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The Ultimate Guide To A Minimalist Wedding

With everything that comes with weddings these days, it is often hard to remember what the day is really about.

The average couple now spends around £20,983 on their perfect day, according to a survey ran by You and Your Wedding in 2014. That is an awful lot of money to make a commitment to someone you love.

November is a month that always gets me thinking about weddings as it marks the anniversary of my own. It is a time where I look back and cherish a great moment, but mostly think about the day-to-day. How lucky we are to have something that gets’ stronger each day.

I feel that three years ago, I got married minimally, spent next to nothing in comparison to the UK average, but I am just as married as the couples who went all out.

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So what is a minimalist wedding?

A common misconception when thinking about a minimalist wedding is that it will involve bare tables, hardly any people and a dress you already own.

This is because quite often people associate minimalism with owning as few items as physically possible. Minimalism is not about that. It is about living only with what makes you happy. Having items to enrich your life, experiences to fill your life, and getting away from the bad clutter that just detracts from your happiness.

So this is why I think a minimalist wedding is the perfect wedding. It is about ensuring your marriage celebration contains exactly what makes you happy.

Forget about the DJ if doing the Macarena really isn’t your thing and you’d much rather be dancing to your all time favourite hits from Spotify.

Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to provide all your guests with the most elaborate favours (that honestly, they probably will have eaten, lost or stored away in a draw a week after the event), don’t. Why not donate to charity on everyone’s behalf instead?

The reality is, we have been so brainwashed with consumerist marketing messages around what a wedding should involve, we have forgot to ask the simplest of questions, why?

A wedding in the 1950’s is drastically different to today. It seems we are getting further away from the meaning of the day and more into the show and splendor of one great big party.

I think it’s time we stopped doing what we feel we should for our weddings, and start doing what we want to do. What makes us happy.

It might be a intimate wedding on a beach because you love being near the sea and you naturally don’t like a fuss. It might be a huge church wedding with 500 friends and family. But whatever the celebration, make sure you are asking yourself throughout, is this for them, or for us?

The best weddings I have been to have been because the day was filled with so much love, fun and the happiness from the couple has been infectious.

Whatever you choose to include on your day, make it for the both of you.

What our ‘minimalist’ wedding involved

Our wedding wouldn’t have made it into the pages of Brides magazine, and probably shocked a few of the guests on the day. But you know what, it was the most perfect and wonderful day of my life.

Together we decided our wedding ground rules depending on our values, and anything that didn’t fit into it didn’t get included on the day.

They were:

  1. Focus on each other. The whole day was very much around us, our memories and our favourites.
  2. Having our immediate family and friends there. An intimate wedding was more important to us than a larger one.
  3. Eating food I didn’t need to worry about and could have the same meal as everyone else. I didn’t want to be limited to a dairy free version of a five-course extravaganza. Imagine food envy on your own wedding day! Fanciness didn’t matter to us, it was just more around joint enjoyment.
  4. Drinks galore! We went for a venue without a license but that was licensed for us to bring our own alcohol. This way wine was plentiful without the shocking bar or corkage charges!
  5. Making it beautifully unique. We wanted to remember it for years to come.

So in case you are wondering, here are some of the details from our minimal wedding day.

The Dress

I wore a £20 dress that my lovely nanny-in-law altered to suit my size. It wasn’t designer, and I didn’t have that champagne in the dress store moment, but what I did have was the perfect dress. Don’t get me wrong, I tried on your typical wedding dresses but quite honestly, I looked like a child playing dress-up. I knew that to feel good on the day I needed something simple. For other brides, the big dress is perfect for them and what they need on the day, and I am all for that.

My veil was £3 from eBay. The shoes, £5. It was all a bargain, but it was perfect. I am also glad it didn’t cost much more as I wouldn’t wear any of them again!

I am still trying to decide what to do with my dress now. It is the only nostalgic item remaining in my minimal wardrobe!

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The Venue

We got married at a registry office and had the reception on a small farm called Stepney Hill Farm (Yorkshire people, if you are getting married I would wholly recommend this venue!) It was wonderful. Both my parents and my in-laws helped us with the fine details on the day to make it amazing such as having a small marquee to dance the night away in!

The views were amazing, the food was brilliant and all locally sourced from the farm ticking our environmental boxes, and it was intimate enough to make our wedding feel full and alive with our 40 guests.

Make sure it is perfect for the both of you, and this feeling will surround the whole day. Happiness is infectious, if you are happy your guests will be happy.

The Cake

It was the most incredible cake, lovingly made by my wonderful mother-in-law.

As I am lactose intolerant I was incredibly worried about the cost of getting a bespoke cake made. Oh, and add to this the fact that my husband or myself didn’t really love cake.

My mother-in-law stepped up here and made us the most wonderful and delicious cake using her homemade carrot cake recipe. It was something we both loved, and was a much better alternative than a £600 nine-tiered dessert that neither of us would eat again after the day!

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The Flowers 

Kudos again here to my mother-in-law, you will soon learn her creative talents are endless.

My husband and I love books. We lived for books. My ingenious mother in law made us bouquets out of books and roses so that we could keep them for years to come.

I was very unsure about spending thousands (yes you read that right, a lot of wedding flowers cost this much) on something that wouldn’t live long past the day.

Again, the message here, do what makes you happy.

The Invites

As we both work in digital, it seemed fitting that we designed the invites ourselves. Oh, and then we used the medium of the internet to deliver the invites. I know for a lot of people gorgeous posted cards are a necessity, but for us, just ensuring we had the people there on the day was the main aim. So we didn’t mind too much about how we invited them, just that they were there.

Oh and a bonus to this, almost instant RSVP’s. This I can assure you is a brides dream!

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The Photos

We are very fortunate to have two wonderful photographers in the family. Both Kevin and Ross lent us their expertise for the day and for this I will be forever grateful.

For us capturing the memories was one of the biggest priorities and so we were lucky to have two brilliant photographers on hand to help us do just this.

So, what does a minimalist wedding really mean?

Overall, the theme of this article is do what makes you happy. Your wedding day is a celebration of your commitment to each other. The people there should be happy to celebrate with you over a five-course meal, or a burger and fries. It is about the love, not the day.

