5 things I learned from one year of blogging

To be frank, I can’t believe it has been a year already. I remember vividly as I was setting up my blog on WordPress and how ecstatic I have been about choosing the most appropriate theme, layout and writing my first blog post. I posted a very simple introduction, saying hello to the world in a computer programming manner. Oh boy, have I been overly tacky. For a year now I have been blogging about anything from lifestyle, sports, travel, tips and hints and of course beauty. I might not have achieved a tremendous online success with my blog, but I have learned multiple things that might help you achieve yours. So get comfortable, because that’s going to be a one long post.

Reasons for setting up your blog

Let me start with elaborating on one of the most important things you should consider before starting-up your blog. Why do you want to become a blogger or why are you one? Do you want to share your inner thoughts? Do you want to have a personal outlet for your creativity? Was it always your dream to become a writer, but you never had a chance to try? Do you think it will make you famous and get numerous PR packages? When I first started, I have been right in the middle of preparation for an important exam. I needed something to distract me from constant studying and I have decided blogging would be a perfect solution. I believe now that I set up this blog for a wrong reason entirely. This was one of the factors influencing my ‘on and off’ involvement with it.

It was too much of a flash in the pan straight from the beginning. Only recently have I been really involved in working on the blog and perfecting my blogging skills. Hence, before you dive into blogging make sure you know exactly why you want to blog. My reason now is very simple; I simply enjoy writing down my thoughts and interacting with readers and other bloggers.

Blogging is hard work

You’d think blogging is simply typing for several minutes and inserting fancy photographs of flowers and your MacBook with a cup of coffee. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Writing takes a lot of time, research, choosing appropriate layouts, checking spelling and how well your post goes through search engines. Taking photographs for the blog takes ages, I’m not even exaggerating, ages. To set a perfect scene, make sure it’s correctly lit, everything is in the right position takes time, that you might not necessarily have while starting your blogging adventure. Keeping up with comments and interacting with other bloggers is time consuming as well and requires a lot of effort.

1. Don’t take shortcuts

At the beginning of my blogging adventure I tried to figure out who I want to become online. The Internet gives us unlimited possibilities of evolving and becoming anything we want. I have to admit I have taken several shortcuts that I thought would make my blog more viewable and… from lack of a better word, popular? I wanted all the splendour all successful bloggers have and I did write several (quite literally seven tops) comments like: “great post, visit me here” and I still feel ashamed. Can’t even describe how much I hate this kind of attitude. I learned that while taking shortcuts like that I start disliking blogging, instead of loving it even more. So I vowed to never ever take shortcuts. If it takes years to gain loyal readers that love my content – so be it, I can wait.

2. You don’t need fancy equipment

Before I started blogging, I used to think you need a MacBook PRO, newest iPhone, Canon digital camera and a spotless, modern house filled with fancy decor. I thought that only having all of that I’d be able to run my blog the way I wanted. That I could succeed if and only if I presented my blog in the exact same way that successful bloggers do. Right now, after an entire year of blogging, I know, that what you need is a simple phone and a computer. That’s it and it doesn’t have to be an Apple product ūüėČ I have started my blog on an old Samsung laptop I purchased in 2013 and an HTC u11 phone and hey, I’m doing just fine!

WordPress congratulations message

3. Write from the bottom of your heart

Another common misconception I used to believe was that you have to write what your readers want to read. That the fact I’m getting most likes and views on travelling posts means I have to focus primarily on just that. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If I did that I don’t think I would’ve kept blogging. I would be discouraged and unhappy. I didn’t start my blog to keep writing about the same, small niche. Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s possible to find a niche anymore. And if it is, I’m not sure I want to find my own. I want to write about anything I feel like at that moment and not focus on what others feel I should. Don’t get lost in all the likes, followers and views and simply write about anything you want.

4. Don’t loose yourself in blogging

At times it’s difficult to keep up with work, studies, personal life and blogging. There were several instances I stayed up late just to schedule a post (and I’ve only published maybe 5% of the ones I’ve written) and I cancelled posting because I felt it wasn’t good enough. I have rewritten that particular post 43 times and it still didn’t get published. I learned that sometimes you have to ditch the perfectionism and published what you wrote even if it’s not perfect. Don’t loose yourself in an endless loop of improvement and simply open up. This thought process has helped me accept that my posts will never be perfect and publish more often. You can find the post I’m talking about here.

5. Caring too much about SEO

I have used Yoast SEO plug-in for several months now and I’ve been stressing about SEO ever since. For some reason getting two smiley faces on each of my posts has become an obsession of mine. Quite honestly, it’s become my nightmare. I have never put much effort into my blog being overly popular and searched on Google, but I decided to try it out and I’m greatly disappointed. Not in the plug-in itself, it works perfectly well and has improved my results, but it also got me into a vicious circle of constantly improving my posts so that they perform better in SEO. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how well your blog posts can be searched online if you end up hating blogging.

Blogging tips that I learned from successful bloggers

There is no reason I should re-write things other bloggers already covered, so instead I’m going to suggest reading the following posts by one of my favourite bloggers Carly the Prepster:

I think she gave an in-depth description of everything she learned during her decade long blogging journey. Also, she has a YouTube post about that as well and I suggest you watch it, if blogging tips is something you’re exceptionally interested in.

And what do you think most important tips are? What did you learn? What your hopes are?

 

 

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Mountain biking 101: the basics

How to start mountain biking?

If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know I got seriously hooked on mountain biking. It all started, as most of my stories, with my boyfriend, who used to bike very often when he was younger. I was not overly keen on trying, as you might imagine, as I come from an area so flat highest hill I had to ride my bike onto was probably the driveway to my garage. Also, it seemed exhausting and I’m not in the best of shapes. Riding up a hill, descending on a steep slope – well, that was not for me. Plus, I didn’t even have a bike. Nevertheless, a while ago, my boyfriend finally convinced me to go to Bieszczady Mountains for a biking trip.¬† If you follow my blog you probably already know how much I love this place, you can read about my adventures there here and here.

A picture of a bike on a grassland in the mountains.

I started my journey with a basic question; what do I need to start? I ended up missing a rather important piece of a puzzle; a bike. Choosing a perfect mountain bike is not easy, actually it’s so complex I left it altogether to my boyfriend, who did an amazing job of researching most optimal bike for me. You can check out my bike here.

Choosing a perfect mountain bike is not easy

My boyfriend is a very detail-oriented and thorough person. He started by a step-by-step interview with me of what exactly I wanted from my new bike.

Mountain bike types

Before we purchase a bike we have to answer a very important question where and how we want to use it. With current technological and cultural development of mountain biking we encounter numerous opition to pick from; recreation biking, stunt cross-country riding for faster riders, stunt-jumping riding and even downhill. For me, the decision was rather easy and without question I chose a bike dedicated for calm, recreational riding.

Price

Like with everything price is one of the main factors in picking a bike. Price span of mountain bikes vary from couple of hundered to thousands of Euro. If you want reliable bike that won’t break on the first trip my advice would be not to go for the cheapest option. For my budget (if you’re interested I can show you just how I gather all that cash in less than 3 months) I decided to spend 450 Euro.

The frame

One of the most important factors while picking a bike is definitely size of the frame. It is probably the only part of the bike you will not change in time, so it has to be perfectly adjusted to our size and weight. For recreational mountain biking frame is designed in a way, that enables calmer, more comfortable ride. Taking into account information written on the producers page I have chosen size M (I’m 168 cm), or 17” (producers sometimes use different sizing system).

