Spring Self-Care Ideas!

Hey friends!

Spring is here, and it’s time to shake off that seasonal depression and get back into our normal routines. This last winter was hard on all of us, I’m sure — between COVID lockdowns, the usual seasonal depression and all the other craziness in the world, it’s been a bit of a wild ride. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m personally ready to start feeling a little more normal again — although, I feel its going to take some work to get there.

One of my favourite ways to improve my mental health, or just my life in general, is to plan and take part in a little self-care. Personally, I’m of the belief that self care is more than just spa days and movie nights (although those both count as self-care as well, and I love both very much!). In my eyes, self care is anything that improves your life, really. However, I truly believe the best form of self-care is self-discipline. Holding yourself accountable, staying on top of things, and knowing when to take breaks are all important to living a healthy and balanced life. That being said, I’ve compiled a little spring-specific list of self care ideas ranging from healthy lifestyle choices, ways to keep yourself organized, to good old-fashioned ways to relax and unwind. That way, no matter what kind of self-care you’ve been needing in your life this spring, you’ll find something just for you on this list!

Go For A Walk

Maybe I’m a hypocrite for adding this one first, since people are always telling me to get out of my house and go for walks more but I opted to avoid doing so all winter long — until now! It can be kind of hard to motivate yourself to get up and head out when you’re feeling crappy (trust me, I know) but spring is such a beautiful (and short) season, so you might as well take advantage of it while you can! This year, since we’re all still locked in, it’s kind of easy to totally miss the whole season entirely if you don’t make a point of going outside and enjoying it — which happened to me last year. I’ve decided to promise myself I won’t miss it again (cherry blossom season is one of my favourites, after all — no point in missing out on it two years in a row!).

Have a Self-Date in the Park

This is another great way to take advantage of spring weather, even if you’re not feeling up for walking. Next time there’s a particularly nice and warm day where you live, go ahead and plan out a nice day out for yourself! Pack a blanket, some lunch, some fancy drinks such as tea, mocktails, cocktails or whatever it is you love, and activities and anything else you want to spend your day doing! If you’re really feeling like going all-out, you can even dress up a little or do some fancy makeup — you don’t get many opportunities to do either anymore since lockdowns began, so you might as well, right?

Treat Yourself to Some New Spring Clothes

One of the best forms of self-care is retail therapy, IMO. Not only does it feel great to have some new items to look forward to wearing out, but if you shop online it’s always great to have something to look forward to when your package arrives. I’m really looking forward to adding some new items to my wardrobe this spring, personally — it’s been a while since I felt really, truly nice when I’ve left the house honestly, as I never get to dress up much anymore. When I do, a lot of my clothes feel pretty old and tired — especially since a lot of them have gotten a little tighter over the last year. I can’t wait to get a couple nice, new outfits and hopefully get the chance to get all dressed up and feel my best for the first time in a while sometime soon. Of course, whatever you feel like treating yourself to is up to you — maybe its clothes, or perhaps it’s makeup, home decor, accessories, shoes, wigs — whatever it is you’ve been needing in your life!

Spring Clean Your Home

Yes, okay, I totally posted about this one last week — but it really is a great way to feel you’re getting a fresh start. Its a good way to reduce the stress of clutter, be productive — and it can be fun, too! If you’re in the mood to do a big clean out of your home, feel free to make a day of it — complete with a playlist, some snacks, and whatever else makes cleaning fun to you. And of course, feel free to check out my ultimate spring cleaning guide if you need a good idea of where to start!

Take Up A New Form Of Exercise

Working out is arguably one of the best things you can do for your mental health (and, obviously, your physical well-being) — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to start. For those of us who’ve spent this winter being a little (or very) sedentary, or for others who are looking to switch things up, why not give a new workout a try? Depending on what COVID lockdowns are looking like in your city, you can get yourself a gym membership or take a couple classes somewhere local — or you can just try something new at home! Even if you don’t have in-person workout options right now, there’s plenty of instructional videos out there you can follow. Whether you’re hoping to try yoga, HIIT, Zumba, dance, calisthenics, or whatever comes to mind, you’ll be able to find a video to help you get started and shake up your regular (or non-existent, no judgement here) workout routine!