We loved it that much we go back regularly on our anniversary to relive the memories:

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Back at the venue two years later

But if for you it is about the favours and limousines, do it, just make sure it is for the both of you, not to impress your guests. I love a big wedding, but only if the big wedding is there for the right reasons.

Oh and with the money you save, do more of what you love. For us, we went on a year of mini-honeymoons across Europe and furnished our flat with essentials.

Minimalist Insider : 25 Personal Things About Me

This year I will turn a quarter of a century old. I will be turning the same age as the first publically unveiled website and the SNES. It’s time for me to officially join Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence in the 25 club.

As I wave goodbye to my early twenties, I realise that I have learned a lot in these years. One particularly important education has been the last two years in which I have started to live a more meaningful life. By becoming ‘minimalist’ I have got past the things that cause discontent, and can now focus on making room for more experiences, travel and freedom.

I am naturally a more introverted person, happiest at home with my cats and a book. However since I have discovered Instagram and began to blog I have become happier with sharing my life details in the hope that it will influence just one more person to remove the excess and live a meaningful life. So this is also part of the reason behind this post.

I am fortunate to have a lovely and modest group of followers who read, share and contribute to the articles on this site. However I feel like although you might know my personal style and what my main priorities and goals are, you don’t know much about the person behind the blog.

So for those who have reached out with more curious comments and questions, here are twenty five things about me to help you gain some insight into my personality:

  1. My favourite time of the day is the morning, 6am – 8am to be exact. I love to wake up, enjoy the quiet serenity of this time of day, and write, read and empty my mind.
  2. I read History at University, however I work and I for the foreseeable future hope to always work in Digital.
  3. My only sentimental items that I now keep are my wedding photo albums and a small memories chest.
  4. I’m left handed.
  5. My favourite smell in the entire world is Vanilla. However I use lavender spray on my pillow to help me sleep soundly.
  6. My favourite bands are Radiohead, The XX and Bon Iver, although I also love Hip Hop, Rock and Classical music. When I am at home relaxing my radio is always set to Classical FM.
  7. I try to eat clean and my favourite foods to cook at home are spicy noodles with beansprouts, spinach and plenty of greens. However I like to listen to my cravings sometimes and indulge in a Chinese takeout or Sea Salt Kettle Crisps.
  8. I love coffee, although I weirdly don’t seem to suffer when I don’t drink it for a week abroad. I also don’t rely on it to wake up in the morning.
  9. I have two long haired kittens, Arthur and Margot, who are both turning two this year.
  10. I love to read, and I usually get through around 100 books a year. I don’t have a favourite genre, so recommend anything to me.
  11. I am naturally a red head.
  12. My favourite place to travel to is Italy, I love the food, the wine and the history.
  13. If I am watching TV I tend to choose a documentary over a sitcom or drama. Anything Louis Theroux or part of the Unreported World series is an instant hit with me.
  14. Talking about watching media, my favourite director is Wes Anderson. I love his clean, minimal style and the handful of Actors he regularly casts.
  15. Spinach is amazing, I put it in around 4-5 meals a week.
  16. I need to work on my patience. I think it is my biggest personal weakness at the moment.
  17. Although I am happily settled in York at the moment, I have lived in many different places over the last five years including Birmingham, Nottingham, Scotland, Belgium and Scarborough. I often miss the feeling of not knowing where’s next now I have bought a house.
  18. I love writing, and blogging is my way of channeling this passion. However I don’t think I would ever be able to write a book.
  19. My favourite day of the year is Bonfire Night.
  20. I have a condition called Endometriosis. I also suffer from migraines however since meditating more I have had only one this year. I don’t know if it is because of this, but if it is, that’s amazing.
  21. I love to take photos, especially candid caught in the moment snaps of friends and family when they’re laughing, having a good time or adventuring in another city.
  22. I got married on the 22nd of November to my best friend.
  23. I am an accredited life coach.
  24. I always sleep on the right hand side of the bed, even when alone.
  25. I found it really hard to think of twenty five things to fill this list!

Define Your Personal Style: Build Your Key Look

I have worked hard to ensure that each and every piece in my wardrobe has been carefully curated and selected to reflect my own personal style. This guarantees that all my wearables have been purchased because I know I will be able to wear and enjoy them again and again, and because they serve a purpose.

My personal style can be defined as Vintage & Safe Neutrals. I like delicate neutral clothing, in more traditional and formal cuts, that often have a vintage feel about them. It might be the cut, fabric or the way I obtained it, but I personally love a retro inspired wardrobe.

I no longer collect drawers full of clothing that I bought on a whim, purchased because they were on sale, or have in case one day I might wear them again.

I now spend less time in the morning worrying and wasting time on deciding what to wear. I don’t feel uncomfortable in any of my outfits (I used to regularly panic about wearing a too bright colour, too tight dress or fuller skirts) because now I only buy clothes that I know suit my body shape.

By having a personal style, you are well on your way to having a minimalist wardrobe, as every item within there will have a function and have been purchased with thought and purpose, and be worn again and again.

To refine my personal style I followed a number of practices along a period of weeks, however that wasn’t the end of my journey. To this day I am still working to develop my look, tastes and clothing palette to ensure it is functional, fashionable but also still exciting and reflects my personality.

Each month I review the steps below to ensure that I have a well-defined style, and it is still meeting my needs.

Step One: Declutter

Follow the de-cluttering process as described in this previous post here. You want to begin in a good place, and therefore you need to avoid sorting through clothes that don’t have a place in your closet.

I know many people see minimalism as a process of removing and reducing to clear space, only to begin collecting again until you need to repeat the decluttering down the line. I see a minimalist wardrobe as a way of removing the waste once, and shopping smartly going forward to ensure that clutter never collects again.

Step Two: 11 piece wardrobe

Go into your closet, wardrobe or drawers and pick out your favourite eleven items that you wear regularly and can be easily mixed and matched. Lay them out on your bed or floor and take a photo of them.

I did this yesterday, as you can see here:

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For the next week, I want you to wear these items and these items only and whilst doing so fill out this free printable style defining matrix.