A bad day on a mountain bike always beats a good day in the office

For a budget that I had choice of gears was not tremendous. It is always a good tip to purchase Shimano gears from the classified group, for example Tourney model. Another, for me probably the most important factor was how the bike looked. I loved it’s slim line (and no, Kross didn’t sponsor this post ;), colours and how dangerous it looks.

Where to purchase?

You can buy your bike at a stationary shop or online. For me it was important to purchase mine at a local Kross dealership. It was extremely convenient for me as the seller callibrated my bike before I went for my first trail. If you want to buy your bike on the Internet be careful: online shops sell bikes in parts for assembling! Also, before I purchased my bike I took a very detailed look at all the parts and since I found a single scratch on the front gear I got 5% discount for everything I purchased that day. Also, be aware of servicing your bike – mountain bikes require check-ups and it’s quite difficult to send your bike via post.

Start with the equipment

Mountain biking requires some preparation for better performance and general safety. My advice? Get the following equipment:

    • Helmet – a crucial tool for a safe journey. Make sure your helmet is correctly positioned and set – it should cover not only the top of your head, but also a part of the forehead,
    • ¬†Gloves – fingerless gloves for less friction. You definitely don’t want to get blisters!
    • ¬†Cycling shorts – don’t ever hop on a bike without the shorts! Purchase the ones that have a built-in pad that offers a long lasting seat comfort on the bike. Trust me, you’ll thank me ūüėČ
  • ¬†A backpack – for you to carry necessary equipments; a bottle of water, snacks, bike pump etc.

Rules to live by while riding a mountain bike

You’re all set now and have everything you need, except experience. The main thing I had to learn is simply not to be afraid of steep slopes. I was terrified I was going to break my neck, so a break was in use almost all the time. Going uphill suddenly seemed like a piece of cake. What I learned is that it’s vital to remember to use correct breaks – my advice? – improvise and with time rely on your instincts and experience. Generally, the more the bike is loaded, the stronger the breaks are. If you’re breaking while going downhill, be careful about using a front break – you might fly over the handlebars! For beginners I advice to try the breaks (with both hands) on a flat surface first and then descending on a small hill to gain experience.

Use appropriate gears!

There is a rule I learned during my trip to Bieszczady recently – if you’re going uphill and your front gear is set on low (first chainring) make sure to not set rear gear too low or too high. Optimally, back gear should be positioned on, more or less, 4, 5 or 6th sprocket for first chainring. The optimal rear gear position for position 2 of front gear is anything from 1-8. Optimal position of back gear for position 3 of front gear is 1, 2 and 3. I made a mistake of going uphill with lowest possible gears and my bike only squeaked in pain. Make sure to adjust your gears properly.

Remember, that number of sprockets and chainrings differ in each bike!

Choosing appropriate bike gears.

Trail etiquette

There are several rules you have to follow while embarking on a route;

    • The most important rule there is in the mountains in general is “leave no trace”.¬† Don’t ever leave garbage, don’t go where the path doesn’t lead you. Make sure not to destroy nature (by carving your name into a tree or picking flowers). Leave each place you go to like you’ve never been there, unless it requires cleaning,
    • ¬†be polite – say hi to everyone on the trail, offer assistance if you see someone who needs help, one day it might be you,
  • be careful while riding on the streets (your path might lead through several kilometers of regular road), ride along the curve, don’t stop abruptly, have lights on at all times. Mountain biking can be dangerous, so be cautious.

Riding a bike on streets

Don’t be afraid and enjoy yourself!

I was very much afraid of enjoying myself on a bike. Quite frankly, not only was I freaked out about steep slopes, I was also very aware of every single loose stone on the trail. Only when I gained some experience and got to know my bike and how it tics I finally started having fun. I advise you to take things slowly and simply allow your skills to lead you down the mountain bike path ūüėČ

Have you ever tried mountain biking? Let me know how it went! If you’re planning to start I hope my tips are going to make things much easier!

7 steps to a healthy diet

A healthy diet is something that we all strive for. For me a healthy diet is not about constantly limiting yourself. It’s about deciding to eat products that are beneficial for your well-being. You will never feel great after devouring a Big Mac. Each time I eat one I always regret I did. There is not one occassion where I was genuinely happy I ate something processed, oily or tasting artificial. On the other hand, there were numerous times I felt amazing after having a smoothie, vegetable soup or a homemade lunch.

A ball of fresh grapes

Personally, I struggle constantly with a healthy, well-balanced diet. I had problems with what I eat ever since I moved out of my home a decade ago. I lived alone in a huge city with all those possibilities within arm’s reach and gained an astonishing 20 kg (50 lbs). My problem was that we live in a world where food is very easily accessible. I move my finger over the screen of my phone and McDonald’s is delivered to my apartment in less than 30 minutes. I can online shop for food, order anything I want and there’s no one to judge me, as I’m all alone in my four walls.¬†

Food is obviously a great part of our life. We cannot live without it, nor would we ever want to. It became an anti-depressant, stress-reliever and¬† happiness inducers for many of us. Unfortunately, good quality of meals is directly related to how our bodies look and as well all want to be attractive our diet must improve.¬† Ever since January 2019 I have embarked on a weigh-loss journey and lost 7 kg [15 lbs] and going strong towards my goal. I’m not a specialist nor am I a trained professional, but I think my progress and how well I feel with all the changes can be of help for you.

Here are my 7 steps for a healthy diet that I had successfully implemented into my own life.

A sliced, healthy avocado

1. Eat outmeal or muesli for breakfest

Ever since the beginning of the year I made sure to incorporate low-sugar muesli or oatmeal into my diet. I usually purchase a bag of muesli and eat it with natural yoghurt. During week days I prepare it at work (it takes around 10 minutes for muesli to soak in the yoghurt and not taste like sawdust. At first I struggled with the flavour – it’s not a delicious piece of cake and it’s hard to get used to… very delicate taste. After eating enhanced food for years, it’s quite demanding to switch to a natural one. Fortunately, just after a couple of weeks I noticed a visible improvement in taste (or maybe I simply got used to it, I can’t be sure). I ate muesli so often now I crave it. This morning I had an avocado toast and felt like oatmeal is so much better. It is important not to immediately give up. I understand it won’t be pleasant at first, but when you give it a try it will get better in time. I promise, you will thank me later.

2. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate

You probably hear that a lot, don’t you? But have you ever followed that advice? Do you actually drink at least 2 litres of water per day? For the last several months I do, but it took me a significant amount of time to get accustomed to. I started with a very easy task: I had a glass of lemon water each morning, just after waking up. I hated how the water tasted and had to add flavour by adding either lemon or cucumbers. Then, after several weeks, I added another big glass of water to lunch. At first I felt as though I drink too much, but the more water I consumed, the better I felt. Another week passed and I drank 8 glasses of water a day (or 4 bottles). When I reached my goal, I felt amazing! I had so much energy and spark. For a person that never drank lots of water I started craving it. Quite frankly felt unwell when I didn’t get enough. Even now, typing and figuring out which pictures would be most suitable this particular post, I already had two big glasses of sparkling water.

Convince yourself that the more you drink the better you’re going to feel. Also, drinking water boosts metabolism and helps you along the weight-loss journey.¬†

3. Switch to home cooking

Won tons.

