At this point some people turn to food, others turn to working out and I turn to books (I mentioned my back-to-school faves last week), music and most importantly, movies. Other than a good read, there's nothing like a movie marathon to help you forget your woes and give you the motivation to start the new year off on a good note. So here are a few of my favourite films that I turn to when the going gets tough. They each serve a different purpose, but all manage to make me (and hopefully you as well) feel better.

For the Team Spirit: Remember the Titans

Based on a actual events that took place in 1971, the journey of a newly integrated football team is a one filled with obstacles and eventually, triumph. As the players learn to put their differences aside and work as a team, so does their hometown. Soon the high school team serves as a unifying symbol, as prejudices and hate are pushed aside. Coach Boone steers his team and the whole community towards a place of heart, mutual respect, a sense of family and "perfection" as the boys dominate the year's football season. We watch as every tackle, touchdown and successful play is more than a few points for the Titans, but a win for race relations in Virginia. An inspiring story that I have watched countless times in class and at home, it serves as a good reminder to take pride in whatever you do and to be a little friendlier to my classmates.  

Favourite Line:

Alice, are you blind? Don't you see the family resemblance? That's my brother.

For the Friendships and Music: High School Musical 1-3

A staple of my childhood and a Disney classic, I present to you High School Musical 1-3. While the trilogy did give me unnaturally high hopes for high school, it did teach valuable life lessons through the power of song, team spirit and dance. While my friends and I have yet to master the gravity defying "High School Musical jump"and I have yet to meet my own singing, dancing, basketball dunking Troy Bolton, the nostalgia brought on from seeing the movie magic unfold is priceless. While my own school may not be as cool as East High, the film taught me to not "stick to the status quo" and that sometimes all you need is a little music, a few good friends and an open mind to have the time of your life.

Favourite Line (and the best line to chant before a big game, just insert your team for Wildcats):

Chad Danforth: WHAT TEAM?
The Basketball team: WILDCATS.
Chad Danforth: WHAT TEAM?
The Basketball team: WILDCATS.
Chad Danforth: WHAT TEAM?
The Basketball team: WILDCATS.
Chad Danforth: WILDCATS?
The Basketball team: GETCHA' HEAD IN THE GAME.

For the Globetrotter: Funny Face

Starring the beloved Fred Astaire and the always elegant (and my all-time favourite) Audrey Hepburn, Funny Face is a true Cinderella story. Starting as a "funny-faced" bookstore salesgirl, Jo Stockton's intriguing appearance earns her a modelling gig , after a chance encounter with the photographer Dick Avery. The dynamic duo (plus one) head to the City of Lights for a photo shoot. Funny Face not only provided a few excellent gowns (the red Givenchy number is divine) and songs, but a fantastic dance number, serving as inspiration for everything from commercials (Gap's 2007 "Gap in Black"ad) and music videos (Countdown by Beyoncé ). It's an excellent movie when you want a change of scenery, or a reminder to take everything in stride and to never let an opportunity pass you by, whether it's running for class prez or joining the soccer team.

Favourite Quote:

Every girl on every page of Quality has grace, elegance, and pizazz. Now, what's wrong with bringing out a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence?

For the Drama and Group Dynamic : Mean Girls

Three words: high school classic. I have been watching this movie way before I could properly understand any of its content. It has been the entertainment on numerous school road trips and on sleepovers. The comic one-liners and scenes has shaped the way numerous students imagine high school to be, a jungle filled with popular girls clothed in pink, outrageous school-wide fights and of course, a burn book. While most of what is depicted will probably never occur in ones high school career, the film reminds us that school--especially high school-- isn't half bad. Or at least it makes us grateful that "fetch" hasn't caught on, and that Regina George isn't real.

Favourite Line:

One time, she punched me in the face. It was awesome.

For the Future Ms. Career Gal: 13 Going on 30

I have yet to watch a movie with a dance scene to Michael Jackson's Thriller of this calibre. Not to mention the whole concept of the film itself. A 13-year-old miraculously turning into a 30-year-old, earning her a glimpse into her future as a self-made woman. Yes, please! If the dance scene doesn't cheer you up, Jenna's mistakes and mishaps as she tries to connect the dots, correct her past mistakes, while managing her career, makes next week's slew of assignments seem a little more manageable.

Favourite Line:

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

For the Peppy Prepster: Bring It On

This high-flying-hip-hopping-spirit-finger-wielding movie is bound to put you in a better mood. It's like Mean Girls,  full of sass and attitude, mixed with lots of pep, spirit sticks and team curses. As the new cheer captain Torrance tries to steer her team to victory, she faces a few obstacles in the form of their school rivals, the Clovers. Old squad secrets are brought to light, serving as a true lesson on plagiarism. Torrance's championship Toros must start from scratch, and are forced to search for inspiration in the most unlikely of places in order to redeem their title and have what it takes to "bring it" against Isis' Clovers.

