Walhallavagen

Just an ordinary girl's life

Category: Simple Life

January indulging habits

A lot of people complain about the month of January: they associate it with post-festivities blue moods, extremely cold and cloudy weather (if you live in the upper hemisphere – otherwise, probably super hot?), back to work, new year’s resolutions fading in the blink of eye – you get the idea.

For me, January is one of the best months of the year – I love winter [I wouldn’t have moved from Italy to Scotland otherwise] and I love the cold and cloudy weather as it feels like the perfect time to stay inside warm and cozy [soup, tea, books, language learning sessions: total bliss].

I also like the idea of going back to work and a normal schedule/routine after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year. Of course I do enjoy some festive and family time, but since I’m mostly a creature of habits I’m always happy to go back to my regular activities – which invariably get disrupted during the festive season.

Plus, January is a new start. I talked about my approach to goals and resolution briefly here, but in short, even if I don’t pan to change my life at 360 degrees on January 1st, I still like the idea of a fresh start – starting one new habit, finally completing a task I’ve been putting off for too long, simple things like this.

I also like to combine the idea of winter with that of self care and self pampering, so every January I come up with a few new activities/habits to make me feel like I’m taking care of myself:

  • watching Chinese dramas on Netflix (this one in particular) – a great way of exercising my listening skills as well as satisfy my cravings for Asian dramas: the perfect way of getting the best of two worlds!
  • big science fiction books – because daylight is still quite short and there are a lot of dark afternoons to fill with great nerdy readings
  • soup in a mug – I mean, winter! Soup! What else?
  • listening to lo-fi compilations on YouTube – I always have a soundtrack while either studying or reading, and chill out and lo fi music creates the best atmosphere for me right now
  • planning sessions in bed – while I’m very good at looking at and updating my planner during the day, after I take my shower and get into my pijamas I often forget to check once again if I’ve done everything for the day. Bringing my planner with me in bed is a great way to get comfy while keeping on top of things
  • candle lighting – I’ve discovered that summer nights are so bright in Scotland that I don’t get to light candles for months during the warmer season, so I like to make the most of it while I still have enough darkness during the day!

 

Hoping you’re having a super cozy January as well!

 

 

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恭喜发财!

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Happy New Year my dear friends! 🍾

I sincerely hope you’re having a wonderful festive season with time for relax, good food and, of course, language learning 🙂

Last year I shared my not-too-serious goals for 2018 and I’m going to do the same this time!

2019 goals:

  1. decide whether or not I want to take JLPT this year and, in that case, go for it!
  2. start saving for Japan travel
  3. read a 漫画 in Chinese
  4. get that second piercing (I didn’t in 2018!)
  5. go to a festival! (same)
  6. watch 8 Asian dramas
  7. Ireland trip with the plus one
  8. get myself a luxurious skincare product
  9. read 45 books

I feel positive for this 2019, the last couple of years have brought a lot of (good) changes in my life and I’m ready for more 🙂

Plans for the rest of the day: read my current sci-fi novel, treat my hair to a glorious hair mask and order Japanese on Deliveroo!

新年进步!

Year in Review ~ 2018

What did I do this year?

2018 has been another important year in my personal life. I’ve actively started working towards some specific goals of mine and I also brought myself to finally face some anxiety-inducing issues, which has improved greatly the quality of my life. There is still a lot of work to do and one thing to absolutely do this year is decide once and for all which career direction I intend to take and do my best to follow along until the end. But I’m very happy to say that by December 31st 2018 I’ve accomplished all the main goals I had set for myself this year, and I feel a lot more content and at ease.

I’ve been fairly good at crossing off some day-to-day goals that I set for myself last year (the lipstick and nail polish challenge having been particularly successful), which may seem silly but that, at the end of the day, makes the difference between feeling like you’re taking care of yourself or not. I also feel like I’ve been giving a sort of second chance at life, and I’m definitely going to work even harder on my health and wellbeing in 2019.

Technology

A new entry this year has been my long-longed-for iMac, which I’ve been using constantly since I got it for my birthday in May. I still have my iPhone SE and have no intention of replacing it any time soon since it still works perfectly. In 2019 I plan to replace my iPad (after many years of very good service) and to make a decision about my very old but very beloved MacBook pro. I’m debating whether or not to buy a new one, since I don’t need it for work and I definitely don’t bring my laptop with me when I’m on vacation.