Treat it as an adventure. Developing a daily cooking habit is quite difficult, but it will have so many positive effects you will never regret it. First of all,¬† food you get at the restaurant is never healthy. It is loaded with preservatives and flavour enhancers. I know it’s much easier to get a yummy hot wing, but your body is not going to be impressed by you devouring so much fat. Second of all, it’s pricy. Obviously, lunch at this new bistro you noticed down the street is at least twice more expensive than lunch you could prepare at home. Also, pre-prepared meals are a trap of enhancers, debatable ingredients and lost cash.¬†

If you’re motivated, but don’t know how to start, think about what’s stopping you. I discovered that most of the time I didn’t want to cook because I simply didn’t know what to make. I found a website with delicious and healthy recipes and have been following ever since. Even tonight, when I’m sick and trying to calmly die in my bed flooded by running nose, I am going to get up and prepare chicken, rice and vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch at work.¬†

Sometimes I gave up cooking because I felt like it takes way too much time. 

The same site with recipes helped me by offering short and simple instructions for cooking great, healthy meals. If I was too lazy to go shopping I looked at my bank account and convinced myself, that spending 50 PLN [12 euro or 15$] per lunch is not going to help me save money. I also visualized myself looking bomb and it’s been a great help as well. If you’re interested about my meal-planning routine or my love for slowfood check this post¬†here.¬†

4. Make several smart swaps

It’s difficult to eliminate unhealthy food from your diet entirely, but you can definitely make several swaps that will improve your health. I have started with not adding sugar to tea. Instead, I drink them plain or with honey. I eat only full-grain bread as it’s easier to get full with smaller slices.¬† Look at my list and think of more products which can be easily swapped:

  • never buy flavoured yoghurt. It’s so much tastier to eat a natural one with pieces of fresh fruit.¬†
  • don’t spend cash on pre-produced products, rather buy fresh ones and cook them yourself,
  • skip the mayo and change it for a greek yoghurt,
  • always order the smaller size of portions, chances are you’ll get full with the food you get. If not you can always order more, if yes – you get additional cash!
A piece of cake and coffee

5. Eat sweets in moderation

I have a full understanding that living sugar-free is a difficult existence. But boy, have I tried! I have struggled with weight for my entire life and a sweet tooth I have has been rather detrimental for my “slim” figure. With years passing I have accepted that there is no way I will ever be able to eliminate sweets from my diet. I accepted that a long time ago and so instead of forcing myself to ditch sweets forever I’m simply eating in moderation. I can have a piece of cake at my niece’s birthday party, I can eat dessert on holidays or even eat a candy bar during a cheat day, but I won’t eat more than I really want. Sometimes one little candy can be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.¬†¬†

The problem is that more often than not we don't focus on our needs and keep eating more chocolate because we didn't notice we've had enough

I try to focus more on food and be present and mindfull of what I put in my mouth. Each time I take a bite of something sweet I’m wondering if I want more of it? Was it enough? How did it make me feel? Do I really want more sugar? In most of the cases I don’t and I simply stop eating. Try this exercise at home as it really helps to eat sweets in moderation. Also, as I am used to eating whatever I want (and thus I’m on a weight-loss journey) the cognitive dissonance of not wanting more sweets is quite mindblowing.

6. Believe in 80/20 ratio

80/20 ratio is a simple rule¬† of eating food that is in 80% good for you and in 20% less healthy. I use this canon for everything in life as I believe balance is necessary for happiness. My regular week consists of 6 days when I eat healthy and a cheat day when I can eat everything I want. I plan cheat days in advance: this week it’s going to be Sunday. There is no limit of what and how much I can eat during a cheat day, but if you keep strong on remaining days you’re not going to eat much more for a splurge day. Also, the healthier you eat the less harmful food you’re going to crave. Right now I have spread myself a little too thin and got lost in sweets and fats. I have simply lost track of my healthy habits and have been struggling to go back, but I still kept the ratio of 80%/20%, hence I didn’t gain any weight.¬†¬†

7. Keep away from alcoholic beverages

In general alcohol is a terrible idea. When I was younger, I used to party all the time. I could return home at 5 am, get a couple hours of sleep and go straight to work/classes. Then repeat the whole process and never feel bad or too tired. Right now as I’m 28, I can feel the difference. I never stay up later than 1 am as my eyes are already shutting down anyway. I also can’t drink too much alcohol as my stomach protests in the worst of ways. And the thought of the headache, exhaustion and all the other symptoms of hangover is just damming.¬†

It is not a secret that alcohol is not good for health. 

Quite frankly, it not only causes you to eat more (and less healthy) but it is also dehydrating and damages your natural immune system. I don’t have any tip for you as to how to stop drinking alcohol in general. I’m terrible at it. Seldomly, I love a glass of wine with a fancy dinner, or a pint of beer with friends on Friday nights. Because of my 80/20 rule I indulge in an occasional drink only once a week (it has to be a cheat day) and I’ve noticed positive changes in my skin and general well-being.

Start your healthy lifestyle right now

I hope my tips will help you get on track with a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions or tips for me, please write them in the comment or contact me through e-mail. Thank you very much for reading my post and visiting Journal of Dorota.

Within your own self is a treasury… an ocean of pure bliss, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, love, happiness, energy and peace… within every human being.

Zalando wishlist – no polyester challenge

Zalando has become my favorite hunting grounds recently, with convenient 100 days return policy and great prices. I have browsed for hours through tens of sweaters, cute, spring dresses and elegant shoes to find my own, personal style. I have decided to completely revamp my wardrobe several months ago, but I was a little hesitant to purchase anything as I am currently on a weightloss journey. Didn’t see a point in buying all the beautiful clothes I picked if my size was to change very soon. I have lost 7 kg (15 lbs) since the beginning of January, which accounted to going one size smaller.¬†

Nevertheless, as I look rather dreadful in my old clothes and have some savings, at the end of a day there is really no harm in embarking on an occasional shopping spree. Is there? There was only one thing I decided to do differently this time. I took an oath to live a more conscious life since the beginning of this year and thus all clothing items I purchase must be environmentally friendly. The wishlist I have compiled below has been specifically verified to be made of only biodegradable materials. 

Jeans

Wrangler HIGH RISE skinny fit jeans

  • Material: 51% cotton, 40% lyocell, 9% elastane.
Lyocell is a celulose fibre, which according to this¬†source¬†is made by “dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning”. These fabrics are “more breathable and less succeptible to odorous bacteria growth”, so are perfect for gym wear and… aparently jeans as well.¬†
 
  • ¬†Price 349,00 PLN [82,00 Euro or 92,00 USD]
Blue wrangler jeans

These might seem like very plain, a little bit boring jeans but I do think these would make a great base for other, more colorful and statement pieces. I had a huge problem finding jeans which did not contain polyester. Actually, it took me around a quarter of an hour to find these, that were esthetically pleasing and also of good quality. While ordering through Zalando you always have a chance to inspect if the item you’re purchasing contains non-biodegradable materials.¬†

Top

Diane von Furstenberg Lizzie Top in goldenrod shade

  • Material: 100% silk
Silk is a greatly renewable resource with one of the smallest impacts on the environment. It does not require use of persicides or fertilizers to grow as it is created by silk warms feeding on mulberry leaves. Most of the silk in the world comes from India and China. There are several concerns related to killing warms for silk.
 
  • ¬†Price 1119,00 PLN [262,00 Euro or 296 USD]
Silk, yellow top with a yellow ribbon from Zalando

This top absolutely stole my heart. I don’t understand why, but each time I really like an item it turns out to cost an arm and a leg. Do you feel the same way? Almost everything I picked during my wishlist clothes-hunt was so expensive I felt guilty even looking at it. This top is definitely to die for and I wish one day I’ll be able to afford it (and fit into it!)