Define your personal style

I want you to ask yourself:

  • What do these items all have in common? Are they a similar fabric, shape or colour?
  • Are they practical and is this why you wear them so regularly?
  • How did you obtain these pieces? Were they investments or did you just happen across them and buy them almost instantaneously?

To fill out the matrix, enter what top fabrics, shapes, colours and brands feature in your 11 favourite items. If you can, think of some key adjectives to describe what you’ve gathered to wear for the week.

When you have filled out the matrix you should have some key components already for what your personal style should look like.

Step Three: Favourite Items

Now go into your wardrobe again and pick out your three favourite items. The only rules here is that you need to have worn the items in the last six months. You might have more sentimental pieces, but right now we are looking for key influencers for your personal trend.

  • Add to the bottom of the printable style defining matrix one reason why you love each item. Try to be specific. Is it the fit, the colour or the reason you own it?

Step Four: Put together your own defined personal style

From the above exercises, I want you to make a personal style chart (free printable at the bottom of the page) that sums up you own personal style. Use this sheet to capture your thoughts and influence future purchasing decisions. By only buying from these guidelines, your wardrobe will reflect what styles, shapes and colours suit you best.

This means that you no longer need to waste precious time and money on those instant gratification buys, and can instead invest your earnings into something that enriches your life. Even if fashion is the thing that makes you happy, make sure you are buying pieces you’ll regularly wear by buying according to your defined style guide.

Step Five: Create and collaborate

Using your defined style, you can now plan for future purchases and developments in your own personal look by creating inspirational idea boards. Top tip – Pinterest is great for this however if you are more hands-on and creative the old cut out of magazines and stick into a scrapbook method never gets old.

Step Six: Document your personal minimalist style

When you have finally been through all of the above steps, I am pretty certain you will have discovered some great trends about the clothes you love, suit and are practical for your day-to-day life.

Document these findings in this final personal style matrix, and keep a copy to refer to for your future shopping adventures. It might differ from your one above as you will include ideas from your inspiration boards and scrapbooks and your three favourite items.

My Personal Style

 

Minimalist Style: A week’s worth of clothes

I describe my wardrobe as minimalist because it is a capsule collection of styles, shapes and colours that are perfectly synced to the way I live my life. Everything in there serves a purpose, and I repeatedly wear the few but fantastic items I have collected over the years.

The key to living a minimalist way of life is to ensure each and everything thing you do or own adds value, experiences and contributes to your personal happiness. Everything I own enriches my life or makes me happy, including the items hidden behind my wardrobe doors and drawers.

Think twice when it comes to buying those new shoes on sale for that instant gratification rush, or rushing out in a mad frenzy to stock your wardrobes with clothes for your upcoming short break. Instead, spend your time carefully curating a wardrobe that reflects your personal style, and will be yours to wear and wear again.

This way, you can avoid the ‘I have nothing to wear and nothing suits me’ meltdown we have all experienced twenty minutes before we are due out of the door.

One big misconception when it comes to having a minimalist wardrobe is that it should be limited to very few items. My wardrobe has a great range of key staples that match my own personal style and body shape, whilst allowing me the flexibility to dress for any occasion and not look the same each and every day.

Key steps to minimising your wardrobe

I personally got my wardrobe to it’s current minimalist state by following five key steps. I will talk through the first one today, but I will be posting resources and posts over the next five days on how to tackle each of the following steps.

  1. Having a first initial declutter

If you are looking to minimise your wardrobe, it’s likely that you are doing so to reduce the amount of clutter your clothes are currently taking up in your home.

Before you begin to define your own personal look and work towards having less but loving your clothes more, you need to get rid of the clutter.

Take two boxes, and work through your closets (one draw at a time if they are a little overwhelming). Bin stained, frayed or damaged clothes and recycle or sell on anything you haven’t worn in a year or you’re really not keen on. Including that dress you’re keeping ‘just in case’ you lose/gain weight, it suddenly fits right, or you need it for that particular night out (we all have one!)

  1. Defining my personal style – view the post to guide you through this step by clicking the image below or this link here:

Define your personal style

  1. Addressing the needs of my day-to-day life – ensure your clothes are purchased with your lifestyle in mind.

Assess Functional Minimalist Wardrobe

  1. Retackling that declutter, with a personal style and objective in mind
  2. Build it back up with a minimalist mind

To show you how a wardrobe can be minimised but still be fashionable, functional and exciting, I have laid out my clothes for the next week.

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This includes:

  • A striped loose off-the-shoulder top
  • Pink knitted jumper
  • Grey long sleeved t-shirt
  • Black cropped t-shirt
  • Black halter neck jumper
  • Black jeans
  • Nike leggings
  • Cropped work out top
  • Black playsuit
  • Black dungaree dress
  • Nightdress
  • White shorts

Accessories:

  • Marc Jacobs silver earrings
  • Skagen Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses

Not pictured – a weeks worth of underwear and the turtle neck jumper (as I am currently writing this post in it!)

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I will be wearing these 11 items over the next seven days and you can follow my outfit updates over on my Instagram. This capsule collection will take me from work, to weekday dinners, workouts and weekend adventures and parties.

My personal style

I have curated these key pieces over a couple of years, and they have become regular wardrobe staples, as I have purchased them to align with my own personal style.

I have a main colour palette that I rarely stray from, because I know these colours work for me and additionally as I tend to purchase in similar tones, I can mix and match my clothes easily.

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I go for the same shapes – skinny jeans or cigarette trousers on the bottom, and plain delicate fabrics for my tops. I work in an office with a casual dress code and therefore my clothes tend to be less risqué as then I can wear my whole wardrobe both in and out of work.

I don’t suit high waists, full skirts, complex patterns or loose fitted trousers, so I steer clear of these.

By bearing all this in mind when shopping, I have managed to put together the perfect minimalist wardrobe in which each item enriches my life and makes me happy. No more instant buys, and therefore more money for doing the things that matter!