Favourite Line:

Follow me, or perish, sweater monkeys. 

Here's to great year everyone!

Alexandra XO

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My Back-to-School Favourites

August 26, 2015

As the summer draws to a close and changes begin to take place, having a bit of familiarity in my life helps to make the transition from the routine of leisure, to the strict and time-crunched schedule that school creates. There are many vices I turn to in order to cope with the arrival of the new school year, such as watching a movies on Netflix, tackling a tough recipe, or revising last year's notes (it is always on my list but never actually gets accomplished), but reading is the most effective one. Cracking open an old book is like revisiting an old friend. The familiar words are like a warm hug, and flipping through the pages is like leafing through an old scrapbook, with each new chapter evoking a strong sense of nostalgia. 

The key word for me this school year is balance, a healthy balance. I will no longer spend hours and hours on school work while depriving myself of the ability to experience and take part in activities that bring me happiness and keep me sane. In regards to reading, last year was my worse by far. My list of books to read grew longer as the months dragged by, but very few of them actually made it into my hand or off of my shelf. In an effort to change that I've relaunched this segment, in which I will share a short review of a few books (approximately 1-3) that I've managed to read over the months. I am aiming to add a few more novels every month, but as you well know, life happens.

For Romance and Magic: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The "true" story of Wendy, the Lost Boys, Peter Pan and of course Tiger Lily, told by the beloved (and mischievous) Tinker Bell. Although small and mute, the fairy puts aside her tricks long enough to give us insight into this new version of Neverland, and the origins of Princess Tiger Lily.  The author does a fantastic job at pulling our heartstrings and sending us back to a time and a place where fairies and man coexisted, and to grow old was an impossibility.  By closely mirroring the world that J.M. Barrie created all those years ago in the original Peter Pan, the tale of romance between the wild Peter and the brave Tiger Lily seamlessly incorporates itself into the already beloved tale. Captivating, riveting and full of intrigue, I love reading this book again and again.

Favorite Quote:

 “Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we’re only what we’ve done and what we are going to do.”Tiger Lily

For an Adventure and Mystery: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

One boy. One dog. One mystery which sends our young protagonist Christopher Boone on a  path towards adventure, independence and uncovering his family's secrets. Through his unconventional way of seeing the world, be prepared to have your own eyes opened as well. While overcoming the difficulties of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), he uses his talents to show us a much more logical world, that is no less devoid of heart and emotion than a "regular" one. Get ready to "feel" for Christopher on his journey, as one curious incident unfolds right after the other. Be prepared to cheer at his triumphs and sigh at his unlikely encounters. One event leads to a whole slew of them turning Christopher and our lives upside down.

Favourite Quote:

"Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them." --The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

For Advice and Inspiration: What to Wear, Where! by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power

I love the website Who What Wear. It's where I turn to fulfill my fashion fix, and for inspiration for a new outfit. So as soon as I heard that the creators of the site had published this book-- albeit a few years late--, I ran to my local library and quickly read the book from front to cover. The book is a feast for the eyes and ignites the fashion spirit in all of us. If you have ever been invited to an event and stressed about what or what not to wear, or need inspiration for a back-to-school outfit, then this is the book for you. Although a lot of the outfits shown might be too glamorous for an academic environment, the advice is sound and the looks can be tweaked to your liking. Clear and concise, every outfit has an accompanying picture, description of the event, and suggestions for further arrangements. From first dates to first interviews, the book truly offers an outfit for "every occasion A to Z". 

Favorite Quote:

"When it comes to fashion, there are very few rules that apply to everyone, all of the time." --What to Wear, Where!

If you have any suggestions, I would be thrilled to hear and take a look at them! Leave a comment below, or tweet me at @itsMsTLilly!


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Senior Year Musings (or the Hidden Wisdom of Paper Towns)

August 05, 2015

Finally, this is the moment I have been waiting for my whole life, Senior Year. The time when I am the eldest among the youngest, and the wisest amongst the foolish. There has been so much building up to this year that I can't help but wonder where all of the time has gone. I have reached that scary point where what actually occurs in the movies is somewhat relevant to my own life. Where I can find myself within the books I read and can find familiarity in the tales that others tell of their own "teenhood".

Senior Year. The more I say it, the more I hope that it will sink in. It's the dawn of a new era, and the ending of a world that was so familiar to me not-so-long ago. "It is a whole new experience!" they say, "Enjoy it!" they cry and "You will miss it!"they assure me. Miss it. It? I never really understood what it was until a few afternoons ago. While sitting the chilly mall theater with a few of my old friends, I watched as the characters contemplated the culminating events of their own Senior Year. The year full of first and last times, full of it.
“I'd had nearly four years of experience looking at these clocks, but their sluggishness never ceased to surprise. If I am ever told that I have one day to live, I will head straight to the hallowed halls of Winter Park High School, where a day has been known to last a thousand years.”
― John Green, Paper Towns   

And where a year has been know to last an eon. An entire lifetime gone in the blink of an eye. A whole world where time is spent following a repetitive schedule, doing things that you will probably never do again. That my friends is it. The people, the memories, the fears, the laughs, the mistakes and yes, even the classes. It,  a two letter word with a double meaning. It itself contains all of the moments that make up life. All of life's fleeting moments that will never happen again, but that will never leave you the same way.