In terms of apps, if in 2017 I started downsizing, in 2018 I’ve downsized even more. I’ve talked briefly here about the apps that have survived my minimalistic fervour and I will surely talk about it more in the future. Less is more is increasingly becoming my daily mantra as I’ve witnessed a tremendous improvement in my overall life quality by having less stuff (both physically and digitally) around me.

Planning

I reviewed my 2018 planning system here so I don’t think it’s appropriate to repeat myself. I’m happy to report that I managed to really use just one planner for the entire year as I vowed to do last December, and that I’ve used to experience to learn a lot about bad planning habits and vices. I’m sure 2019 is going to be even more successful in this regard.

Study (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

I’ve learnt a lot also about learning this year. I had a rollercoaster of very high and very low moments in my language learning journey (especially for Chinese), until I finally managed to settle into a regular routine around the end of September. Focusing my study on preparing for HSK 3 has finally helped me finding a framework within which I could track my actual progresses and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

I think I’m going to start from here in 2019 and expand my self discipline in both language learning and other forms of self education that’s I have been putting off for too long. I will have to decide whether to go for the JLPT or not, since I’m giving myself a 2 year deadline for HSK4 (December 2020).

Wellness

As I was mentioning before, I had a good wake up call back at the beginning of February, and this has been the right chance to step up my game even more in terms of taking care of my health and wellbeing. Being healthy with a busy life is no piece of cake, but the more I grow up (I should probably say grow old) the more I realise this is just something that can’t be put in the back burner.

My goal for 2019 in this regard is to be absolutely strict about the 5-a-day rule and to set into place a solid routine around yoga and the 10.000 daily steps.

Books, TV Series, Dramas and Music

TV

I’m happy to report that I’ve watched much less tv this year, something that is clearly reflected in the increased amount of books I finished instead. I also watched a lot more Asian dramas compared to last year (since Netflix has finally started acknowledging their existence). Sadly, I don’t think I watched any anime in 2018 – and I haven’t read any manga either, which means this is clearly something I need to put more effort in.

For 2019 I want to go along the same lines – less and less American tv series, more Asian dramas and ideally also a lot more anime.

Books

As of today, I’ve read 64 books in 2018 (but I may be able to finish one more between tonight and tomorrow). Needless to say, reading has been my greatest accomplishment for this year, as I’ve finally brought myself to reduce a lot of other insignificant activities while favouring the things I really enjoy doing. In 2018 I’ve read a lot of novels that I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time and never gotten to, and I’ve also stepped out of my comfort zone much more often (I even tried audio books, imagine!).

As for my best books of 2018, I have to say it’s really hard to pick just one or two. The one that left a major impression on me has been Educated by Tara Westover, and Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin has been another significant highlight. Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey is a book that I’m finding difficult to forget, as well as the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Milkman by Anna Burn, and I’ve loved the graphic novel Sabrina by Nick Drnaso.

I’ve also read a lot of interesting novels that were selected for both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize, and I’ve particularly enjoyed the children series Nevermoor (much more than I had anticipated actually). I also started and completed two YA series, The mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and the Miss Peregrine’s series by Ransom Riggs.

In 2019? I want to keep going! Oh and more non fiction (especially Asia-related) this year!

Music

2018 is still a synthwave / vaporwave / futurewave year, no doubt about that. I’ve taken the chance to listen to the entire discography of some of all-time my favourite artists as well as discover new, less famous bands.

I also really enjoyed watching Eurovision (for the third year in a row), and I’m slowing starting to open my mind more to Asian idols – especially EXO – for cultural and language learning purposes.

Closing

2018 has been a good year. A lot has happened in my life, but most of all, I feel like I’ve change my mindset like never before. I love my habits and routines but I can’t stand the idea of being stagnant so, even if it’s tiresome and stressful, I always welcome change. In 2019 I don’t plan on changing anything major – I just aim at keep doing the things I love, slightly better than the year before.

The Simple Life Project ~ Aug-Dec Empties {2018}

With less than a week away from the new year, my hands are tingling for the urge of decluttering and downsizing my possessions once more. I guess once you start seeing stuff as what it really is (something weighting you down and sucking a good chunk of your time, essentially) you simply can’t stop throwing things away.

I’ve taken care of the bedroom drawers today and I’m heading towards the closet tomorrow. Significant other’s stuff included. HA!