 

Dubrovnik Travel Guide

Dubrovnik Travel Guide: An Luxury City Retreat

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Dubrovnik’s old town are the colours. Turquoise blues of the Adriatic, and the rich orange of the stone buildings encased by the impressive city walls. You know instantly that you have happened upon somewhere unique, incredible and that you will never forget.

When to go

We travelled in June, and found that the timing was perfect. The temperature was ideal, the sea warm enough to swim and the crowds were manageable. I had previously read that late July through to the end of August should be avoided if possible as the prices increase and the tourist levels boom.

How to get there

We flew with British Airways from London for a return super saver price of just £40 each. I would wholly recommend BA for their comfortable cabins, complimentary refreshments onboard and great service. However you can also fly with many other operators from other parts of the UK for great prices.

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What to see

Inside the city walls, you will find a huge number of attractions lining the beautiful old town’s marble streets. Spend an hour after entering through either of the impressive arched gates wandering up and down the narrow alleys and stone steps taking in the hidden sights of the city.

I would wholly recommend the city walls walk. From the top of this towering fortification you can leisurely wander for two to three hours, and take in incredible views of the historic city from above. Stop a third of the way round at the bar at the north of the walk for a drink and to take in the views of the local ‘cursed’ island of Lokrum and the never-ending azure blue sea.

Top Tip: You can get a really great value ‘3-day city pass’ from the tourist information offices which costs just 200 kuna (around £21) and this includes the wall tour, entrance to eight historical sites in the walls including the cultural palace and 10 bus rides.

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Within the city there are many museums, restaurants and shopping opportunities to please all manner of tourists no matter what their itinerary. When your feet are aching from all the exploring, take a break in the cliff-side Buza Bar, and enjoy a cold beer before using the opportunity and perfect location to launch yourself into the Adriatic from the white stone cliffs.

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Jumping off the Buza Bar cliffs

Beaches and bars

Outside of the city, take the number 6 bus to the beaches of Babin Kuk. Here sun-seekers and those wanting hours of relaxation will not be disappointed.

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Coral Beach Club

We personally enjoyed the delights of the incredible Coral Beach Club for three days during our trip, and I would really recommend it to anyone visiting Dubrovnik. The staff are warm and welcoming, the loungers in the bar area are soft, luxurious and free for paying guests, and the drinks are reasonable (around £2.50 for a large beer). You can easily spend hours here sipping on local cocktails and slowly eating your way through their delicious seafood menu. It also is a blue flag beach meaning you can break up the heat with a dip into the shimmering waters. If you visit the city, you must go and spend some sun seeking hours here.

At night, start your evening off right with a visit to Cave Bar More, a hidden gem accessed by walking along the cliff coastline on the West of Babin Kuk. This bar has a fantastic outside terrace, and inside the cave bar really does not disappoint. The stalagmites shimmer from the dotted spotlights in the ceiling of the cave, and you can enjoy a fresh cocktail whilst stood on a glass floor looking right down into the deep caverns. Plus, considering the views and location, the prices are remarkably reasonable.

Finally, escape from the slightly inflated prices of Dubrovnik, in comparison to the rest of Croatia, by enjoying a cool glass of wine at the Orsan Yacht Club on the East coast of Babin Kuk overlooking one of the larger ports in Dubrovnik. This white tabled gem of a find is reasonable, serves some of the best foods in the city and is a quiet hidden spot to retreat to on your evenings.

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Dubrovnik is a fantastic location for historic sights, pristine beaches and delicious food all enjoyed best under the warm summer sun. Visit now and I promise it will be magical.

A Minimal Millennial – Six Ways to Live With Less

I have spent the last 18 months simplifying my life. As a result, I have been enjoying my experiences, my lifestyle and my choices way more.

As a young twenty something, I find more and more that I am surrounded by the need for ‘more’. More success in the workplace, more technology to help me with my everyday activities, more clothes to make me look better, more to show on social media, and the list goes on.

I found that by forever looking at what I could be doing, and not focusing on the great things I was doing, I became blind to the enjoyment I got with achievements, purchases and adventures. The thing was, it was never enough. I was always comparing it to someone else’s greater achievements and purchases on social media, in real life and on the television.

It was only when I moved house for the third time in the same amount of years, once again hauling boxes and boxes of things up and down stairs, that I started to think about what I was collecting. Why was I spending so much money on things, and missing out on the important experiences I could be having whilst I was still young.

I set about simplifying my life in six different areas, and I felt balanced and happier within a few short weeks. You can easily do this too, and start focusing your attention on what is important once again.

  1. Material Possessions.

I realised that if I was really going to minimise my life successfully, I would need to start by decluttering my home. I didn’t go crazy and start binning items left right and centre (though I was tempted). Instead, I did it in several easy steps.

  • Firstly, I did a tour of the house with three boxes. Bin, Charity and Rehome. Anything I hadn’t used in over a year, that didn’t have sentimental value, had to go into one of these boxes. I will admit I kept quite a bit at this stage as I still had the ‘but what if I need it to do x, y and z mind set’.
  • I waited two weeks before doing it again, and this time I tried to be a little stronger. Did I really need copies of the last two years’ of Vogue magazines? Yes I might have flicked through them now and then, but was it really something I couldn’t find online if I needed to?
  • Next, I tackled the wardrobe. Goodbye old holey leggings that I kept ‘in case’ I did any decorating. You will soon notice a theme here. At this point, I removed everything I hadn’t worn in a year (aside from my couple of ball gowns and wedding dress) and set a reminder to come back and have another look a few months down the line.
  • Kitchen items. I had so many needless utensils, plates and measuring spoons. Boxed up and given to a charity store.
  • I now go back one a month, just to check, do I really need all of this?

If you take the time over a few months to declutter your home, you will really feel the benefit of living in a fuss free environment. It will also free up your purse strings as you stop buying the extra pieces of home clutter that you really don’t need. You just want.

I now have the spare finances to travel more, something that has always been really important to me. More memories, less materialism. It seems like a fair trade off to me.

Less things, more money and time to travel.

Less things, more money and time to travel – Sardinia, 2015.