You will remain forever changed, but in order for this change to take place, you need to be present. You cannot keep waiting until the next Senior Year, or the next big chapter in your life, you need to willingly turn the page. You need mount your trusty steed, sword in hand, and gallop in the search of it.

As John Green wrote in the book Paper Towns, “At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you'll look back down and see that you floated away, too.” While I am not thrilled that school is starting, I am excited for this new year, to finally stop floating and begin rising to the occasion. I look forward to not just floating amidst the clouds, but taking control of the winds and blow them in the right direction. While, the beginning of Senior Year may be green light that launches me onto the right path, I can assure you that the ending of it will not be marked with a red or yellow light. I will not pass Go and collect my 200 dollars, I will speed up and reach new heights. And while I don't know what is in store, but in the words of John Green, I do know how I will feel,

"Young. Goofy. Infinite.”

― John Green, Paper Towns  


~Alexandra XO 

Keep in Touch : Twitter / Bloglovin' / Pinterest

The 2015 Pan American Games: A Life-changing Summertime Adventure

July 27, 2015
Original Picture via

I've always scoffed at movies which showed summertime as being some sort of yearly renewal of enlightenment. Regardless of genre or age group, they all follow a similar timeline in their quest to craft the perfect coming-of-age tale. Usually, the unhappy protagonist is tossed into a leadership position, they inevitably succeed and then return home confident and wiser. Generally, the film is characterized by a bully -- it can be a strict parent, an even stricter boss, or a ruthless ninja assassin-- who gets kicked to the curb near the end of the film. With such a promising premise, I, like so many others look forward to the beginning of summertime.

In retrospect, I was a probably a bit jealous. I wanted to go on a thrilling 2-month long adventure in which I got to slay the dragon, save the kingdom and win the prince's heart. I waited impatiently for the day when some Sherlock-level mystery would fall at my doorstep, and I would find myself sorting through salicious gossip and cold-hearted fiends to solve the case. Yet, in all of my time spent waiting, it never occurred to me that in order to take part in the stories that I loved to read and watch, that I would have to be the author of my very own narrative. I failed to see how I was standing in my own way of finding this so-called "summertime enlightenment". Cliché, I know but the truth nevertheless.

I had promised myself last summer that this one would be different. Not only would I rest up from the long-months spent hunched over my textbook, fingers cramped from typing and bloodshot eyes held open by toothpicks and Washi tape. I would prep for the scholarly "New Year" - the first day of school (A much more sullen "holiday". Instead of ushering in the year with cheery music, you are welcomed to the sound of your 7am alarm ringing). I would create my own coming-of-age story, and take the first step towards my grand adventure.

My saving grace came in the form of applying to volunteer for the Pan American Games. An experience which has simultaneously stripped me of my energy physically, while electrifying my mind and my motivation for the future. My short month spent there has taught me more about the world and about myself than anytime spent in school could provide. In three weeks, I have met so many volunteers who have redefined the meaning of dedication, heart and unity. In this small period of time I've attended my first opening and closing ceremony, olympic level sport's event and concert (Pitbull, Kanye and Serena Ryder are great live). In one short month, I've made the leap from a sure teenager to a confident young adult.

I have learned resourcefulness, spontaneity and quick-thinking as my fellow volunteers and I strived to solve problems with what little knowledge we did have (with the help of our supervisors we turned into a troop of customer service MacGyvers. I have seen firsthand how much  the pwer of a sincere smile, a quick hello and little bit of confidence can brighten someone's day. Although I've never left my city, my countless encounters with members of the participating 41 countries have left me feeling as if I had just taken a tour around the world -- at this point I fully expect a mild tan or to find seashells and sand in my purse. I encourage everyone to seize the opportunity to take part in some sort of similar event, because I promise you that it will be a truly unforgettable experience which leaves you with too many fun pictures and lessons that I can't possibly share in one blog post. You will see things and do things which will make you grow and expand your horizons, which ultimately is what a (life-changing) summertime adventure really is.