Biker Jacket

Oakwood Video Biker Jacket

  • Material: 100% leather
  • ¬†Lining: 90% cotton, 10% polyester
¬†Leather is one of the most impactful materials in terms of the environment. At least that’s what I’ve heard recently. What the studies don’t show is that leather usually ends up being used for longer periods of time. I hope to learn more about the impact of leather production on the environment.
 
  • ¬†Price 779,00 PLN [186,00 Euro or 211,00 USD]
Brown leather biker jacket

This biker jacket is lovely. I have purposely not chosen a black one as it is too classical for me. I have been thinking about purchasing such jacket for a long time. Several years ago I had one, but it was made of literally plastic (polyester) and I felt like boiling in it during summer and freezing to death during winter. 

Accossories

Marc O’Polo crimson-dark red shoulder bag

  • Material: leather
 What bugs me here is that even though I love the bag I have mixed feelings towards the producers for not giving specific materials. I would rather have a clear view of what the bag is made of to make a conscious decision if I in fact want it or not.
 
  • ¬†Price 839,00 PLN [196,00 Euro or 222,00 USD]

Shoes

Nike Air max 1 – Sneakers

  • Material: leather and material
Again, like in case of the bag above, there is no detailed description of what the shoes are made of. 
 
  • ¬†Price 569,00 PLN [133,00 Euro or 150,00 USD]
Nike Airmax shoes from Zalando.

I will always claim that Nike Air Max’s are the most comfortable shoes in the world. I have several pairs of these, blue, white, black, blue with pink Nike sign and so on. I love these shoes and if you ever have a problem with any sneakers hurting your feet – these shoes are for you as well. I think these shoes can be worn with everything really. They fit casual as well as a little bit more formal outfits and except several very elegant occasions I would never change these for any other shoes.¬†

Conclusion

All the items above are absolutely stunning and I would purchase each and every on of them on the spot. My issue is that I have a tendency to pick things that do not form a specific outfit, but rather can be pieces of several ones. This is fine at first, but after a while I always realize how my clothes never fit with each other and what a big issue it is. I end up only wearing a shirt with jeans and any shoes I have, because no accessories ever fit my outfits. 

For now all these items are going to stay on my wishlist until I find matching pieces which will together form an entire, cohesive outfit.

And what is on your Zalando wishlist? Let me know in the comments!

Erasmus – moving abroad – finances

Erasmus Programme is a tremendous opportunity for all students to experience an amazing adventure. A couple of years ago I also enrolled and travelled all the way to Leiria, Portugal. You can read about my personal escapade here. Ever since I wrote my memoir though, I felt like I didn’t convey even 1% of information I intended to. Only when I returned to the post I realized, how weirdly written it was and how much more advice I could put into words. While considering all the difficulties I faced at the beginning, I decided to start my “Erasmus series” with finances, grants and how to get by without excessive saving.

The grant – be careful about the dates!

While applying for an Erasmus one has to fill in various documents and questionnaires, including grant application. When I went to Portugal I was to receive 400 Euro a month for the entire period of my exchange. Grant was supposed to be transferred to my account in two tranches. One two weeks after leaving from Poland, and the second one after four months. What I didn’t know, was that in order to receive the second tranche I had to send various protocols to my home school. It would’ve been fine hadn’t it been such a great problem for my Erasmus Coordinator.

Be careful about Erasmus Coordinators

In case you didn’t know, the Erasmus Coordinator is a person who is supposed to help you during the exchange. Since you’re transferring from one University to the other there are usually two Coordinators. Coordinator’s main purpose is to ensure your transcript of records is transferred without delay. They should take strong interest in getting your grant on time and that you don’t die, wherever you’re going.

For the purpose of this blog post let me name my Polish Coordinator as the Cool Lady, and my Portuguese one as the Lazy Lady. Continuing, my Erasmus Coordinator (the Lazy One) didn’t bother to send a protocol to the Cool one, so I didn’t get the second tranche for months. Literally, months. I was so desperate for money my sister had to aid me for weeks!

The Lazy Coordinator had no apologies for loosing my transcript, nor did she ever say anything other than: “I’ll send it next week”. For a couple of months I was so stressed I found a job cleaning offices just so I didn’t starve (mind you, couldn’t afford flight tickets and didn’t want to return back to Poland).

My advice is: the moment you get to your destination, make sure your Coordinator knows exactly what documents you have to send back home. Otherwise, your entire trip might get a little bit too stressful.

How much money should you take?

That is a vital issue. I was not prepared for what happened. Even if I moved out of my parents house when I was 15 and usually got well with money, this time I went completely unprepared. I took additional money (a lot more than I usually spend), included price difference, currency change and all the little details. What I didn’t include, was the fact I literally had to buy everything.

Accommodation issues

The apartment I was supposed to rent was stripped of everything, including light bulbs. Before my landlord helped me I had to purchase flusher, kitchen accessories and so forth. I wasn’t prepared, as I rented my flat from abroad and my application included all those things. At the end of the day, Portuguese Landlord ignored our contract and simply didn’t deliver. Because I didn’t have much money, I couldn’t take him to court. Luckily, I was partly prepared, as I had some “just in case” savings.

To sum up, you should always consider that there might be issues you didn’t foresee and only go for an Erasmus program with savings. For the beginning, at least 500 Euro of back-up cash is sufficient.

Earning money on Erasmus

And I’m not talking about the Eramsus Plus+ Program which is based solely on working abroad. During my Erasmus I used to perform various jobs just to get more money for travelling. I translated articles and technical sheets for my previous employer from Poland. For a while I drew in AutoCad for other students and got paid in lunches. I even worked for a friend ripping wallpaper off from furniture exhibition. I had friends who worked in bars and restaurants. There are various ways in which you can get extra cash, which is always very useful. Even blogging or vlogging, can give you profit you might just need to get by.

Saving money on Erasmus

Saving money on Erasmus and not missing on anything is quite difficult. Possible, but difficult. What is important is to never loose yourself info excessive frugality and experience your trip to the fullest. I’d advise to eat lunch at Uni cafeterias and purchase Erasmus discount cards, which are of great help.

Cash or credit card?

That is one of most frequently asked questions I encountered while searching for information on Erasmus. I had a friend who got robbed in Granada, Spain on the second week of her trip and was left without any cash nor a credit card. Her family had to send her money through Western Union, but before she could claim it, her mother had to send her a passport via Fedex. Also, she had to travel all the way to Polish embassy, just so she could get her ID back.

Nevertheless, I still think a card is more reliable than cash. You can always ask for more money to be sent to your account, in case of emergency. It’s also rather easy to retrieve your card if it’s lost or stolen. Also, keeping a lot of cash in the place you don’t really know is risky. Reminds me of Coyote Ugly and the scene when a thief stole main character’s money from her freezer.

Is new bank account necessary?

That’s what I’ve been thinking at the beginning. I should just open a bank account in a Portuguese Bank and don’t worry about anything. Firstly, it’s not that easy. Secondly, everyone I knew from Erasmus had problems while closing their accounts. European Union laws allow no exchange fees while exchanging money through Bank Accounts. Due to that I think there’s no reason anymore to open bank accounts in foreign countries.

Zadar's Monument to the Sun on Erasmus

In case you need more information or are generally wondering about an Erasmus Program, check out this link or send me a private message!