Try A New Hobby

What’s a skill you’ve been hoping to try your hand at, but haven’t gotten around to yet? Perhaps you’ve been looking to get into art, photography, writing, dancing, music, reading, baking, candle-making… who knows, really? If you’ve been thinking about trying something new and have been putting it off, no matter what your reason, this is your sign! Start it now. Why not? If you start today, you’ll have one day’s more experience than if you started tomorrow. Just go for it. (And if starting is a little daunting, you can always check out my post on Three Steps To Mastering Any Skill to help set you on the right path!).

Start Meditating

If meditating is something you haven’t tried out before, I’d totally recommend giving it a go. A lot of people don’t really see the point until they try it for themselves. It really does help to ground you, release anxiety and clear your mind. It may take a couple of tries to really get the hang of it, but I’d recommend keeping at it — what’s the harm, right? There’s endless guided meditation videos on Youtube, meditation apps, on Spotify, and more — so there’s no shortage of free resources, especially if you’re new to the practice!

Plan A Classic Self-Care Day

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, why not take the day off? If you’re hoping to make the most of it, you can plan out a full day of relaxing activities that you know you’ll love. (After all, I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of spending my days off lying around doing nothing if I don’t have ideas in mind). This is a classic option that’s always a great way to deal with built-up stress. If you don’t really know where to start, no worries! You can check out my previous Fall Self-Care Night Ideas, but I’m sure you already have an idea or two in mind of what you’d like to spend your next day off doing anyway!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. The last few weeks have been a little rough — COVID restrictions have been a little on-again, off again — perhaps I was getting a bit ahead of myself, but I did think things were going to be a little more normal by now than they are. I’ve also been getting busier, though, so life is slowly returning to normal (finally, right?). Apart from that, life has just been continuing on as normal… sometimes I feel a little ramble-y around the ends of my posts, since I honestly never have too much news to share. I did, however, spend my entire week binge-reading Attack on Titan (as I was too impatient to wait a whole year to find out how the show ended, since it is my favourite) so I guess there’s that! Apart from that though, things are just about the same as always — but is that really a bad thing? It may not be exciting, but I guess it’s better to have things be boring than it is the have them be bad. At the end of the day, we have that to be thankful for, right?

Much love,

Meredith

My Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide!

Hey friends!

Soooo, it’s officially April and spring is finally upon us. After this last year, it really feels like it’s time to shed the weight of 2020 and get ready for a fresh new start — and what better way to do that than a good, old-fashioned spring cleaning? I kind of love clearing out my home each spring — it really helps me feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Every year when I end up spring cleaning, I kind of end up making a whole event out of it — I’ll spend one or two days fully dedicated to just cleaning up my space. It can be daunting to take on such a big task if you don’t really know where to start — but don’t fret, because that’s exactly what this guide is for! There’s four main ways I freshen up my space each spring — deep cleaning, de-cluttering, reorganizing, and “cleansing the vibe”, so to speak. In this guide, I’ve broken down my usual game plan into twelve simple steps (don’t worry if that sounds crazy to you — a lot of the steps are super short, so it’s not as insurmountable as it sounds). This way, you can follow along, find new advice, or rework my plan into your own personalized cleaning schedule and get spring clean-ready!

Air Out Your Home

To start, open up all the windows in your house that you can and get some good fresh air circulating in your space. Now that it’s warm enough to keep the windows open for a while, try to leave them open while your cleaning up to allow you to get rid of all the musty, stagnant air that’s been sitting around your home. Even if you don’t feel much of a difference, I promise the fresh air will make you feel better.