~Alexandra XO

Keep in Touch : Twitter / Bloglovin' / Pinterest

The Magic of the Silver Screen

June 29, 2015

Recently, I heard the gripping tale of the Angulo family. The six  Angulo brothers had spent a good portion of their lives pent up indoors unable to communicate with the outside world. Their saving grace? Watching movies. Utterly enamored by the movies they had seen (over 2000 of them), they turned to filmmaking in order to gain knowledge, offering them a gateway "into another world" where they and not their father held the keys. Now the subject of new documentary, The Wolfpack, the brothers and their mother have been liberated from their prison home and are each navigating modern society and leaving a mark on this world  on me. Not simply because they were trapped in their tiny New York apartment until most of them were well in their teens, but because they are a living testament to all of the inspiration that a single motion picture can provide.

The cinema has the power to create emotions, and an unwavering ability to bring people together in the most wondrous ways. All it takes is one thing. One short but expertly delivered line can stick in your mind forever. One scene can open doors that you never knew existed. One song, can implant a dream in your heart that will change your life forever.

I can assure you that there is no greater pleasure in my heart than the thought of watching a new movie. From a young age I've been exposed to the work of the greats, and the many masterpieces within different genres and countries of the world. Watching movies quickly became a part of my diet. For breakfast, an old black and white Elvis musical (preferably Viva Las Vegas). For lunch (and before soccer practice), an action-thriller like The Italian Job. And if I was lucky, I could sneak in a Disney classic for dessert (usually The Lion King). The trip to the theatre not only offered me a chance to indulge in unhealthy amounts of popcorn and play in the arcade (bumper cars and mini bowling were the best), it was an opportunity to visit another place. To explore worlds unknown to my young self, gain precious insight into the adult world (that now that I'm older prove to be mostly false -- *cough cough cough* High School Musical ), and the ability to start the all important task of making my own future. The experience is similar to that of little orphan Annie's (the 1982 version, not the newest one) except instead of falling asleep, I'm enlightened and awakened.

As a result, from the moment I see the glossy poster on the side of a bus, it's love at first sight and I am instantly reeled in (pun intended). Like any other fanatic, my heart begins to race and a high-pitched squeal rises in my throat as I wave my arms around like a real life inflatable wacky waving inflatable tube person. Before the film's characters get a chance to capture my attention, the title of the feature itself has managed to tug on my heartstrings. I applaud its handiwork, its unfailing ability to make me feel giddy with joy, but fraught with anticipation from the moment I hear the release date.

Through films I have learned patience, a skill earned after many bouts of waiting for a movie to premiere. A talent I have honed as I've distracted myself with reruns of other released flicks. A skill I've mastered after watching trailers over and over again in hopes of catching a detail I might have missed before. Unsatisfied, I watch character interviews to bide the time until the big day.

Flash forward a few months. Exams have been written, the snow has melted away, and the era of summertime blockbusters begins. Suddenly, there is no time between me and my chosen motion picture. With ticket in hand I rush with wide eyes and smiles into the cinema. A place where art in all of its forms comes to life. A place where emotions and imaginations are set free with every special effect, orchestrated suspenseful moment and twist and turn.

Swept by the flow of the crowd, I walk float with building anticipation towards the appropriate viewing room. With every step taken and with every sound of the undercooked (overpriced) popcorn, stomping and popping to the beat of the move goers hearts, I draw closer and closer to my goal. The lights go out, a hush falls over the crowd and I settle into a place where reality is left behind and a new world is mine for the taking. Handing the reigns over to the creator of the film, I allow myself to be taken on a journey. Entrusting my time and hard earned dollars is a task for the most devoted of souls. Faithfully, I surrender to the magic of the story playing out before me, all the while praying that bits and pieces of it will stay with me long after the theatre lights have turned on again.

A few hours later I emerge from the premises filled with a renewed sense of hope, restored faith in humanity, a new friend, and heartbroken at the thought of never being able to experience the film with fresh set of eyes again. Torn between the value of my sanity and the amount of cash in my wallet, I contemplate watching it once more (in 3D). Happily, I  try and fail to recount the adventure I've had the pleasure to partake in and the people I've met. Resigned, I return home, with hope that this spell it has cast will last me until the following summer. Until then the cycle continues, and I wait patiently for news of its return to the big screen.

P.S. For more on The Wolfpack click here

There's an App for That: An Application to Keep You Hydrated

June 22, 2015

A few months ago, if you had asked me whether or not I thought caring for a plant on my phone would improve my health, I would have laughed. I didn't know that clicking download in the the app store would be the catalyst to helping me focus more on myself. I have a lot of lifestyle applications on my phone that I loved from day one, but this one took a little longer to grow on me. So, without further ado, I present to you the water-reminder application, Plant Nanny.

The name and the concept itself sounds a bit bizarre, but I can assure you that the results are not. You begin your Plant Nanny journey by picking one of the many adorable plants, choosing a pot and naming your new companion. Then after filling out some information about your height, weight and age, you can begin "watering" your plant with the simple press of a button. Operating on a system of trust, you are basically the owner of a garden on your phone. The more water you drink, the more it grows and the more you become addicted.