While cleaning, I obviously took the chance to assess the current status of my SL Project, specifically in terms of beauty product consumption. There a not a lot of finished products this second half of the year – partially because of the move in July, partially because I had to readjust to new schedules and commitments this last couple of months, which had an impact on my beauty regime as well.

What I gather from my empties is that, yes, body lotions and hand creams (+ probably lip balms) are my most consumed beauty products. They are essential for my very dry skin and, in the case of the body lotion, also one of my favourite nighttime rituals.

Hair products have seen an increased usage as well this year, especially in terms of conditioners and masks. Even if I’ve recently cut off a good chunk of my hair (now shoulder-length), I still like to take care of them with specific moisturising products; I also have a few styling goodies I’m quite enjoying using at the moment.

For skincare, it’s still a huge work in progress. This year I’ve started paying much more attention to what my skin actually needs rather than what is advertised in shops or youtube (about time?), so I’m still pretty much in the process of finishing old not-so-suitable-for-my-skin-type products, while figuring out which ingredients I should be focusing on. Simplifying the process by cutting on the number of products I use morning and evening is another important goal of mine.

All in all, I can say that between 2017 and 2018 I’ve made a lot of progresses in terms of reducing, decluttering and simplifying. I’ve switched to a kind of mindset favouring quality over quantity and, in general, I don’t feel the need of been surrounded by stuff to be happy – quite the contrary!

The journey towards minimalism and happiness continues.

 

圣诞快乐朋友们!

 

Wish a holly jolly Christmas to you all dear friends!

Despite some Grinch-like thoughts, I’m actually enjoy this festive season 🙂 and tbh I’m also happy not to think about language learning for a few days! This will definitely help me having a fresh start when January hits 🙂

Eat tons of good food and be merry!

 

{Beauty} Summer skincare routine

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护肤的时候!A few months ago I decided to try out some products from The Body Shop, which were light enough for the summer period [not that we have all that heatwave here in Scotland, but still]. I’m still on the lookout for the perfect skincare routine so I enjoy experimenting with different products from time to time.

As my 洁面乳 I’m still using a foam cleanser from Kiko Milano – foam cleansers are not the right product for my dry skin, but I still had one bottle left and I didn’t want to waste it. I also use this micellar water (which tbh is one of the best I’ve ever tried), the iconic COSRX snail mucin essence and a couple of other products (serum and eye cream) from Bottega Verde.

All these steps feel necessary since the foam cleanser dries out my skin quite a lot, but even though I really enjoy taking the time to pamper myself and take care of my skin, in the last few months I’ve started feeling like all this is a bit too much. Once I finish the foam cleanser I hope that my skin will feel much less dry and tight, and I’ll then be able to simplify and streamline my daily skincare process.

Back on topic, these are the products from The Body Shop that I’ve been using since May:

  1. Camomile gentle eye makeup remover – it’s really gentle on the eyes and has almost no scent, which is good – but I find it’s not quite enough to completely remove my eye makeup, even though I’m not using waterproof. I’d say that this is a nice pre-cleansing product, but I always need to use something else to remove my make up completely afterwards, plus I find that if you have a nice cleansing balm you really don’t need a product specific for the eye area. Nice but won’t repurchase.
  2. Camomile sumptuous cleansing balm – this is a really good cleansing balm, and honestly, I think it would have been one of my staples, if only. It comes in a velvety buttery consistency, it’s not greasy at all, and in contact with waters it becomes a gentle cream that is very easy to wash out. As I was saying, it’s a good product and I enjoyed using it – but just not as good as the Botanics Cleansing Balm. I’ll probably repurchase in the future, but for fall and winter I need something more dense.
  3. Vitamin E hydrating toner and Vitamin E aqua boost essence lotion – these products are fantastic and I will definitely repurchase them both. They are really hydrating and work wonders on my sky after using my not-so-gentle-for-dry-skin cleanser. The essence has a lovely milky consistency which makes it really easy to apply it on the skin directly with my fingers, and even the toner is slightly denser than the ones I’ve tried in the past. I’ve used it for the 7 skin method and I’ve been very pleased by the results.
  4. Vitamin E sink moisture sleeping mask – so, I’ve been willing to try out a sleeping mask for a very long time since I have pretty dry and tight skin (especially during very windy day – hello Scottish weather), and this one seemed perfect for the purpose. I can’t say I don’t like it – but I don’t love it either. I guess I was expecting a more heavy and greasy consistency (which is something people usually don’t like, but I do) since it’s a product that has to work during my sleep and has all nightime to sink in. I like it and I enjoy using it and I really really want to love it – but I don’t know if I can. I definitely want to try out something else before repurchasing.