Finish Up Little Tasks You’ve Been Putting Off

What little fixes around your home have you been avoiding? Things such as changing that burnt out lightbulb, tightening up the screws on a sticky door, or tossing and replacing old and useless appliances? Whatever it is, make a list between now and when you start cleaning of everything you’ve been putting off, so you can ensure you don’t miss anything. It’s so easy, once you’ve started putting off a task, to continue procrastinating on it until the end of time — you’ve already decided you can live with the problem, after all. However, that ends now! Before you can forget again, write down and finish up all the tasks you’ve been putting off — it’ll honestly be a weight off your shoulders.

Clear Out Your Closet

The most obvious step to a good, thorough spring cleaning is clearing out old clothes from your closet. While you can do this any way that suits you best, I’d recommend checking out Marie Kondo’s method — her Netflix show really inspired me back when it came out, and helped me declutter my life more effectively than I ever had before. When cleaning out my closet, I usually take the time to pull everything out, section my section, and go through all of it — making both a donation pile, and a pile of winter clothes that can be put away over the summer months to reduce clutter in my closet.

Throw Out Old Makeup and Bathroom Items

This is an important one — it’s really easy to hold onto hold onto old cosmetics and skincare items and not realize how bad they are for your skin if you continue to use them after their expiry date. Here’s a quick little guide I found that summarizes how long you should be keeping all of your items before replacing them — its worth double checking, even if you’re pretty certain you know how long items last. While it won’t kill you to keep items a little past their due, using items that are too far gone can lead to all kinds of problems — from issues with your complexion to infection. It’s worth taking the time once a year to evaluate what’s still good, and what needs to go.

Rethink Your Accessories

If you’re a big accessorizer, you’ll know how accessories can pile up over the years. Certain trends can come and go over a single season, and certain pieces can become very outdated over a short period of time. This spring, it’s time to rethink the accessories you have — is it necessary to keep them all? Sentimental items aside, go through the accessories you’ve collected over the years and decide if you still use them and if they’re still worth keeping. If not, you can always donate them (or even sell them) — that way, you’ll be able to reduce clutter and make room for new accessories in the future!

Kitchen Clean Out

Now it’s time to go through your kitchen. During this step, you’ll want to go through both kitchen items as well as good, and find ways to get rid of what you don’t need. Old, broken appliances or items you no longer use that are taking up space should be disposed of appropriately. Any expired food should be tossed, and non-perishable items you haven’t eaten and won’t end up using should be donated. The details of this step are really up to you — but the gist is to declutter and reorganize your kitchen the same way you did the other ares of your home in the previous steps.

Downsize Your Storage

Possibly the most daunting step — it’s a good idea to go through your storage and clear out everything you don’t need. It’s so easy to neglect storage items, with them being hidden away and infrequently used. While it’s easy to just ignore the problem, with time you’ll end up adding more and more items until you’re out of storage, or your storage is simply impossible to navigate. By going through once a year, clearing out items you no longer need and reorganizing what’s left, you’ll never get to the point where clearing out your storage seems like some insurmountable task, and going through it every so often reminds you of what you already own — before you accidentally end up purchasing doubles.

Clear Out Miscellaneous Items

The final step of cleaning everything out is to go around the remaining areas of your home and clearing out items you no longer need — which really changes from person to person. For instance, this year I’ll be specifically tidying up my bedside drawers, linens closet, and desk drawers — but what this step means for you will really depend on your own home. Similar to the other steps, clear out items you no longer need from cluttered spaces and tidy up what remains. After this, you’ll finally be done clearing everything out — so I know you’re tired, but power through and you’ll be able to get a really good, fresh start this spring.

Reorganize What Isn’t Working

What areas of your household just don’t work? Between now and when you get to cleaning, take some time to think about which areas of your space you are constantly irritated by, but never think to fix. For me, it’s always my bathroom drawers and bedroom closet. If the way your space is organized isn’t the most functional, perhaps it’s time to switch things up. Try purchasing some new organizers, or maybe try rearranging where in your home you store things. If you’re really up to it, you can even try building in new storage areas to get a good, custom fit.