Initially, I was forcing myself to drink the designated amount of water, but soon I reached a point where the line between the game and reality blurred. I went from being a skeptic who drank around 1000 mL of water, to a firm believer who drank almost 3000. I began drinking mostly to keep the plant alive, and less for myself. And therein lies the power of the app. The plants are so cute that you can't help but want to help them grow and add more to your collection. The app has found a way to harness the power of sheer cuteness and used it as an incentive to keep us plant nannies hydrated. The creators of this app have strategically distracted us with the various personalization options and detailed storylines of each plant so that we don't realize that we are getting healthy. All we can focus on is having fun, which in my opinion is the best way to get things done whether it's for studying or exercising.  

I'll admit that Plant Nanny-ing isn't for everyone. I have friends who think I've gone mad, and laugh whenever I get excited about a new plant, but at least I'm hydrated. Like I said, it operates on a trust system, so you really need an open mind and the willpower to actually press the button when you've actually drunk something and not to keep your plant from dying. However there is little to stop you from doing so, and like I told my friend when she tried to water my plant herself, "The only loser in this situation would be yourself and your health". With a little determination, your plant pal by your side and a set goal in mind, you'll be well on your way to a well hydrated body and glowing skin. 


What apps do you use to help you stay healthy?

Making the Most Out of Your Summer Vacation

June 22, 2015
After several months of rain, snowstorms, and cold weather spent searching for pictures of faraway destinations while impatiently waiting for the Sun to shine, we finally have Summer. Finally, there is no homework, no rules or fixed schedules, and only opportunities and adventures to look forward to. Our only enemy is time, always ticking away in a never-ending countdown until September until we're trapped inside the school once more. While we can't turn back time, we can seek to properly use the time we are given by not sitting idle, and being willing to step outside the door with an open mind and curious hearts.

After a long Winter spent looking at faraway Summer destinations in order to

How to Deal with Stress the Day of the Big Test

June 08, 2015

I've taken plenty of tests over the years, allowing me to make plenty of errors. On the bright side, all of my mistakes have allowed me to create a lot of test hacks. So, here are a few of my best tips that I follow in order to deal with stress on the day of the big test.

Reduce Stress the Morning of the Exam:

Be prepared

Before you enter that testing zone, make sure that you have all your supplies. Find out beforehand what you are allowed to bring to avoid any unnecessary surprises. I learned the hard way that my school doesn't allow us to test with our pencil cases or with water bottles that have any removable wrapping. Instead of using a clear ziplock bag like everyone else, I had to hastily empty out my well-organized pencil case.

Eat well

Writing an exam is like training for a marathon. In order to succeed, you need to eat well and hydrate. The proper nutrients help you to reduce stress during the test because you don't have to worry about how loud your stomach is growling. It helps you to focus on your task, and not on what your post-test snack will be. 

Dress comfortably

When you are running a marathon you want to have the best sports attire to keep you moving. The same principle applies to writing an exam, except comfort and layers are key. This way, you can add or peel off a layer based on how you are feeling. No one wants to be the girl who is filling out the scantron card with one hand, and fanning herself with the other.

Review (briefly)

The key word here is briefly. Don't cram, especially not right before the exam. Trust me, it will just add to the amount of stress you may already be feeling. Once you've finished reviewing, take a break and move on to the next step.


Take a few minutes to imagine yourself taking the test. Picture yourself being confident, and recite positive phrases to psyche yourself up, not out. This is a small, yet crucial step which can help me reduce stress while putting a smile on my face.

Reduce Stress During the Test:

Don't sweat the small stuff

Do not devote your whole time to one single question. Try it, but if you are still stumped, bookmark it and return to it later. Focus on the questions that you can answer, then come back to the rest when you have a clearer mind, and can approach it from a new angle.

Read the question

I've been one of those people who skimmed through a question to save time, thought she understood it and dove right in, only to realize that I had either missed some critical info or answered the wrong portion. Don't be that person, make the right choice and read the entire question.

Tune out everyone else

When studying for the SATs, every website I read kept telling me to not worry about anyone else because they were completing a different section than me. I only looked up for two reasons during the test: to check the time and to check the time until our next break. During one of those moments, I looked to the right and saw the person beside me zooming through the questions. In retrospect, this was either because he had been completing the grammar portion while I had been doing math or because he was just a whizkid. Either way, it managed to make me anxious, lose my focus and my mojo.

Pace yourself

The clock is your best friend, and time is your enemy. Having a watch is a great way to help you stay on track, and pace yourself so that you don't spend too much time on one section.


P.S. Check out, How to Deal with Stress Before the Big Test Day.

How to Deal with Stress Before the Big Test Day

June 01, 2015

When it comes to tests--especially important ones--I tend to get stressed and I'm not the only one. There have been days when as soon as the papers were handed out, I froze, my mind blanked out, and I was left with a bad mark, and the fiery determination to not let this happen to me again. Unfortunately, it did. I've had a rough year, but I've managed to calm my nerves and  boost my confidence. I've also decided to exact the ultimate revenge against test stress by creating this three part series. 