 

Fall is approaching (can’t wait) and I’m super ready to put out my heavy oils and balms 🤣 I would also like to try out some new products from East Asia, but I still have to exactly figure out which retailers sell them in the Uk (Amazon hasn’t a much wide variety, unfortunately). If anyone has any suggestions in terms of both products and stores please let me know 🙂

The Simple Life Project – Jan/Jun Empties {2018}

They say less is more, and honestly after 4 years of beauty products disposal plan and one year of conscious (non)spending, I have to say that I can only agree. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a clear, empty space where you used to have a lot of clutter and stuff (half of which you probably don’t even care that much about).

I’ve been going on with my decluttering / mindful spending / clutter reducing project that I like to call Simple Life Project, and I have to say that if 2017 was good, 2018 is going even better – so I have high hopes for 2019.

January – February – March

 

Skincare

I finished 5 products, some of which I really liked and would like to repurchase while other were nice but forgettable (and I hated the Clinians micellar water, never gonna buy it again EVER).

Hair Products

Finally some improvements on the hair front, considering it takes me forever to use up shampoos (I shampoo my hair twice a week, and the plus one has his own hair products). Back in September of last year I started dyeing the ends of my hair with the L’Oréal Colorista line, and even though I have light brown hair I had to use bleach to lighten the colour – which of course ended up drying my ends immensely. Hence the high number of hair masks / conditioners used in this period.

Bodycare

Quite a few body products, as expected. The Kind Natured coconut & monoi body lotion and the Ragdale Hall Spa blossom body butter are staples in my bodycare routine, while I was very disappointed at the Sanctuary Spa salt scrub.

Makeup & Samples

I also tried to be good and finish up as much samples as I could. Am I the only one who kind of hates samples…? I like the idea of trying out a product before purchasing, but I always find the amount of product they contain either too much or not enough (and if you don’t finish them in one sit they tend to dry out pretty quickly). There are a couple of products here I’d like to buy in full size though =) I also managed to finish one nail polish, one mascara and two black eyeliners (not displayed in the picture).

Non-Beauty: Teas & Infusions

I don’t drink coffee [yes, I’m serious] so I tend to turn to teas as my main source of warm beverages. Over the years I’ve been trying out many different brands / flavours, but lately I’ve started feeling a little underwhelmed by the fact that many teas don’t live up to my expectations so I’ve started sicking to a few staples. I was happy to finish some older products I wasn’t much excited about anymore!

 

April – May – June

Face products (Skincare + Makeup)

I finished a lot of good face products here, and one of them (the cleansing balm by Botanics) has actually become my absolute favourite in that category to date. I also successfully consumed two other mascaras (quite old, they really needed to go) and two black eye pencils.

Hair products

Yay for hair products this time! I love the fact that the Ultimate Blends shampoo and conditioner come in such a huge bottles, but after almost a year of using them I guess I’m ready for something new.

Body products

I used *a lot* of body lotions this time around, and also two entire hand cream bottles. Guess my implemented nighttime routine has started giving results XD

Non-beauty: Teas and Infusions

I think you can see what I meant about staples in my tea collection here (Whittard’s Dreamtime and Drink Me Chai chai latte are among them, for sure). I also like to try out some artisan loose leaf teas from time to time, and it seems that there are a few nice places to check out here in Edinburgh. I tend to avoid teabags for environmental reasons.

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Apart from beauty products, I also have made a conscious effort to start using up my stationery items (stationery is the second sector of my life that is always in danger of becoming a hoarding obsession). I have many super cute notebooks that I really don’t feel like parting from; this said, I’m slowly entering a new mindset that allows me to get rid of some stuff once they have been all used (like the A6 Muji notebooks I used to write my daily to do lists on).

For memory’s sake I now tend to snap photos of the pages that I would like to revisit in the future (for sentimental or practical reasons), but then the notebook itself is free to go in the paper recycling bin. It’s an effort, yes, it definitely doesn’t come natural to me to throw out this sort of stuff. But it’s also a necessary step towards a more easy and relaxed lifestyle (plus the only thing that really matters is not wasting paper, and I’m happy to know that my notebooks can be reused to make new notebooks in the future without endangering our forests).