The importance of travelling

As the proverb says: travel is to live. Since I started travelling often I realised how true this motto is. I tend to measure my time from one trip to the other, so when my day at work is particularly hard I’m motivating myself with simply stating when I’m going to visit some great place. Right now I’m counting days until my next adventure: I’m going for a weekend to Brussels, Belgium with a couple of friends and that is exactly what makes me endure some tough moments.

The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.

So why is it that sometimes we forget travel makes us happy and instead we rot at home? Mostly it’s the amount of chores we impose on each other, deadlines, sometimes feeling overwhelmed with social issues and workload. I know that when I become corporate robot I forget about anything really and simply sink in all the chores. If you’re in the same place right now where you walk and walk but you’re always in the same spot and feel zero motivation to move and drive anywhere really, here are several reasons why you should keep going and never give up on travelling.

1. Travelling broadens horizons and makes you a better person

It sounds strong, doesn’t it? Like getting into a car and driving to a nearby city for a sightseeing tour would make you truly a better person. And yet… It’s true, or at least I believe so. Going on an excursion always broadens your horizons. Even if it’s very short, to a place you’ve already been to, it’s still going to teach you something. It’s going to build up your experience and simply make you wiser. Example? Visiting another nation and learn about their culture.

Bonus anecdote: When I moved to Portugal (for my Erasmus) I was pretty much disgusted with all the people simply snapping their fingers to call a waiter at a restaurant. I thought it’s so rude! And yet… it’s normal there, so I learned that when I’m in Warsaw, I don’t have to get all airtight and silently rant and rave on their bad manners, but rather understand they might come from a completely different place than I do.

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A photograph of Prague, Czech Republic 2018

2. You can learn another language and improve your CV (resume)

Learning languages is vital. I don’t think I can stress enough how amazing it is to be able to communicate in a foreign language wherever you go. Right now, I’m using skills I learned years ago and can (hopefully) successfully communicate with you, my dear Reader in English. Before I moved to Portugal I used to learn the language from books and some additional classes, but only when I moved my knowledge of Portuguese sky-rocketed. Knowing languages can improve your position in applying for a job or even grant you get one!

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Nazare Beach in Portugal, 2014

3. Travelling makes you stay younger

Ok, I might not have any scientifical proof that it’s true, but I do believe travel makes you more active and therefore younger. Constant planning and plotting stimulates the brain and sightseeing is a great way to reach your 10000 steps needed for a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, when you spend so much money on plane tickets and hotels you just can’t afford food anymore… Just kidding, although it might be true in some cases. For New Years Eve this year I travelled to a city of Torun in Poland. Just for one day, a very short trip. And during this day I visited so many places, I walked more than 20 km in less than 10 hours!

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Barcelona, Spain, 2014

4. You can make friends from across the globe and cement relationships you already have

Meeting people from around the world not only broadens the horizon (see point 1), but also creates connections which not only let you have so much fun, but also allow you to travel further and cheaper. I keep in touch with many of my friends from Erasmus and we’ve exchanged many trips (I travelled to their hometown, they visited mine) for a fraction of a normal price. But what’s most important? The memories, because as you know, people forget years and remember moments. All these precious moments laughing at similarities and differences between our cultures (sometimes very distant, hello, my Brazilian friends!), teaching each other various things or simply hanging around could never be the same if I only had friends from my own country.

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Porto, Portugal, 2014

5. Travel lets you experience amazing cuisines

Oh, the food… how I love it. One of the best virtues of travelling is trying out different cuisines, flavours and products. My long time dream is to visit Italy, Parma, to be exact, and try all the amazing dishes there, including pizza with potatoes and different flavours of pasta. When I visited Croatia last year I fell in love with white wine (Grasevina), sea food, eating freshly caught tuna grilled at the beach, watermelon at noon under an umbrella, and so forth. Celebration of food teaches us love of life. I also learned several tricks of Croatian and Portuguese cuisine and definitely improved my cooking skills.

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A great steak in Lisbon, Portugal

So let’s go on an adventure!

So, don’t dwell on tough times, take a look at some sites with cheap flights, bus or train tickets or even, for a free trip, pack your bag and venture to a place you’ve never visited in your city. Learn new things and don’t let work and chores overwhelm you. Travelling really is a sollution for sadness!

Do you travel often? If yes, did you learn anything interesting during your trips?

Let me know in the comments.

New years resolutions

As January approaches it is the last moment to let the old year pass and take a look forward to the new one. And what would January be without casual new years resolutions? All these goals we are never going to achieve, but we think about for at least a week until we find ourselves on a coach with a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine, even though we solemnly swore never to touch any of it again?

This year I approached my resolutions a little differently than in the past. I have established five main goals for me to achieve and then described them all down in something I’d like to call my “bullet journal” when it’s actually a notebook with words scribbled in a way imitating calligraphy. Or trying to imitate. imitating trying to imitate. It’s really bad, honestly. I hope this list is going to help you establish your new goals/resolutions and maybe this time we are able to achieve them.

  1. Explore new hobbies and develop old ones

This is by far the most important goal of mine. I really would like to pursue new interests, especially sport related; like systematically attend Zumba classes (which are awesome), or start taking longer walks after work. I have learned (with all the previous resolutions) that unless my goal is tangible, can be verified easily and assessed “binarily” (either 0 or 1), I will never achieve it. So for this point my goal is to attend Zumba class every single week of 2019. ¬†If you aren’t into dance classes you can always pick any other one; like pilates, yoga, swimming, jogging, whatever really, that you actually like. If you don’t have a heart for it, there is no way that you will stick to your resolution.

In terms of developing old hobbies I really would like to work on my blog and Instagram account more. I have great plans for both of these platforms, so if you have any tips I’ll be happy to hear it.

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2. Do one thing at a time.

I know, I know, you are not a real woman unless you’re juggling work, home, 10 children + 5 adopted ones, neighbours’ house, volunteering work and oh, yeah, training for climbing K2. Obviously, everybody want us to think it’s better if we work harder, more efficient and faster. I thought that it’s going to make me excel at work as well, but only when I relaxed and let myself do one thing at time I’ve noticed positive results – not only in my well-being, but also in how my boss perceived me – I got a raise and a bonus, so hey me! For the upcoming year I would really like to keep going, master my self-assertion, work on the way I think and simply slow down. I really love, as mentioned here, slow living movement. Savouring each moment of our lives with amazing food, great places, trips and mind-fullness.¬†I’m listening to a YouTube video right now while typing, so this rule obviously doesn’t apply to background music na videos.

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So what about quantifiability of this one? Simple, for the upcoming year I’m going to assess how much time I need to perform tasks and keep myself only working (by doing one thing at a time) during this period. For example, if I go to work, I’m going to work for eight hours only. If I work on my blog I’m going to spend exactly the time needed without interruptions (like checking Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

3. Spend less time glued to the phone.

I conducted an experiment several weeks ago when I didn’t use my phone at all (not even calling, just put it in the drawer and forget it exists) after work. This time, I think I endured around 5 days, was eye-opening. Not only did I suddenly have time for everything, I also realised how much time I spend on the Internet. I quit using the phone, left my blog, Instagram account, Twitter (which I have yet to explore) and stopped checking out Facebook. I didn’t manage to stay away from the phone completely after those 5 days, but I think it was a good start. Now, my goal for 2019 is simply to limit my phone usage to absolute minimum – that is Instagram (which is a mean of helping my blog develop), Twitter and occasional e-mail check. No more YouTube beauty drama videos, no more weight loss successes, Little Mix Acapella nor Crazy Roommate stories for hours in my bed eating chips.