Clean Every Nook and Cranny

Once you’ve cleared everything out and reorganized what remains, it’s time to deep clean. If you have the time, it’s worth making a day of it — set up a playlist, get into some comfy cleaning clothes and get down to it. If you can, try to do all the little tasks you end up forgetting — such as wiping down the windows, dusting the ceiling corners, vacuuming in the crevices, or whatever it is you find yourself putting off on cleaning days. It can be exhausting, but it’ll be really rewarding when you’ve completed your clean after going all out, with your space looking better than it has in a while.

Freshen Up With Candles

You’re finally almost done! Something that always makes me feel like the final steps of my clean out are coming together are lighting some candles, or turning on my diffuser, and freshening up. Odds are, after such a deep clean-out that your home may smell a bit like cleaning products, but hopefully between your open windows and scented candles, it shouldn’t be too overpowering. By the next day, your home should be smelling fresh, looking clean, and put you in a good mindset for a fresh start this spring. My personal suggestion, if you’re needing some new candles or diffuser oils to add to your collection, are always Indigo and Saje — they’re honestly two of my fave stores of all time, I’m totally obsessed with them. Indigo has more scented candles than anyone ever needs, so there’s totally a candle for everyone — and Saje is more a less the gold standard for diffusers and oils, so there’s nowhere better to shop.

Add In Something New

You’ve finally made it to the end! As a final step, I always love adding in something new — it really helps to make your place feel fresh and new. This can be anything from big decor items — such as a new wall art piece, to a carpet, to new lights or a tapestry — to something smaller, such as a new plant, vase, decor piece, or even some fresh flowers from the supermarket. It’s up to you, really, whatever it is your place feels like it’s missing to tie your spring clean up all together.

Happy April, everyone! It’s finally starting to get warm here in Vancouver — it’s kind of weird honestly, even though the last year has passed by so quickly, it still feels like another lifetime since the last time it was warm here. I’m personally super excited for summer this year — hopefully it’ll mean the end of a lot of lockdowns (since we’re right back in it here in Vancouver), as well as shaking off the seasonal depression and hopefully finding a new normal.

Are you all looking forward to the month ahead? Let me know what some of your plans and goals are — what are you most excited about this April? I’m looking forward to applying to new school programs, personally — as well, as March was the best month I’ve had on my blog in the last year, I’m hoping to smash my records again and have April be even better! Fingers crossed, we’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Much love,

Meredith

My April Bullet Journal!

Hello friends!

It’s the final few days of March, and April is finally just around the corner. The weather is warming up, the trees are blooming, the days are getting longer — and my life is getting busier. As Vancouver starts to, slowly, open back up, it’s beginning to seem like life may, actually, return to normal at some point — which is something that I’m, frankly, rather unprepared for. I’m so used to lockdown life at this point that I honestly can’t even imagine what “normal” life was like anymore — or how I’m going to return to it. It’ll be an adjustment, for sure, but as returning to a more regular life is on the inevitable horizon, I definitely think it’s worth trying to adjust slowly now, while I have the time, rather than forcing it all at once when I no longer have the option.

One way that I’m hoping to keep myself organized and on track is with my bullet journal. I’ve been having a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with it since the start of 2021 — however, I can certainly say that I’m more on top of things when I keep up with using it regularly. I already keep an agenda for explicitly planning out what I’ll be doing each day, but my bullet journal goes above and beyond with keeping my life on track — especially since it can be tailored so specifically in any way I choose. While I use my agenda to schedule each of my days, my bullet journal helps me keep track of my mood, reminds me to stay on top of daily tasks such as working out and taking pills, plan my blog posts and keep all kinds of lists for all kinds of reasons.