 

Life Lately (July/August 2018)

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With the house move frenzy finally over, I’m now free to come back to a resemblance of normal life. Still a lot of boxes floating around the house of course – but ALL LANGUAGE LEARNING BOOKS ARRIVED SAFE AND SOUND and that’s what truly matters. 🙃

So before jumping back to a regular blog schedule (hopefully), I would like to make a brief update on what has been going on in my life lately so that I can pick up from there.

Language Learning

Needless to say, during the house move LL has not been my primary focus (especially since all my study resources where packed away). I managed to keep my streak on Duolingo though [I’m now on my 147th consecutive day of practice], which is fine. I’m growing increasingly dissatisfied with D tbh, especially with its Chinese version (the Japanese one has fewer skills but works much better), but I still keep going. Right now a not-so-great study practice is still better than no practice at all, so in a way it has been serving its purpose.
I’m now ready to get back to some more serious study engagement, and as of yesterday I’ve already retrieved my listening practice [though for the moment is a kind of passive activity with Chinese dialogues playing in the background while I’m doing other things – mainly, unboxing]. I was also thinking about doing a proper two-day Chinese full immersion experience with a lot of concentrated reading and listening activities. I’ve been reading a lot about the Listening-Reading method lately and I’m kind of intrigued – so much that I’m eager to give it a try. Maybe over the weekend if things slow down a bit, it’s more a feeling than a plan for now tbh.

Tv Shows

Before moving to Edinburgh I managed to finish watching Reply 1997 and I really, really enjoyed it 😀 it was exactly the kind of drama I was in the mood for. Since then I’ve been watching a few episodes of Midnight Diner with the plus one [though I would like to rewatch them by myself with Japanese subtitles as I feel like it could be an excellent listening practice], and kind of binge watching Orange is the New Black (for some reason I keep watching it every year when a new season comes out even though I don’t particularly like it).
Now that things have somewhat settled down I’m motivated to pick up a new Asian drama for my entertainment. I surely want to watch Reply 1994 before the end of the year, but I would like to mix up genres a bit since I know I tend to get bored easily. I was thinking about Black since it has been on my TBW list for a while now, but there’s also a new Taiwanese drama (On Children) on Netflix which has a super intriguing / disturbing plot AND is also in Chinese, so it gets double points for language practice. Hard to choose! #firstworldproblems

Books

If you are invested in culture and general intellectual / artistic activities, Edinburgh is your city. One of the first things I did once I grabbed my proof of address here has been subscribing to the Edinburgh Libraries System and OH BOY THERE’S SO MUCH CHOICE HERE (of both digital and physical resources). I think I already reserved something like 7 items between ebooks and paper versions, and dowloaded a couple.

In these last months of quite intense reading activity, I’ve unconsciously established a sort of pattern for my reading choices. What I usually do is reading 3 books at the same time (I swore for years that I couldn’t bare the idea of reading multiple books simultaneously, which goes to show how we really shouldn’t use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ and ‘everything’):
1. one ‘serious’ novel, either a classic or a contemporary author
2. one non fiction
3. one ‘entertaining’ novel (crime, science fiction, fantasy, YA etc)
I discovered that more than 3 books make things unmanageable as I end up focusing on just a couple – meaning, I’m not actually reading 5 books at the same time. Three seems like the perfect number to keep me entertained enough and supplied with the necessary amount of variety, but without overdoing it.

Music

I’ve been branching out a little lately, especially with all those hours of unpacking and re-shelving (I needed to be entertained, and I needed it badly). Synthwave and Retrowave are still my absolute favourite, but this month I’ve also been listening quite a lot to シティーポップ, or Japanese City Pop, which yes, it kinda make sense from a consistency point of view. Many tracks also have lyrics (in Japanese), which again is super good for listening practice. I’ve been also delving more into K Indie music (I did the same last year, it must be a summer thing) and I’ve found some very nice playlists on Youtube [there are tons of good mixes out there, but this one has been my absolute favourite since the beginning of summer].

Beverages

Chai tea & chai latte all the way!

Planners

It’s been a while since my last post on the topic of planners. What I can say is that 2018 has been one of my best planner years so far, even more so since 2017 was probably the worst -.- I have a planner-related post that I’ve been willing to write for a while now, so I’ll save all the juicy details for that one; for now I can say that my planning system is becoming increasingly simple and goal-oriented, with less and less apps and notebooks used and a much more functional approach to the whole idea of planning.