As with all the other goals, I’d like to specify this resolution to a point that’ll allow me to assess progress and verify if I really achieved what I hoped for. Therefore, phone usage of 1 hour a day is allowed. This will enable me to work on the blog and Instagram without wasting time on things I don’t really need to.

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4. Keep clutter out of the house.

I was generally inspired by a great YouTuber and blogger Miss Amy Rach, who I really love binge watching while cleaning my house. I noticed recently both my boyfriend Floret and I have been gathering things and not getting rid of any obsolete ones, so expect a lot of decluttering posts here.  I planned my decluttering process in steps, as described here:

  • step 1 – Declutter living room (get rid of boxes, old candles, useless papers, sell books),
  • step 2 – Declutter kitchen (get rid of broken things, check all the jars and labels for expiration date and/or content),
  • step 3 – Declutter bathroom (throw out all the expired products, things I don’t use anymore, product I hate),
  • step 4 – Declutter wardrobe (get rid of things which weren’t worn in ages).

I plan to spend a quarter of the year for each step, so that it doesn’t seem like a burden, but rather a goal to achieve drop weight off my shoulders.

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5. Morning and evening beauty routines

For obvious reasons. I am not getting any younger. I can see thin lines around my eyes which surely weren’t there several months ago and it haunts me how quick time flies. To stop the aging process, I have decided to incorporate morning and evening beauty routines. Before Christmas I found several great deals and bought various cosmetics, including both of the Bioderma creams below.

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The pink one is Bioderma Sensibio Eyes and the blue one is Bioderma Hydrabio Perfecteur with SPF 30 filter.

I know I’ve said here¬†that one of my beauty essentials is All about eyes rich by Clinique, but I was already sick and tired of all these products I’ve been using for years and needed a change.¬†They came with the cute white toiletry bag made of material imitating leather reflecting various shades (unfortunately it can’t be seen in the picture above). I think it’s super cute, I really like simple things and the fact you can’t really see Bioderma logo is an added bonus. I know it is supposed to be a blog post about new years resolutions, but I have been using both of these creams for the last couple of weeks and I can really see a difference. Both give my skin a very delicate, velvety-like feeling as well as a little bit of glow (in a good way). If you have a similar skin to mine I think both are worth trying out!

For the evening routine I have yet to find appropriate night cream, so for now I’m using the ones I have – maybe you have any suggestions for rather dry skin?

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I can’t stress it enough but goals have to be specific. It’s not enough to decide not to eat junk, because there is no tangible way to evaluate progress, and therefore it is easier to be less inclined to stick with the resolution. Even though I decided to declutter my entire house I’m not planning to do it in one single day, because the thought of me decluttering for 24 hours straight is repellant. But if I say, ok, I have these four places that I have to take care of and I have an entire year to do so, it sounds much better in my head, so it is acceptable. Same with hobbies and phone usage, you can’t simply say ok, I’m not using my phone anymore ever, because that’s unrealistic (especially if you’re a blogger like me), nor that you’re going to start diving if you can’t swim.

To conclude this rather prolonged post let me just add, that my biggest hope for the upcoming year is to keep up with blogging at least once a week. I have various ideas for blog posts (I stacked 40 drafts already) and I really take a lot of pleasure from writing, taking pictures and following all of you guys.

So let this year be amazing for all of us.

Happy new year everybody!

How to plan your holiday trip?

For a couple of days now I have been planning my holidays and while writing down the packing list I realized, that being so busy with travelling to my grandma’s house, being a perfect “housewife” and preserving pickles and zucchini I got from my aunt’s garden, I didn’t have any time to write a new blog post. Feeling a little bit guilty (as you do when you totally ignore something) I decided to finally get to work and prepare a post.

It would’ve been great if I had an idea what to write about, though. I don’t know if other bloggers feel the same way, but sometimes I can write an entire 10 page essay on the most mundane topic and other times I am just blocked, even if I had a great idea. But then, right in that moment, while writing the word “charger”, I got enlightened – I’m sure by now you now where this is going – so yes, another “how to” blog post, but hey! It’s an up to date topic for all of us happy campers!

1. Make a list of things to pack.

I know you might think everybody knows that already, but frankly speaking I met various people who don’t plan what to take for a trip at all. To be frank, I once went canoeing with some of my friends and one of them totally forgot to take a swimming suit and water shoes. I was surprised and asked how that happened, and she simply said she packed as she normally does, not for this particular trip. Since then, after a very lengthy trip to a shopping mall to purchase the swimming suit, she is that much wiser.

Make sure you prepare the list at least a week in advance. That way, for the days leading to the departure date you will have a chance to round out your list if you recall any item necessary. Also, it will allow you to purchase things you don’t have yet – in my case, I wrote sandals, hat, shorts and water shoes, since mine from last year weren’t too good and they let little stones get into the shoe and annoy the living hell out of me.

Bonus tip: make sure to pack all of the medicine you will need (especially prescription pills).

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2. Buy ticket in advance.

And I do mean all of the tickets. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about saving money¬†¬†I am not very keen on spending cash right now, as I’ve been trying to save up some. I have already booked my plan tickets and if I knew earlier when am I going to go for holidays I’d book them even several months ago. I also will now book train tickets, bus tickets and make all the other reservations which will allow me to save some and use special offers.

For these holidays I am going to stay in my boyfriend’s friend’s house and therefore I don’t have to book any accommodation, but if you don’t have that luxury I advise you to use booking.com to book in advance and use their discounts. Also, make sure you look for the best offer possible – many of the reservations can be cancelled and exchanged if you find a better last-minute offer. I’ve never done it as I feel people prepare their rooms for you and cancelling last minute is quite mean, but you can still do it and save some.

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3. Buy the currency in advance.

Generally speaking the smaller city you exchange money in – the better. Also, you can book currency in an online exchange office and make sure the difference in rate doesn’t eat a big portion of your money. What is crucial is to never exchange on an airport, near borders or in shopping malls.

This year I’m going to visit Croatia and the currency there is kuna, which is roughly 0,14 Euro. Knowing the rate I can evaluate how much money I need to exchange before leaving. I make sure to have some back-up cash just in case I exceed the limit I imposed on myself and I advise you to do the same. You can never know what happens and it’s always better to be prepared and not stress-out.

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4. Prepare for the trip itself.

Being fashionable is hard, but being fancy on a 6 hours flight is close to impossible. The rule to always dress the part in any situation is valid here as well. In case of flying for holidays, you definitely should wear comfortable, easy to remove shoes (at security check and aboard), have some sweater to put on (it can get a little chilly), and wear jeans which are not too tight (which will not cramp you).

If you’re going by car, pack water, snacks and make sure your luggage fits in the trunk. There is nothing worse than travelling like a crazy gipsy family on crack.

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5. Buy travel guides.

As I mentioned here¬†having a travel guide is vital to sightseeing the site to the full extent. Make sure you buy guides that are worth the price – read opinions first and purchase the one with the highest note. Also, make sure to buy guides detailing the specific site you’re visiting – for example: not Portugal, but rather Lisbon or Algarve.

I am a very detailed traveller – I like to know all the pieces of information about things I’m going to see. For example, if you’re looking at a very old, beautiful church in Budapest only if you’re going to read a part of its history and get to know its name you’re gonna know and remember what it is, otherwise it will be just another church.