  1. Diet

I am not saying that I have the best diet in the world, I am all too aware that I am easily swayed by the temptation of a Chinese takeaway on a Friday. One thing I can say though is that I have minimised my consumption of overly processed foods compared to what I used to eat, and the results have been great.

I live by a few simple rules.

  • Less dairy (being Lactose intolerant certainly helps here) however I have encouraged my husband to do the same, and he has noticed some great benefits.
  • As little sugar as possible. Avoiding this sweet additive is hard, but if you need any encouragement as to why you should, I would fully recommend watching Jamie Oliver’s recent documentary.
  • Go green. More cabbage, more kale. Got to love the green veggies.
  • Ditch the packaged products as much as possible. I find that however good they may taste at the time, they make you feel worse for days after. Put in that little extra effort to eat something homemade.

By minimising your intake of processed foods and sugars, you will notice an improved energy level and that you are healthier and happier overall. Try just cutting out one item today, and going from there.

  1. Time for you

Mornings are, and have always been, my favourite part of the day. I find that it is incredibly important to have some time in the morning to do something that matters to me. This is why I have a morning routine that I quite firmly stick to. This way, every day, I know no matter what happens after I have left the house, I know I have achieved something important to me.

I always try to fit in Yoga before I leave the house. It is a time to reflect, exercise and meditate. My husband wakes up even earlier and dedicates his time to writing and digital art. He never used to be a morning person, now he feels that it is his most productive time in the day.

Write down three things that would make your morning better, and start doing them each day. Give yourself that extra hour to focus some time on you. You deserve it.

  1. Pressure

In 2015, people are feeling more under pressure than ever before. Speak to people around you today, I can assure you that at least 50% of them are feeling pressured or stressed in some way.

Firstly, give those stressed people an ear and listen to them and their worries. Then secondly, assess how you are going to escape the ever growing pressure that you face on a daily basis.

I used to feel stressed about a whole range of things. Why do I not look like the women on the covers of Vogue.

Why am I driving this car when ‘x’ over there has a newer shiner model, am I supposed to have that car too?

Why haven’t I been promoted yet. Why don’t I look like that in a bikini. When will I travel there.

When I started to live more minimally, I began to realise that I didn’t care about having the newest material item, I just wanted others to know I had it. I put a stop to wanting something to alleviate pressures I was constructing in my own mind.

I came to realise, that although people may judge me on a day to day basis, they spend more time worrying about their own problems and pressures to give much thought to mine. I decided that I was no longer going to do anything that I felt I ‘needed’ to do to be achieving, but only things I wanted to do.

Yes, I still feel pressured on a daily basis when I see a Instagram photo of a girl in a gorgeous dress, and yes you can’t help but compare .However now I take a minute to take myself away from that feeling and remember what matters to me. £500 on that gorgeous dress so I can wear it and Instagram it too, or £500 travelling and making new memories? The choice is easy.

Nowadays, I feel that my life is more perfect even though I have less. And that’s the beauty of living without pressures.

  1. Work

This topic leads on from the above, as really these days we all feel so ‘pressured’ to do well at work and in the office, we lose sight of what really matters to us.

I have found it important to bear one phrase in mind when it comes to work.

‘If it is causing you distress or to be unhappy, it’s not worth it’

There are too many people in their early twenties, clinging on to jobs that make them miserable because they think there’s no other option. Don’t get yourself stuck in a rut so early on in life.

I love my job, and I think that this helps me feel positive on a daily basis. You should love your job too.

If we are spending eight or more hours a day doing something that makes us miserable or stressed, we are causing damage to our wellbeing. Put in the extra effort now to be where you want to be, and you will see an impact on your life and wellbeing almost instantly.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

  1. Relationships

Take ten minutes to have a good look at the people in your life. Then do these simple things to minimise the influence of negative people around you.

  1. Go through your social media feeds, and remove anyone you are keeping there ‘because you think you should’. Life is too short for this.
  2. Categorise the people in your life into three areas. The good, the bad and the neutral. Spend most of your time with the good and build on meaningful relationships with these. The bad, don’t dwell on them, and don’t focus your energies on thinking about them.

We spend far too much time worrying about what others think to focus on what we are thinking. Care less to experience more.

Let me know if you make any of these changes and the impact they have on you. Start putting yourself first today!

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Zadar: Boutique City Break on a Budget

The medieval port of Zadar has everything you would want from a short European city break. Rich in history and relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to Croatian current hot spots such as Dubrovnik and Hvar, the marble city of Zadar is a northern gem.

There are several beaches close to the historic city centre, and plenty of sites to see including the Roman Forum, Byzantine churches and nightclubs sprawled across impressive parks hidden amongst the ancient ruins.

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Why You Need To Stop Wondering ‘What If’

Life is filled with rewarding moments and hard choices. It is rarely predictable and often when you feel like you are on-track, a curveball can easily have you questioning everything all over again.

Let me put this into context. The reason this post came about was because I was recently asked for an interview ‘where do I see myself in five years?’

The difficulty was that although I have visions of what I think I would like my life to look like in five years, at the same time, I am forever also plagued by the question ‘what if?’

In five years I hope to still be enjoying my job, climbing that corporate ladder, writing and getting some work published, travelling far, and happily married.

However I also have visions alongside this of living the best domestic life I can. Living in a rural cottage, with goats, chickens and dogs to add to our existing furry family. I regularly take time out to bake, cook and create wholesome rustic meals that we share as a two (maybe even three if we have decided to start a family by then). I sit at the old farmhouse kitchen table writing away and pouring my thoughts into a blog, book or something bigger. Oh and my cottage is filled with William Morris patterns, because a girl can dream right?

But then five years away is a long time, and although this imagery of life in my early thirties seems pretty wonderful, it’s then very easy to throw in the dreaded curveball of ‘what if?’

What if I wanted to do all this but in a different country? What if we do get a dog and all these animals, could we then still travel as much? What if we start a family and therefore the writing and career goals need to change? What if my career takes me on a different path?

As soon as I start thinking about this, I can’t help but feeling a little unsettled and worried.

It’s great to have a five-year plan, and to focus on your goals, but life often doesn’t go accordingly to plan.

But then, I look back and think what did I expect to have achieved by my late twenties, five years before now?