Don't lose hope just yet. Although nerves can get the best of you, it's important to focus on the information you already know. In order to deal with your test stress, you need to take comfort in the fact that you have been learning this subject all year.


Do not spend the day before the test or exam immersed in a pile of textbooks, flashcards and the audio version of your notes. Go over everything briefly, and only focus on what you are unsure of and/or what you know will be on the evaluation.


Do not constantly think about the test and all of the possible questions that could be asked. There is no possible way of you knowing the type of information unless you do the test itself. Think and worry about things that you can control and not those that you cannot.

Pull an all-nighter

Get sleep, and lots of it. Next to diamonds, Nutella and comfy pyjamas, sleep is a girl's best friend. Go to bed at a decent hour so you will wake up fresh and ready to get going, rather than groggy and stressed. Although cramming into the wee-hours of the night seems like it helps, it really doesn't. On the test itself you need the sense of alertness that sleep gives you in order to not make minor errors that will cost you marks.

Hold yourself hostage

Get outside, and get moving. Grab a friend or a sibling and go find a fun activity that will take your mind off of studying for a few hours. This will help your brain not to "overheat", and keep you motivated and energized if the need to do some last minute reviewing should arise.

Psyche yourself out

Think about all of the good things that final tests symbolize. With final exams, comes the end of school, bringing summer vacation, sleeping in, spending more time with friends and family, etc. In other words, this is just one minor obstacle in the way of  one long fun summertime. Once you cross it off your list, you are free to spend your time the way you want.

Ignore your friends

A good friend will pick up the phone and listen to your problems, but a great friend will do all of that and give you a good verbal slap in the face. They will help you to calm down, get a grip and remind you that it is just a test and that you are going to do great. Or better yet, they will help you to do a quick review and clear up any remaining doubts you have.

P.S. Click here for more study tips and tricks.


DIY Paint Drip Bottle Holders

May 25, 2015
I've recently been bit by the spring cleaning bug, and so every moment not spent finishing up assignments or studying for exams has been devoted to cleaning up my bedroom. I had these old Starbucks bottles sitting in my room for a while now, and so during a study break I decided that it was time to unleash my artistic spirit.

As the name suggests, I decorated the inside of these bottles by letting acrylic paint drip down and dry inside of them. This craft requires very little tools or work. Just drip, swirl, dry and presto! I hope that these help to freshen up your bedroom for the new spring season and that you put them to good use.


  • Empty glass bottles
  • 4 different acrylic paint bottles 
Note: Bottles are a quicker and less messier to use, but using a brush to let the paint drip inside works too.


  1. Rinse the bottles, and remove the labels and any residue on the front.
  2. Choose one color as your base. This will be the one you use first and will ultimately show up the most. (I used a  special metallic silver)
  3. Once the bottle is dry, squirt your base color in the bottle, swishing the paint until desired coverage is reached.
  4. You can either let this layer dry completely (I didn't), or continue step number 3 with your other colors. 
  5. Leave the bottle to dry overnight until all the paint has hardened.
  6. Insert your supplies and you're done.


  • Don't use too much paint! Trust me, I went a bit overboard and when gravity took its toll it made the paint cover more surface area than I had intended.
  • Check the label. My paint was fast-drying (a.k.a. a real blessing). It got the job done quickly and didn't continuously drip everywhere, 
  • Be patient. Let it dry properly before putting your supplies inside the bottle.


7 Ways to Study Better and Ace your Exams

May 18, 2015

As most students know, as the spring arrives and the sun shines brighter, the less of it you actually see. Every year at this time, just as the weather gets nicer and you can practically taste the summer warmth, school decides to throw its students one last curveball called exams. It's the inevitable hurdle that each student has to successfully clear before getting to enjoy the summer. Despite the added stress, we don't get an added month off to study for exams, and so it's important to spend what little time that you do have efficiently. Hopefully, the following tricks along with my note taking tips should help you do just that.

1. Location, location, location

 Pick somewhere comfortable, that won't distract you (or make you fall asleep) like the library. Make it somewhere easily accessible where you have enough space to spread out all of your study equipment, and where you will be able to use the following steps.

2. Make a playlist

 I love making playlists for anything I do. I have one for working out, walking to school, boosting my mood and several for studying or schoolwork. When doing my homework I generally listen to either classical music (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bach), or the scores to some of my favourite movies (How to Train Your Dragon, Pride and Prejudice, any Disney movie, etc.) so as to not be distracted by the lyrics in most songs. This is a tactic that works for many others as well, and can be easily adapted based on your study methods. Just remember not put the volume on full blast (it defeats the purpose).

3. Break it down

 If the idea of studying for one hour makes you sick, try studying for 30 minutes at a time and taking breaks in between. Set an alarm to your desired time frame, take a break and then get back to work.