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6. Look for things to sightsee beforehand

Making a plan (not very detailed) of what you’re going to do during your holidays is vital. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, for me it is crucial to incorporate all types of leisure activities in your trip, so that you don’t end up simply laying flat on the beach baking your butt. It is vital to remember to plan some sport, some relax and some entertainment time in equal parts. That way you will not get tired of any of them and will be well-rested when you come back.

Right now I am browsing through various blogs to find things to do/see in the part of Croatia I’m travelling to. So if you, by any change, know beautiful places to see in Croatia near a city of Zadar, please let me know in the comments.

7. Return a day earlier

Even God rested for one day – at least that’s what the Bible says. Holidays and all the travelling can be tiresome, so make sure to return a day before and have an additional day for simply relaxing at home and sorting all the things out before returning to work.

 

And how about you? Do you have any tips for planning holidays?

Dorota

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

Slow movement has been around for over a decade and ever since 2015 I’ve been trying to join in. Fascinated with discovering new ways in which I can simply relax and decrease the tempo of my life I have searched for many clues and tips on how to implement several aspects of Slow Life into my own existence.

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Starting from an explanation as to why I think it’s something worth looking up, let me quickly mention that in 2015 I moved to Olsztyn (a beautiful city in a Warmian district of Poland) where I worked on a construction site. I didn’t know anyone in that particular city, nor at the company I worked for, and having no WI-FI connection I drifted towards spending my entire time with work colleagues in the office. I can’t express how much I regret it, especially since I know now how it turned out at the end, but what I learned is that living with such a great rate can be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. At some point I was so tired of constantly working (also partying) and being surrounded by people and chores that I got a terrible case of irritated stomach which led me to eat only boiled vegetables for a week. I was exhausted and lost and the thing that helped me the most were long walks along lakes and through forests.

In that same period I received a book about eliminating all chemical components from food and living a more healthy lifestyle. I didn’t implement many of the tips into my own life, but it was a factor that influenced my interest in Slow Movement in general. The author of the book was very much in love with the concept and she advised all the readers to tag along. I looked up all the information I needed and learned about FOMO (Fear of missing out) and other concepts related to how fast the world revolves around us and how much information we are flooded with each day.

For a time I have stopped trying to implement Slow Life and I focused on my career, education and other aspects, which at that time seemed more important. Then, when I least expected it, I reached a rather dark period of my life. I remember it was December 22nd of last year and it was already 5 PM. I was at work, last day before Christmas holidays, and the remaining task of the day was to simply get some papers signed, but that particular day it honestly seemed like the entire world is against me. I finished so late I didn’t have enough strength to go to my mom and help her with all the “cooking”.

When I got home I was so frustrated I decided to never let myself work longer than I absolutely must, try harder than anyone else and do things that are not within my scope of responsibility. During that moment I learned instantly how to say no to my coworkers and how to stay focused on what I am paid for and not constantly performing tasks for other people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t help anyone, of course, it means that I spend my work hours doing the actual work I am paid to do. I got back after the holidays and started leaving work at 3 or 4 PM. My friends looked at me with disapproval at first, but with time they gladly joined. Also, ironically, I got praised way more often by my supervisors – I was well-rested, driven and motivated to perform MY TASKS the best I could. That’s when I truly believed the concept of living slowly is beneficial to all.

Now when you already went through all this rather long preface let me get to the point.

During my introspective work I established 5 main points on how to join the Slow Life Movement.

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One of my favourite ways to relax. Playing a boardgame with Floret outside in the warm, summer weather.

5 ways to follow a Slow Living Movement

1. Respect your time.

I really can’t stress that too strongly. If you are not paid for working overtime… don’t. If you feel uncomfortable with someone and often feel left out by your friends – just don’t spend time with these people. If you constantly feel stressed¬† at work you should think of changing it or adjusting your attitude (about it later on in point 5).

Like I said above, I had a great problem with establishing boundaries in my life in terms of work. I thought that the more I tried the better people will perceive me and treat me like a better employee. I was wrong. I busted my ass off and after that unforgetful December afternoon I’d been working 50% of what I usually did and I am praised even more often. I am well rested, have more energy and motivation to finish tasks I am assigned to do – not some additional chores I impose on myself because I feel like they are required of me.

Sometimes when I read all those “tips and hints” written by corporate rats on how to be a perfect employee and I see words like driven, ambitious, confident, going extra mile, I feel like smashing my laptop on the floor (and it’s the laptop from my work, so that would cost me). Like seriously, you either do your job or not, if you go an extra mile for anything that is not for yourself you’re going to lose. People will see how much you’re trying and will use you for it. I know it sounds bitter, but it is true. Going an extra mile to improve YOURSELF – that is something that will make you stand out.

Let me give you an example (and prove I’m not just a corporation hater). I’ve been working in a designing office (for electrical installation, nothing concerning fashion – I know, a pity) and I used to stay many hours overtime to help my friend with his tasks. I wasn’t paid to do it, but I felt really sorry for him for being so overloaded with tasks. Up until I heard that he was lying around doing nothing while I have essentially done all his work. Well… at least he was honest that I was doing it well. I went an extra mile, but not for improving myself, but rather because I felt like I needed to be helpful.

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I spent a couple of minutes simply sitting here hugging with Floret. Solina lake is beautiful at this time of year. When the weather gets better we hope to rent a boat and check various islands on the lake.

2. Find time to relax.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be an entire week of frying your butt on a beach in Ibiza. You can start by simply spending a little bit of time just looking at nature, people passing you by or putting a face mask on. Whatever relaxes you (in my case playing PlayStation games with my boyfriend or reading a book) – either taking a walk, taking pictures of flowers or planting new monstera. Whatever works for you will be great. Try to implement at least 15 minutes of relax each day and increase this time every week by another 5 minutes until you reach at least and hour. (Side note: if your method requires electronics try to incorporate also something related with going out, at least a couple of times during the week). You will see how much your perception of things around you will change.

Right now I’m on holidays in Bieszczady Mountains again – I wrote about my first trip here in the post. This time I make it a point to enjoy the climate and nature in a greater extent. I took photographs of various flowers (as you probably noticed on Instagram and in this post) and both Floret and I want to explore new routes in the mountains.

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3. Try out slow-food.

In this world ruled by globalization access to food in developed countries is extremely easy. I can get food in 5 minutes, either by going out and getting it from shops/restaurants and my mom’s house or by ordering anything I like with UBEReats or any other application. This ease is quite frankly exhausting at some point. Not only do I have weight problems, I also more and more often get a case of troubled stomach from highly processed food.

The word “Slow” in slow living is an acronym which according to the most reliable source of information (sense the sarcasm here) Wikipedia stands for: sustainable, local, organic and whole – as in not processed. The same source also stands that the movement was set-up by an Italian man Carlo Petrini who protested vigorously against opening McDonald’s restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, Rome. Although I love to devour a Big Mac sometimes, I have to agree with Mr. Carlo. Such places, in this case the most famous square in Italy, should be filled with Italian spots, not something you can eat on a gas station everywhere in Europe.

If you want to join in the movement and eat in a Slow Living style I advise you cook everything yourself. Not only will it do wonders to your figure, it will most probably save you a lot of money. When I cook I tend to choose simpler dishes with less ingredients. I look up recipes on various sites (My favourite blog is the one named Kwestia Smaku, but unfortunately the author only publishes in Polish) and simply follow. I have learned many recipes I’ve never done before, which are not only quite uncomplicated (like spaghetti alio olio, penne arrabiata, chicken in carrot sauce, and so forth) but also delicious. Trying out slow cooking also made me eat a lot less meat – a tip to become a vegetarian soon.