If I am being honest, I couldn’t have really predicted the outcome. We are settled in and have bought a house in a city that until four years ago, I had never visited. My job is hugely different to what I thought it would be, in a great way. I have visited countries I didn’t even have on my bucket list, and decided against places I did. Oh, and we have two cats when I always thought I was only going to get dogs.

Part of me definitely thought I would feel by now that I knew what I was doing at all times, a proper ‘adult’. To be honest, I don’t think that this ever feels like the case for anyone. If it does for you, please let me know how to get there!

What has remained fluid however is my longer term priorities, hopes and dreams. I still live minimally, write often, travel as much as possible, spend quality time with my wonderful husband, friends and family and I work hard and enjoy the career path that I chose to follow.

Although life certainly doesn’t look like I predicted five years ago, I am very satisfied with the shape it has taken.

Five Years Ago

Perhaps a lesson here is that as long as whatever you decide to do, as long as it doesn’t detract from your happiness, and contributes to one of your main priorities, it doesn’t matter ‘what if’.

There’s always going to be the unexpected, the curveballs, the ups and downs, but at the end of the day, that’s what makes life a journey rather than a race to have it all at the end.

For now, I am happy to just be a passenger on this journey as long as in five years it delivers me to the destination where I still write, spend time with my family, get to travel, and have a pretty decent career.

Visions are fantastic, but sometimes surprises are all that little more exciting.

 

 

 

 

Seven Simple Things I Appreciate Right Now

As life goes by so quickly, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the chaos of feeling busy. Often I find myself counting down to my next deadline, adventure or concrete plans, and forgetting about the simple and minimal moments that make up a standard day.

To combat the sensation of blinking and it feeling like half a year has gone by, I try to focus on the little things I appreciate each and every day. Yes, even those grey and slow days, that make my life what it is today.

So here are 10 little things which I find enrich my day to day. They make the small moments memorable, and each day feel like a success.

The feeling and smell of newly washed bedding

Nothing feels better than sinking into warm, freshly washed bedding at the end of a long day. The softness, the smell, the cosiness. If I have had a hard week, I take a minute to just appreciate this feeling rather than wishing the days away.

Having time to write

I write my blog because I just love to put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad to be precise). The feeling of words flowing and ideas joining up is something I will always appreciate. Time slows down when I curate and write, allowing me to enjoy my day that little bit more. Although I have been lucky to have several people read my posts on a regular basis, I would keep writing even if I had no audience.

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My bedtime routine

I am a big fan of a bedtime routine for adults. Every night I go to sleep four things remain consistent. Lavender sleep spray filling the air, a silk eye-mask to allow myself to really slip into deep sleep, storm or rain white noise sounds playing, and absolutely zero phones or laptops near the bed or used half an hour before.

I appreciate this routine, as sleep is a big deal for me. Each night, I take time to reflect on the day just passed, and focus on what I want to achieve tomorrow. A good nights’ sleep sets me up to be the best I can be in order to achieve my goals.

Cuddles with my cats

Nothing makes you appreciate life’s little moments more, than a cuddle from your furry friend.

A good book

I just love getting lost in a good book. Recent one’s I have read which I couldn’t recommend more include:

  • Into Thin Air
  • All The Money In The World
  • Homo Deus
  • One Second After

The smell as you open up a new book. The anticipation of adventure, and the opportunity to immerse yourself into somebody else’s world. When life feels chaotic, I try and stop, read, and reflect. It puts a lot back into perspective.

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Cooking

When you have had one of ‘those days’, cooking is a great way to take back some time and create something brilliant to turn the feeling around. Fresh vegetables, the smell of combining delicious spices and aromatics together, and of course, the finished result that you get to savour and enjoy!

I know this helps me appreciate the days in between the big events in life, as I still regularly think about good meals I have cooked and how to make them again on a daily basis!

Recipes I am loving right now include (click to open):

Falafels – served with a fresh side salad

Lentil Dal 

Thai Vermicilli

Potato and Rosemary Focaccia – served with homemade soup (tomato and chilli pairs really well!)

Tending to our indoor garden

Last year, my husband started to sneak home with a new houseplant on what felt like a weekly basis. Fast forward and we have an orchid, two peace lillies, a Lemon Plant, Tomato Plant, Chilli Plant, Two Bonsai’s and several succulents all inside our small abode. Not to mention the giant leafed half tree in the bedroom which is almost taller than me.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with all this greenery, however now I love to tend to them, water them and watch them grow each day. I really appreciate our little indoor greenhouse and the simple pleasure it gives me as I try my best to keep all these plants alive!

What simple things do you appreciate on a regular basis? Please share in the comments below.

 

Travel Bug Confessions: How I Plan & Book My Holidays

It will be no surprise if you know me well, follow me on Instagram, or you are a regular blog reader, that I absolutely love to travel and explore. I feel as though nearly half my life since I left home has been spent on airplanes, boats or cars.

From camping to local overnight breaks or once in a lifetime adventures, I crave them all. For me personally, nothing feels better than the opportunity to explore and discover all that is brilliant about a place or culture that you have never experienced before. I feel fortunate that I am able to regularly do something I truly love and get so much happiness from.

In an average year, I will likely take:

  • Two longer haul adventures (flights over 6 hours)
  • Three city breaks
  • Three to four UK breaks
  • Camping at least once

The reason I am sharing this post is that often I will be asked how I manage to fit in, afford, and plan so much travel every year whilst still holding down a full-time job and living. It’s not intended to be an essay to brag about my well-travelled soul, so if reading about how to explore more isn’t your cup of tea, I don’t mind if you don’t want to read on.

So below, I am going to debunk some regular travel ‘myths’ and also share my top tips on how you too can really adventure more, if you have the travel bug too!

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I have no time to travel

Because I am away regularly, people often assume that I either don’t work, or have some extraordinary leave package. Although my employer is generous with their leave policy, I don’t get bounds more than the average full-time worker and I definitely do have a job.

What I have discovered is that if travelling really is your ‘thing’, you will be able to make time for it. For me, it was working out what my five priorities were in life. Then, as long as most of my time was spent fulfilling one of those, I would be happier and more content.