4. Treat yourself

 Another way to motivate yourself to work hard is to promise yourself a little treat. The longer the study period, the bigger the prize. For every 25 minutes of studying, you get a 5-minute break to make yourself a snack or check your phone. Or how about for every hour of reviewing, you get a longer break of 30 minutes to watch a missed episode? Only you know what motivates you to get work done. Figure it out, and get it done.

5. Make it a group activity

 Whether it’s when you need advice or just to have a fun time, friends are always useful when you are in need. Turning solo studying into group studying, is bound to motivate you to study longer, harder and more efficiently. As soon as you begin to slack off, your friend will be there to make sure you focus, or to remind you to take a break.

6. Shake it up

  There comes a time during the studying process when no amount of determination or motivation can help you to focus on the task at hand. This is your body’s way of telling you to take a break. Do not fight it. Do not try to uselessly binge read information in hopes of it sticking in your mind – it just won’t. Close your books and your computer, get up and move around. Go for a walk, or a jog, just get the blood flowing and allow yourself to relax. The change of scenery will help to get you in the zone, and make the rest of your studying much more bearable.

7. Sleep

 Just get enough sleep. Last year, I was the queen of all-nighters. I would stay up until 4am studying and doing work, only to be completely unable to focus throughout the day. I was young and foolish, and now I am young and a lot wiser. Trust me when I say that whatever you do, make sure you get a goodnight’s sleep.

~ Alexandra

For study tips and tricks visit or, or the Google Chrome webstore for useful browser extensions. 

How do you stay focused?  

The Importance of Putting Yourself First

May 04, 2015

I am a pretty busy person. I generally only have 3 days of the week where I am free to do as I please. As the school year draws to a close, so does my amount of free time. I have a perfectly packed schedule in which I have to accomplish everything when I set time aside for it in order to not overwhelm myself.

In the past, I was great at sticking to my own agenda and successfully crossing things off my to-do list. One week flowed smoothly into the next, developing a cycle of extremely stressful weeks and extremely calm weekends. But life, as you know is never calm. Soon, the line between work and play blurred, and I found myself stuck in a living nightmare filled with endless bouts of sleep deprivation,  and large amounts of stress. 

Then I came across this quote, 

"I don’t care if you have 3 hours of homework left. If your friend is crying, you need to go comfort her. If your boyfriend is upset, you need to go give him a hug. If your mother wants to talk, talk to her. If your brothers are jumping in leaf piles, go join them. If your family wants to go out to eat, go with them. You can’t miss your life because of the demands of school. You can always finish homework later or get one bad grade; but life.. you can’t push that off for later. You only get that one chance. And no homework assignment is more important than actually living your life."

Which made me question why I could carve enough time out of my life to finish all of my homework, but I couldn't find it in me to actually find a moment to do something for myself. How much of my happiness and sanity, was I willing to sacrifice in order to ensure that I got all "E"s for excellent on my next report card? How many weekends was I prepared to spend locked in my room, hunched over my textbook, for the sake of a good grade? The answer as it turned out was way too many. I had already spent six months of flourishing academically but remaining stunted in growth in all other aspects of my life. On my report card, everything was as it should be, but I wasn't any closer to fulfilling any of my own goals than when I first made them six months ago. 

Now I'm not saying that school isn't important, but making your whole life revolve around one aspect is. Whether it's sports, work or animals, once you have more focus on it than taking care of yourself and your needs, it becomes a problem. Yet, I think the real dilemma that many of us share is our difficulty with putting ourselves first. We see relaxation as detrimental to achieving our goals, rather than as a necessary water break after a marathon. Sometimes, taking a pause doesn't mean putting our whole life on hold, but actually jump starting it to the next level. 

Putting oneself first is often promoted as selfish, but I think that it's the key to helping others. If you are unhappy, you'll feel as if everything you do is harder than it truly is. If you are too busy focusing on how tired you are, how can you accomplish anything to the best of your abilities? The truth is that you can't. And that's why there comes a time where you have to stop neglecting your needs and your happiness and start caring for yourself, in order to put your best foot forward. 


For more on why you should put yourself first, click here

How do you find me-time?

You Are Enough.

April 20, 2015
There are many instances in life where one can feel like they’re not enough. It can happen anywhere, and with anyone. It can be when someone races past you on the track, or when you don’t get accepted into the program of your dreams. From your peers at school, to your co-workers, anyone can serve as your source of comparison, which can either leave you energized and motivated to take on a new task, or left reeling after becoming aware that you aren’t as good as that other person.

We all have our unique talents. Whether it’s being able to reach your nose with your tongue, or reaching the finish line way before everyone else, it is still that something that sets you apart from the others. That special something that may have given you a knack for being the life of every party, or a knack for getting yourself out of tricky situations. A talent that helps you stand a little taller, and smile a little wider, when you’ve had a rough day. A talent which you quickly forget, as soon as one of those instances occurs.