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I know icecream is not really a superfood, but these crafter icecream of the orange cheesecake taste were just too delicious not to mention.

4. Know your value and keep your stand.

I can’t stress this point too strongly really. I have so many girlfriends who just don’t believe in themselves one bit. Because of self-doubt they are constantly insecure and full of unexplainable fears that cause them to get wild sometimes. Seriously, if I got a penny each time I had to convince my friends not to immediately dump their boyfriends or call their “sworn enemies” and call them out I would be a very rich woman. A very rich woman.

I sometimes have moments of self-doubt myself. Even today, in the morning I felt so unattractive, fat and… I don’t know, simply miserable, that the entire day seemed like a nightmare. Fortunately, I have Floret who reminds me sometimes, that there is so much to look for each day.

What I learned in life is that you are unique. There is absolutely no other person just like you and you should always be proud of who you are and strive to be better each day.

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5. Don’t ever let anyone bring you down. Keep your attitude positive.

You don’t have to (and most probably never will) be friends with everyone. There are always going to be people who despise you even if you’re another Virgin Mary. That’s just how life works and the faster you realize that the happier you will get.

If anyone around you keeps trying to bring you down… well, let’s just say the point I made above about getting rid of these people from your life is valid. What I am going to say now might seem harsh, but the above applies even to family members for me. If someone, whoever it is, brings you down – they don’t deserve to stay in your life.

About the second sentence of the title of this chapter: I think staying positive is a key to success in life. Even after the worst day sun comes up again. Always strive to see the bright side in things and never give up.

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And what are your thoughts on slow life? Have you ever tried the trend? Let me know in the comments.

Dorota

5 great ways to spend quality at home

I once read that home is the base where everything begins. It’s a place of relaxation and utter peace where we are able to simply unwind and rest after an entire week of work. I love staying at home, became a little bit of a couch potato recently – ¬†totally not ashamed – and must have my own, personal time. Binge-watching Netflix shows, browsing through the Internet, watching YouTube videos of my favourite Creators and simply clearing my mind. This is all fine, I mean who of you doesn’t do it, right? At some point though, there comes a realization, that spending time watching YouTube might not be the best quality-wise time spent.

Realizing an issue exists is a first step to improve. At least that’s what my parents thought me when I was younger, so I analyzed and came to the conclusion there are numerous ways in which I can spend better-quality time at home.

1. Enjoy your time with board games

board game witcher II free time

I love playing board games. I bought and was gifted various of games including Catan, Scotland Yard, Monopoly (of course), Colt Express, The Witcher, Board the Train, Dixit and many others. Both Floret and I have been collecting games ever since we found an old version of the Scotland Yard in his parents’ house and we decided to play together. This is one of my favourite things to do during Friday evening when we don’t go out. It’s great; there’s rivalry, fun, all sorts of emotions and satisfaction.

Playing requires focus, it helps creating bonds within the family. Ever since I was young my parents used to play cards or European version of Monopoly called Eurobusiness with us. I loved it! I remember how happy I was when I got it for Christmas one year. The entire family played and it was great, I still recall those moments and even now, at the age of 27 I enjoy all sorts of board games. If you’ve never played I advise you to try out with something less complicated – like Monopoly. You won’t believe how entertaining that is.

2. Check out latest computer games

Ok, I’m not saying slay The Witcher III or God of War, by no means, but adventure games such as Uncharted 4 are great for all sorts of players! I love playing computer games – I was raised very closely with my older brother and we used to play together. If you’ve never played PlayStation4 games… What I can say is: that’s not what you think. Many people perceive gaming as a total and utter waste of time, but in reality it does improve your cognitive functions, it does make you notice details in the background faster and it definitely teaches you languages: look at me, never ever have I attended additional English classes and here I am, convincing you to check PS4 games out.

uc4_06

Let’s take first example I mentioned above: Uncharted 4. This beautiful game created by Naughty Dog is a perfect example of how graphics improved within the last 5 years. This is a story of Nate Drake, a treasure hunter who helps his brother pay off his debt to a dangerous Gang Leader – by finding a pirate treasure. I can’t even describe how entertaining that games is – not only is it beautiful, it’s also humoristic, fun, packed with action and great plot twists. I enjoyed it so much I actually played it 4 times already, and each time I am home alone and cooking I simply turn on YouTube on my TV and watch¬†Pewdiepie playing the game. Even now, when I’m writing this, my boyfriend Floret is just right next to me on the couch playing God of War

The titles I would recommend are: Uncharted series, The Last of Us (although way more aggressive), Until Dawn, Horizon, Dragon Age and of course, the king of all the games: The Witcher 3.

3. Read a book

If you believe that the art of reading in the computer age waned, particularly among children, is a sure sign that you are a Muggle.

These wise words were printed on my Polish copy of Harry Potter books when I first got them in 2001. I love reading – I always enjoyed spending a quiet evening with a book. I don’t even remember the time I didn’t know how to read – it’s simply like books were always with me. With age I shifted a little bit towards Crime genre, but I love Fantasy still. I don’t read much of Classical literature though – when I was in high school I made it a point to read a book from every single one of Nobel Prize Winners in Literature (which I did) but I can’t seem to remember half of the books I’ve read.

Katarzyna Bonda reading book literature crime

There are though, pieces that you remember for your entire life. I loved reading Camilla Lackberg and of course the queen of crime literature Agatha Christie. I wanted to go now into which books I enjoyed but I can’t spend an entire year writing one post. I bought the book in the picture above today during grocery shopping and I’ve been craving to read ever since (meaning since yesterday) when I read the first part (I bought it and read it yesterday, that’s how hardcore of a crime reader I am).

I don’t think I have to advertise reading – it’s a common knowledge how great it is for broadening perspective and mastering imagination. Whenever I read, I truly feel like I am in a completely different world – Floret will confirm, even if he talks to me the sound just doesn’t get to my brain.

4. Plan your next holiday trip

I am soon planning to go for a short holiday in the mountains. I am a little bit overworked recently and decided to head for a camping trip at Solina Lake in Bieszczady Mountains – yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been there and shared pictures here, but the place is so stunning I had to see it again. For this trip, there is no planning required, but as I mentioned in my recent post about planning an EUROTRIP¬†I was invited to spend some quality time in Croatia.

how to plan holiday trip to croatia

As I’ve mentioned during the coverage of my Eurotrip experience, I’ve already been there once two years ago, so there was no need for me to purchase another guide. I am currently looking through maps, checking events and flights, prices for renting a car, distance from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and best beaches on the way. Finding things in advance might really improve the holidays experience and let us see things otherwise we wouldn’t even know of.

5. Sort through pictures!

I got you, didn’t I? Do you also have a pile of printed out pictures you should sort out but you never do because Netflix is so damn tempting? Is the pile stashed in a box from IKEA somewhere in your room and you pretend like it doesn’t exist because you feel guilty you were supposed to do something about it ages ago and you never did? Do you pray to God to become Bruce Almighty so you can use your stretching time capabilities to sort your pictures? Yeah, me too.

how to sort pictures album

I went for my Eurotrip 2 years ago and I still haven’t inserted my pictures in an album… – I am a terrible person, I know. I think sorting these out would bring a sense of piece of mind to me, so I might as well take care of it right about now. Keep fingers crossed!

And what do you do to spend a quality time at home?

Dorota