Routines

There’s nothing as disruptive as a prolonged period of scattered schedules for the good functioning of regular routines, but I’m getting back to them one by one and I’m also working on implementing some ameliorations. The significant other will be working in another town for a few days per week during these first 6 months, which gives me room to be a bit more experimental with the way I want to structure my days. I’ve managed to keep my early-bed=early-rise schedule, which is good good, so now the main focus will be on Chinese study and yoga practice.

 

How is everyone’s summer going? I hope you’re having a fulfilling and relaxing time with your family and friends, and also some good moments of language learning of course 😉

 

Mid year review {June 2018}

[Slightly late in posting this]

With half a year already behind us it’s nice to take the time for sitting down and dedicating a few minutes to think about how things have gone so far – and even more importantly, how we want them to go in the following 6 months. Because honestly, planning for an entire year in advance is kind of optimistic. Many of the things we thought were important in January are no longer on the horizon by March, so readjusting and reevaluating is always a good practice.

I shared at the beginning of the year some of the ‘silly’ things I wanted to do in 2018, but I actually have four main areas of self growth in which I put my focus every year: language learning, health & wellness, books, and screen time (movies as well as tv shows).

I’m going to review each of them in order of increasing difficulty, meaning, from the activity that requires the least will power to the one that I almost have to force myself to do.

1. Movies, Asian Dramas, TV series

Paradoxically, this year my main goal in this sector was to watch less stuff. Last year I spent a lot of my free time with my nose glued on the iPad screen, only to feel disappointed in the end for not accomplish much in terms of Chinese and everything else (surprise surprise). Another goal of mine this year was to decrease the amount of American tv series I watch and start focusing more on Asian dramas.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been quite successful with both these goals. I now watch American tv series almost exclusively when I’m cooking / washing the dishes / ironing (I also watch them with my significant other, but not every night). I wanted to watch a minimum of 6 Asian dramas in 2018, and at the time I’m writing this I’m close to finish my 5th. I’ve also been watching more movies, something I used to do a lot in my teen years but for which I’ve kinda been lazy lately.

All in all, it’s a much welcomed change that has improved my life quality a lot, and has allowed me to find room for other more important and satisfying activities.

2. Books (novels and non fiction)

Reading is definitely the sector that has been more successful this year. In 2017 I barely managed to reach my goal of 25 books, and not because I didn’t have the time to; I was devoting my free time to the wrong activities (see above) and I wasn’t even making all that conscious choices in terms of what I wanted to read.

So I went for 25 books again in 2018, just to play it safe, and I actually reached my goal by June, 15th. Not only I have achieved it in less than half the expected time – I’m also much more satisfied by the reading choices I’m making. This year I finally read a lot of books that had been on my wish list for the longest time, I’m switching between genres and reading different things a lot more, and I’ve been keeping myself up to date with the latest trends and bookshop releases. Now every time that I go Waterstones or Blackwell’s I know the majority of titles that are on display, and I’ve often read a few of them already.

I don’t want 2018 to be a rare bird but rather to become the standard way I approach my reading time. It’s not so much about the numbers, but mostly about making intentional choices and be aware of how I spend my own free time.

3. Language learning

Here comes the sore point of this list. Despite my best efforts, I cannot honestly say that my language study routine has improved much since the lows of last year. I’m starting now to be a little more consistent with my study and to see the first serious progresses, but these first 6 months have been mostly trials and errors.

Honestly, I would have never though that self-learning would have been this hard. I was so motivated and positive when I fist decided not to go back to Chinese classes and to start the solo-journey – where has all that good energy gone? I’m still passionate about language learning but I’m struggling a lot in finding my own way. Which means that the road towards fluency is still very long.

On a more positive note, I can say that at least this year I’ve spend a lot much time studying that in 2017. It may not be extremely successful, but at least I’ve brought myself more times than not to do the work. Another good thing of 2018 is the fact that, after much toying with the idea, I finally started studying Japanese again. It’s only a 10 min daily practice on Duolingo, so definitely nothing mind-blowing, but for now it’s enough to bring me in touch with the language again.

4. Health and wellness

I like being healthy and I like the idea of being healthy, but sometimes I find it hard to keep it up to my expectations (especially when living with someone who craves junk food all the time). I’m fairly good at eating healthy [water intake, 5 a day, no refined sugars etc.] but when it comes to do physical exercise, except for walking, I have to really push myself to do it.