This month, I’m expanding my journal even further and adding new segments, such as a page for brainstorming blog topic ideas — where I’ll write down every idea that comes to mind, whether I end up using it or not — and lists specifically for items I need to buy and what I need to do each week in terms of my job hunt. As well, I’m re-writing my daily schedule, with some slight changes, in hoping that writing it down will help me stick to it better. This way, by breaking down everything further, I’m hoping to make everything easier to track to ensure I’m staying on top of everything.

Mood Tracker

My mood tracker is one of my favourite parts of bullet journaling — not only does it help me to reflect on my day without expecting too much of myself (such as a full journal), but it allows me review how my mood has been cumulatively over time, so I am able to check in with myself and see trends that I may have otherwise missed. Rewriting the past is easy — we often dismiss things as being “not as bad as they seemed” or “better than they were”, but this way I can objectively reflect on how I’ve been doing, and not be swayed by how I’m currently feeling. I keep a list of nine colour-coded options for each days mood, ranging from “absolutely amazing” to “completely terrible”, as well as an option for days when I’m not exactly sure how I’m feeling, and days that are totally crazy where it kind of feels like a bomb has been dropped on your life (which, to be fair, I’ve only used once).

Habit Tracker

This is perhaps the most important aspect of my bullet journal — which I’m also going to be expanding on this month. Each night, as I fill out my tracker, I’m not only able to hold myself accountable for habits I wish to form (ie. exercising regularly), I’m able to cumulatively reflect on how often I’m being productive (ie. working on my blog) and remind myself to complete tasks before bed (such as taking my medications and vitamins). In the past, I only kept six trackers per each month, and sometimes I would switch it up depending on what was important to me that month. However, this time I’ll be tracking ten different habits to ensure I stay on top of everything that I need to.

April Daily Schedule

As I mentioned above, I’ll be reworking & rewriting my daily schedule at the start of this month to hopefully serve as a reminder to stick with it. I really don’t expect myself to follow it perfectly every day (or even any day), but rather I use it for a guideline to make sure I’m getting everything I need to done, sticking to habits I’m hoping to form and keeping a regular sleep and eating schedule.

April Goals

I keep a goal list, separate from my to-do list, to help inspire me to reach above and beyond each month. Rather than forcing myself to achieve all of these goals, they serve as a motivator to push myself to not just do what I have to, but go the extra bit further.

Blog Planner

This is where I keep track of what I’ll be posting on my blog each week. I’ve been trying to get ahead on my blog posts so I can have posts ready in advance and have at least a rough idea of what I’ll be posting each week — so when a post gets written down here, it’s all but final. I don’t write everything down too far in advance — you never know when random inspiration may strike — but for certain posts that I’m absolutely certain will be posted that on specific days, I keep track of them here so I know what’s done and what still needs doing.

Blog Brainstorm

This is something new I’m adding this month, that’ll allow me to keep track of rough ideas and deadlines without convoluting my official planner. This page is both for keeping track of all of my ideas — good and bad, since you never know what bad ideas may inspire your next good one — as well as a rough posting schedule for weeks that I haven’t set in stone yet. I’m hoping, by doing this, I’ll be able to feel more inspired, come up with more ideas (and actually remember them), as well as be able to utilize my planner in a more official way to keep track of finalized blog ideas.

To Do List

Each month, I keep a standard to-do list of everything I need to get done. I add to it as the month goes along, and when I have the opportunity to get something crossed off the list I transfer it over to my agenda to help me remember to complete it. This way, I have everything I need to get done written down in one place — rather than in random iPhone notes or on random paper lists — and as long as I write things down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting them (since I’m the queen of “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it”. Spoiler alert: I never remember it. Figures.).

To Do List – Job Hunt and School Application Edition

Over the last month, I’ve been working with a career consultant (more on that later) to help me work out exactly what it is I want to do in life, and how to get there. Being a post-grad in a locked-down COVID world, I was having a lot of trouble finding any sort of job in my career path of choice, and honestly starting to question if it was really the right one for me. While I’m working with this consultant, I’m keeping a separate to-do list of things I need to get done specifically pertaining to job and school applications, even if they’re already in my agenda, just to ensure everything runs smoothly and nothing falls by the wayside).