Try not to take time off to do gardening or decorating if you really don’t have to. It takes us longer to renovate a room as we just use weekends, but I would rather it take four weeks and get to travel then take five days and lose an opportunity to explore.

The worst thing you can do with time is have nothing planned and accrue your leave and end up just taking ad-hoc long weekends near the end of the year. I am guilty of this, I have done it before, and although at time the break feels amazing, I often see it as a missed opportunity when I look back.

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Travelling is too expensive          

So this leads me onto the next common question I get. Okay so you have got plenty of leave put aside for travelling, but how on earth do you afford all your trips?!

Firstly, I find this question quite an interesting one. It seems travelling is one of the only ‘things’ that where we are happy to challenge someone’s financial and budgeting situation. You wouldn’t dream of saying to someone, ‘nice new house, how on earth did you afford that?!’ or ‘another expensive haircut, just eight weeks after the last?! Wow you must be loaded’.

However I do regularly get this question, and in the spirit of debunking travel myths, I am happy to be open and honest about how we fund our adventures.

Step One – Work.

We are both full-time workers in jobs we are passionate about and work hard at, and although I wish I was paid to travel alongside my main job, I am not. Some influencers you may see on social media may have this blessing, but this post is for anyone else with a less curated social media feed that wants to know how they can explore more whilst funding it.

Step Two – Be minimalist with your money

I live a fairly minimalist life, so rather than buying new clothes, the fanciest car or the biggest house our money will stretch to, we choose to instead live way below our means. By making this conscious choice, to not ever ‘need’ anything material, and be happy with what we have and not keep up with the Joneses, wasn’t easy. Every piece of advertising and media will try and convince you otherwise.

It has been a four-year journey, but it has meant we have more disposable income for the things which really do make us happy. For things we remember and cherish. Travelling, experiences with friends and family, and time to pursue our hobbies.

If you find you want to travel more, but can’t work out how, list all the things you have purchased over the last two months. Now think of how many of those you ‘needed’ to exist. How many made you happy, and how many looking back you probably wouldn’t buy again. Include your takeaway coffees and more in this. Everything.

Step Three – Shop for deals

When booking a trip I go through a process. It begins with where I want to go. If I don’t mind, and just want some sun, then I use SkyScanner to find me the best option in a month when I can go, and then AirBnB and booking.com to find accommodation. Oh and I really try and avoid anywhere I have seen many travel writers or bloggers heading to over the last year, as I know that’s going to be pricey. I can always go the year after when a new destination is ‘in’.

This route is obviously the most purse friendly, as you follow the deals. If you are quite open to where you want to explore, you can get several shorter breaks in a year using this method. This is what we do for our city breaks three times a year.

If I however have a set destination in mind, I set up flight alerts usually around three months before I HAVE to book to inform me of flash sales and deals. This way, I am ready to secure the best price when it pops up.

Finally, when booking accommodation I tend to go with somewhere with a cancellation waiver, and then check regularly in the run up to my stay for any last minute price drops or better options. This way, you can cancel without a fee and bag a bargain at the same time, whilst knowing you have a reserve booked just in case!

Lastly, although we all love the internet for travel deals, sometimes the agents can be your best friends for longer haul trips. STA Travel and NetFlights have both found better deals than me in the past for my trips. All I did was call and give them some details, then they do the bit you don’t have the time for (searching all options to get the best prices!) and call you back when they find it for you to book.

Finally, when it comes to Christmas or Birthdays and people want to get you a gift, I tend to ask for vouchers for travel over something material. These can bring down the cost of any adventure quite substantially.

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I don’t know where to go

This is something I hear often. How do you choose where to go to next?

As you can see from the above, sometimes I don’t, I just let the airlines pricing algorithms tempt me. Otherwise, I use my travel bucket list which I am slowly working my way through for inspiration.

Follow top travellers on social media, talk to your friends and family to get top destination tips, and always remain open-minded!

Overall, if travelling is something you truly are passionate about, and you have decided you want to do more, then my best advice is save, book it, and get going. Don’t let life, a new pair of shoes which cost the same as a flight, or any worries get in the way.

You won’t look back.

 

 

Prague Travel – Guide To The City

Visiting Prague

If you are looking for a city break that combines rich and impressive architecture, romantic cobbled backstreets, heaps of history and good food and beer, then you don’t need to look any further than the Czech capital.

Prague is easily one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and a haven for explorers and romantics alike. A city which feels like it is built on a maze of endless hidden backstreets, there’s a new underground bar, gothic church or cute café around every corner.

The city can be filled with people in the summer. It was the fifth most visited tourist destination in Europe in 2017, though after spending some time there, it doesn’t really come as a surprise when you hear that.

Therefore, is it in winter when I believe Prague looks truly magical and is best visited. Though do wrap up warm, as temperatures regularly drop down to the minus figures in the early months of the year.

The snow falling down onto the Charles’ Bridge is a beautiful sight to take in, whilst wrapped up in a café just over the banks. The spires, towers and heights of Prague Castle looks particularly haunting in the cold. Grab a hot wine to go, and take in each of the different styles of building located within the grounds.

If you are there for a short city break, there are a few sights, tastes and experiences that could really enrich your stay.

Snow in Prague Castle

Take in the sights of Prague

Old Town Square is a must-see, especially to take in the impressive astronomical clock. However don’t dwell too long here. Instead, embrace your spirit of exploration and wander aimlessly down any of the backstreets surrounding the town centre. You will be spoilt for choice when you come across the endless ancient churches, cosy bars and historic statues which seem to be on every other corner.

You can easily lose half a day exploring Prague Castle and the Ornate St Vitus Cathedral. I would wholly recommend packing a warm coffee flask or a bottle of fizz if the weather is warmer, and enjoying it from one of the many viewpoints looking out over Prague and the river Vltava. Take half an hour to pause and take in the incredible views of all the eclectic architecture from the city below.

Lastly, I couldn’t recommend a night-time city tour by GetYourGuide enough. It was the best way to discover a city away from the tourist filled centre, and discover much more about the history in the Czech Republic.

