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.

5 Important Life Lessons The Mindy Project Taught Me

December 07, 2015

I don't normally obsess over a television series, but when I do, it's generally for a good reason. The whole month of November has been a blur of sports, school and The Mindy Project. I discovered it one Friday night, and the next thing I knew it was already Saturday morning and I was halfway through season one. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. I'm hooked on the show, Mindy Kaling is my new role model and Mindy Lahiri is my spirit animal. I've chatted just about everyone'es ear off about this show (sorry, guys!) and successfully convinced a few of them to give the show a try (thank you!). Now as I near the end of season 3, I've been graced with a few nuggets of Mindy Lahiri wisdom that I'm thrilled to pass on to you.

The (Insert your name here) Project

Mindy's quest to find true love came once she realized that she wasn't leading the life she truly wanted to live. Determined to stick it to the man, get herself a man and have a little fun, she turned life's lemons into lemonade and got to work on herself. A trying task, but a noble one that's well-worth the effort in the end. Reminding us, that life is what we make of it and the sooner and harder we work on making it better, the greater it will be.

Life is a balance

Mindy Lahiri's current boy-crazed state is a product of too many romcoms and years of focusing solely on getting her degree, becoming a partner in her firm and mastering her craft. By watching her maneuver from dancing with her friends to prepping for a baby delivery, I've learned that you've got to focus on what's most important to you. In other words, some things are worth setting aside in order to create more opportunities in the future.

Roll with the punches

Whether it's falling ill halfway through your mission's trip or having your heartbroken, sometimes you've just got to roll with the punches. Mindy gets herself in some pretty precarious--although humorous--situations, where everyone from best friend to co-worker eventually gets involved. Not one to wallow self-pity, she handles these hiccups with class and often with a funny joke or two. Her attitude towards the trials and tribulations she faces show that the breadth of a problem is partially due to how you react to it.

Be authentic 

If she wants to wear bedazzled workout attire or join a rigorous OB/GYN program at Standford, then she will. Never without something to say or an opinion of her own, she is unabashedly herself in everything situation. Ultimately, being yourself is like a breath of fresh air-- real, important and something that everyone wants more of. And on that note...

The three Cs

This lesson comes in two parts, in theory from the real Mindy (Kaling) but in practice in Mindy's (Lahiri) personality. Combined the real and TV Mindys seem to have mastered the three Cs-- confidence, courage, and creativity. In life, you can't have one without the other, forming the perfect recipe for a life well-lived. It takes ample amount of courage to share your version of creativity with the world. The more you do it, the more certain of yourself and your abilities you become (aka you boost your confidence levels). After all...

"If you've got it, flaunt it. And if you don't got it, flaunt it. 'Cause what are we even doing here if we're not flaunting it?" 
~Mindy Kaling


Dress to impress...

yourself first, and then others. After all, you can never be overdressed or overeducated.

There's somebody for everybody...

but you may have to go through a lot of nobodies first.

Food = Happiness

And don't you ever forget it.

~Alexandra XO