In January I had to investigate a potentially bad health condition which thankfully didn’t happen in the end – this was the much-needed wakeup call to finally face the physical activity issue and change my mind frame once and for all.

I can’t say that now I’m the queen of workouts and, yes, I could always do more, but since then I’ve been making a conscious effort in trying and being more active. A very important thing for me in this process has been finding the sort of activity that I actually like doing; so no gym, no I-want-to-be-slimmer workouts, not hiit – yes yoga, yes pilates, yes qi gong. I want to be able to enjoy what I’m doing, not just appreciate the results.

So how am I assessing the achievements in this sector for the first half of the year? I’d say that I can and I want to do more, but I’ve also made important progresses and I now feel a lot more engaged in my overall health and wellbeing. In the end it’s a kind of holistic practice – I can’t really be healthy if I don’t take care of my nutrition as well as physical exercise as well as self love and self care. You know the I treat my body like a temple meme? Exactly, just, for real.

Others

Blog. I’ve been more relaxed about blogging this year, which sometimes has turned out as ‘I would like to write this on my blog but naaaah‘, but in general it’s worked better for me. I often think about giving up since I’d rather spend time actually studying than writing about studying, but for now I can’t really bring myself to do it.

Instagram. I’ve been a lot better this year. I’ve had my good share of non-active periods, but I’ve kept it up fairly well and I’ve shared a lot more compared to 2017. I love the language learning community there and it’s definitely one of my main source of inspiration for when I’m feeling down (LL-wise).

Things that I would like to implement in my routine

Photography: it’s always been a great passion of mine and I also have a super classy sassy DSLR camera waiting for me to release my inner artist (much inner), but I just seem to never find the time for it. It’s actually a bit of a controversial point, because I know that, when it come to focus and attention, less is more – but it’s also something I really really want to do, so I’ll definitely take it into consideration.

I’ve been also quite good at my simple life project this year (there will be a dedicated post on this topic), so for the rest of 2018 I hope to be able to declutter even more and to be able to streamline my routines by cutting down all the different time-wasting activities I still carry out.

 

2018 has been a surprisingly satisfactory year so far, and honestly I think this is the first time I feel like I’m really getting closer to where I want to be in life. I think that reflecting on how things have gone so far is extremely useful, and it’ll help a lot in making the right choices in the upcoming months.

Feelings, memories and rediscoveries

I’m in a mood for sentimental, cheesy posts these days.

I’m watching Reply 1997 on Netflix at the moment, and I’m freakin loving it. It’s rough, it’s sassy, it’ hilarious – everything that I’m looking for in a drama that should be fun and entertaining. It also stars my beloved Seo In-guk from the glorious times of Hello Monster, who is not as beloved as Park Bo-gum, but he still ranks pretty high XD

Plus in the first episode they make a brief reference to Infinite whilst there’s The Chaser playing in the background, which happens to be the only K-pop song that I know by the only K-pop group that I know, lol. Let’s bring those fangirl feelings out.

[EDIT: Hoya is in the cast of R1997, so maybe that explains everything XD]

Watching this drama is bringing me back to my own high school years – especially, for some reason, to the spring 2003 (yes, I’m that old), a particularly happy period of my teenage life. I remember hanging out after school with friends (I was still a sociable human being at that time XD), popping in and out of bookshops and stationery stores, eating ice creams and granita on the bench in front of school.

I remember getting excited for the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, reading Fushigi Yuugi and Mint na Bokura (Cuore di menta in Italian) after class – and Slam Dunk on the MTV Anime night, my first Japanese learning book (it was a 1945 grammar that belonged to my grandpa – apparently it runs in the family) and me filling in sheets of paper with kana practice.

If I look back, life seemed so much easier back then. (But maybe it wasn’t. You only get what you can endure, right?)

What surprises me the most though is to see how, all in all, things always remain the same. Even at 16/17 I was happy when I could hang out like-minded people, and immerse myself in Japanese culture(s).

Nothing much has changed over the years 😅😅😅

Thinking about starting to watch anime again (for the Nth time… I always say that without actually doing it), though I generally feel much more drawn to older shows rather than the newest ones… Something like Elfen Lied (it’s on Netflix) or Black Lagoon, or even older stuff like Slayers 🤪