Charles Bridge Prague City

Eat and Drink – What are the best restaurants in Prague?

As you wander down the endless cobbled back streets, or over the Charles Bridge, do it while savouring one of the famous Czech Republic Donuts, the Trdlenik (yes, I had to Google how to spell that).

A cinnamon and sugar flavoured donut cone, filled with rich chocolate and ice cream. They are the future of city-based delicacies.

When it comes for something more substantial, Prague has more than its fair share of cosy cafes, atmospheric underground restaurants and traditional Czech beer halls. Restaurant U Mlynáře, located on the Castle side of the river, serves up traditional warm Czech food, in addition to its own delicious brewed at source beer. It’s a must for a no-frills but heart (and body if you’re travelling in the winter) warming meal.

The Tavern by Seven Swabians is a must visit, although I would advise going for lunch or later drinks, if you want to avoid the medieval-style entertainment and banquets regularly attended by stag and hen parties. It’s located in a lower level cave, with long rustic tables, delicious food and a wide range of beers. The dim candle lit rooms make you feel like you are truly immersed in the history of the city.

Alternatively, if you are all Goulash and dumpling-ed out, then you must try Maly Buddha. This Asian restaurant has endless atmosphere, from low lighting, incense burning and traditional decorations adorning the walls. This was easily our favourite meal which we ate whilst in Prague, and it was a steal for what we paid. The Thai vermicelli and the vegetable spring rolls are truly delicious. Do be warned though, they only take cash, however don’t worry if you get caught out like we did, there’s an ATM just around the corner.

Old Town Square Prague

Top Tips – Prague

The city itself has so much to offer just by wandering around on foot, so make sure you leave aside a half day to just get purposely lost in the old town.

We found that the mini-markets were overpriced in a city that is known for being purse-friendly, and it was much cheaper to get food, service and a drink in a small café or bar.

In winter it can get really very cold, so pack layers upon layers.

Visit the Strahov Library, it’s such an impressive place to explore, and can easily be reached from Prague Castle.

Stay on the Prague Castle side of the bridge. There’s some great places to eat, drink and relax, including restaurants overlooking the river and hidden down old passageways.

Have you ever visited Prague, or do you plan to soon? Share your top tips in the comments below and we will feature the best ones on the blog.

Stop Living Perfectly, And Start Living Authentically

It’s too easy to fall into the trappings of living a ‘perfect’ life, a ‘busy’ life. Ensuring you are ticking off all the widely accepted milestones of success we aspire towards as a society.

The perfect home that looks like it could feature in an interiors glossy magazine. The job title and promotion you’ve worked towards for years. Pristine clean housekeeping skills, a fantastic and full social life. No time for anything because you’re so ‘busy’. The list goes on.

I know when I have been falling into the trap of trying to live perfectly instead of authentically when I start to feel detached from doing the things I really love. The things that enrich my life and make me truly happy. Not the material things which bring status, a short-lived burst of happiness and can easily be one-upped by the next person living more perfectly than you.

When I actually start to feel too busy, too stressed or too overwhelmed.

If you take five minutes to reflect over the last week, do you feel that you have been filling each moment of your days with things you truly enjoy? Things that really make you happy?

I have been so detached from living authentically recently I have not written a blog, article or content in over three weeks. I know my day to day priorities are not right when I can’t find time to do the things I enjoy the most.

I can sense if a person is living authentically because from the moment I meet them, listen to them, follow their updates on social media, they all feel so happy, true and refreshingly real.

You know the kind of person I am talking about. The person who knows what they enjoy in life, and they live with these priorities in mind.

If you are feeling that you are a little overwhelmed, too busy to fill your days with the things that matter to you, or in a bit of a rut, the steps below might help you get back on track.

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Work out what your five main priorities are

You can’t make sure you dedicate your time and energy to the things that matter if you don’t know what they are. Take ten minutes to list everything that makes you seriously happy. I am talking huge grin, gets you out of bed in the morning, contagiously happy.

To help you out, I have listed my top five:

  • Spending quality time and making memories with my husband, cats, family and friends
  • Having time to write
  • Travelling and seeing as much of the world as possible
  • Reading
  • Putting my health first

Ensure you put in time to work towards these priorities each and every day

I know you’re busy. We all are. But we should never be too busy to fill our lives with the things that truly matter to us. Imagine looking back over the last month and not being able to pick out ten key moments you really enjoyed. You won’t get that time again. So make sure you’re putting aside time for the things which really matter to you. If you don’t have the time to do that, look at what you’re doing instead and see if it really needs your focus.

I feel happier, more content and more wholesome when my days are spent on my priorities. So I need to make sure I spend more time doing just that. If reading a book for twenty minutes a day comes over a perfectly clean house that actually, people don’t really care too much about, I am happy with that.

Realise it’s okay to do nothing

Too often when we are feeling overwhelmed or a little burnt out, it’s because we haven’t actually taken any time for ourselves. Time to just be. Time to do nothing.

If you are feeling that you haven’t had the time to do the things you love recently, take a reset day. I still struggle with this concept, it feels wrong to nap, read when there’s decorating to be done, or just go away for an evening when I have a mountain on my to-do list. But I am getting better at it.

Review your goals and what you really want

Regularly we don’t feel like we are achieving in life because we haven’t ticked off an impressive goal recently, or invested in something to show and share with others.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of creating false expectations for yourself. The need for a new promotion at work, not because you want it, but because you think that’s a sign of success. The need for the latest model of car even though yours works perfectly. Don’t look back in twenty years’ time and wish you’d spent your money, or your time differently. Get rid of false expectations, live only in a way that makes you happy.

At the end of the day, we are all too worried about how other people perceive us, when in reality, we should just be focusing on how we perceive ourselves.

If you can say that you make conscious choices each day which allow you to get the most out of life, make you happy and allow you to work towards your main priorities, that’s all that matters.

Where your weeks are filled with more memories, moments and experiences than ‘must-do’s, checklists and chores’.

And that’s living more authentically, rather than a standard tick all the boxes perfect life.

And that leaves me with one of my favourite quotes:

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