Whether it’s been on the field, in school or while flipping through a magazine, there has been a time when I had seen someone do something incredible, who looked really pretty, or who easily got the grade that I was fighting to achieve, and thought, “Why can’t I be her?” Usually, it’s just a fleeting thought and with a flick of my wrist I can easily sweep the question out of my mind before it can actually do some damage. Every once and a while, there is that one seed of doubt which –much to my dismay--succeeds in embedding itself and occupying all of my thoughts.

The truth is, that I have yet to master the ability to run very fast for long periods of time, but I have endurance that can last me for days, and during game time I can sprint as fast anyone else. In retrospect, 2 out of 3 is fantastic, but I’d had the feeling of watching others rush past me, instead of speeding along with them. Instead of focusing on my technique, I spent half my energy wondering if my teammates were laughing at me and the other half feeling humiliated for coming in dead last. I could not see past this moment, towards all my skills that allow me to excel and gotten me my spot on the rugby team. Ultimately, my split  focus caused me to mess up there as well, further continuing the cycle.

I didn’t have an epiphany. I wasn’t struck by a well-aimed bolt of lightning, inspiring me to make a change. Instead, I was hit with two well-timed bolts of pure frustration. The first one hit during Taekwondo, when I had messed up the routine that I had just done perfectly a little less than five minutes ago. The second came the next day, in the middle of a scrimmage as I watched the lemon-shaped ball bobble right past me, instead of snatching it and taking off down the field. Both times I was consumed by my own inner monologue of negativity, and both times I had a coach mention that I should get my head in the game.

As practice wore on, I watched as some of the girls who overtook me on the track, struggled to do properly grasp the techniques that came so naturally to me. And it was as I finished my brief lesson that it all clicked. The sluggishness wasn’t only a result of my incapability to keep up, but a by-product of all this self-comparison. I got so lost wanting to try and be as good as my teammates, that I forgot that I actually am a part of the team. When we win, it’s as a team, and when we lose, it’s as a team. We all have our own roles that are suited to all of our strengths and weaknesses, and all that we can do is give it our all.

It’s easy and human to get caught up in what others do well, but it’s important to not forget that we have little gems of talent too. Maybe that same person who you look at with such admiration, is thinking the same thing about in the area that you excel at. In the end, we should look at one another’s gifts and receive a small spark of motivation, and not be overcome with a sinking feeling. We should share and feed off one another’s successes, and take pride in the fact that we are enough, we are great at what we do and smile, with the thought of being able to inspire others as well.

The Many Faces of Fear

April 06, 2015

Fear is a very multi-faceted thing. Regardless of age, fear only serves two purposes with the first one being to paralyze us and to stop us from evolving and becoming everything we are made to be.

What am I afraid of? When I was younger, it was of unseen creatures that went bump in the night. Fear was that cold feeling that kept you awake and that could only be cured with a kiss Goodnight. Now, it’s of tangible things and feelings that can happen to anyone. It often arrives disguised as butterflies in my stomach as an important day approaches. Fear no longer takes the form of the Bogeyman or the Chupacabra, and it is not written in books, whose pages are stained brown with time, and are heavy with the stories of ancient myths and legends. It is an emotion stirred up by the slightest mention of a solo presentation, or upon being called on to answer a question in class. Fear is no longer about what some mythical creature can do to you, but what you might end up doing to yourself.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” -Marianne Williamson

I’ve had this quote on my wall for many years, and it’s only recently that I have come to understand what it truly means. For years, those words have hung over my bed, with the words imprinting themselves deeper in my mind every time I step foot in my room, every time I wake up and every time I lay down to sleep. Like an itch you can’t scratch, the words have continued to resonate within me until I could finally understand their meaning. I suppose it’s the sort of question, whose answer is earned when you reach a specific age or a certain stage in your life, because I’ve come to realize that it is that same fear that stops me from sometimes saying what needs to be said. It is that same kind of fear, which used to stop me from writing what and how I wanted to write. Yet, it is the same fear that has taught me to live boldly, laugh freely and love completely.

In other words, fear’s other purpose is to push us forward, unlock hidden skills and to show us how to wield our new found talents with a bit more grace and agility. As a whole, it serves to help us rise to the occasion or to crush us under the weight of it all. Like the straw that breaks the camel’s back, I thought that my fear of heights would be what would prohibit me from truly living my life. Yet, it has been the one thing that has shown me how much strength I truly have. In the twenty seconds of courage that it took me to step off of that zip-lining platform, I learned more about myself and about life than I ever had before. Sometimes the smallest in the right direction is all that you need to take your life in a whole new direction. It may feel scary and it may seem like the hardest thing at the time, but every other one after that will feel like you are gliding.

~Alexandra :)

How does fear affect you?