Shopping List

As I mentioned above, I am absolutely the WORST about believing I’ll remember everything I need to get done in my head, not writing it down, and inevitably forgetting. In the past, I’ve written stuff down on all kinds of random lists with absolutely NO structure of any kind — which makes it easy to lose track of things. In the past, I’ve kind of mixed my “shopping list” in with my “to-do list”, but I feel it’ll be way more organized to keep them separate. This way, I can keep everything I need to go out and purchase in one place, and know exactly what it is I still need to buy.

TV Shows To Watch

Okay, so maybe TV shows I’m looking to binge isn’t the most important thing to keep track of, but whatever — I’m doing it anyways. Honestly, I already had a list (and multiple, in fact, in the past, that I re-wrote before completing) but I’m hoping that I’ll keep this list in order so I can go through and watch each show one-by-one until I make it to the end, before adding new shows to watch. (Shows that I keep up with week-to-week aren’t included, so this is purely a binge-watching list — hopefully keeping it more organized).

And that’s this month’s bullet journal! I’ve added a lot of changes this month, but I’m hoping they’ll have a positive impact and help me stay consistently motivated and organized for the upcoming month — especially since it’s going to be my busiest yet in 2021. Do you guys keep bullet journals of your own? What kinds of pages do you find work best for you? I’m always in search of new ideas and inspo, or ways to make my current pages more effective! Let me know in the comments what your bullet journal looks like, I’d love to hear it!

Happy Sunday, everyone, and happy last weekend of March! Spring is finally, officially here and the weather is only going to get better from here on out. Here’s to April, may it be a good month to all of us! 2021 may have started off a little rocky for some of us, but it’s never too late to turn it around. With a little effort and a little luck, hopefully April will be 2021’s best month yet.

Cheers,

Meredith

Travel Blogs to Inspire Your First Post-COVID Vacation!

Travelling has always been something that was really important to me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to see the world, experience new cultures, and explore new places. I’m pretty fortunate — I’ve already gotten the chance to see so many different countries in my lifetime — and yet, I still can’t wait to see more.

Then, of course, 2020 happened. While I didn’t have any solid plans to travel anywhere at the time that lockdowns hit, I certainly had a trip or two in mind to celebrate graduating and enjoying my time between finishing university and setting out into the “real world”. However, the last year of being at home has given me plenty of time to reflect on the places I have been lucky enough to visit, and all the places I hope to go as soon as COVID and lockdowns have become a distant memory.

Below are all the travel blogs I’ve posted since beginning my blog nearly two years ago now — during which time I was fortunate enough to visit everywhere from my own hometown to South East Asia. Hopefully for all of you who’ve been feeling impatient to break out of your routine and go experience new things after this last year of being at home, you’ll be able to find plenty of inspiration, recommendations and ideas from my little collection of blogs in this post!

SPEND A WEEK WITH ME IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO!

This was the last vacation I went on pre-COVID, but it was a great one to have experienced as my last trip for a while. Puerto Vallarta makes for a great relaxing beach holiday, while also having plenty of adventurous places to visit and local areas to explore the culture.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN BANGKOK!

Bangkok was both the first and last stop on my trip to South East Asia, so while we didn’t see that much of Bangkok during our first few days there per se, you can get a good sense from this post of what it was like acclimating to travelling to the opposite side of the world on my first trip without my family!

THINGS TO DO (PART TWO!): BANGKOK EDITION!

The title here may be a little confusing, since I didn’t actually make a “Things To Do in Bangkok: Part One”. However, this post shares what I did in Bangkok the second time around, and how I spent the last few days of my travels in South East Asia.

THINGS TO DO: KOH PHI PHI EDITION!

Koh Phi Phi is, hands down, one of my absolute favourite places on earth. Not only is it an absolutely stunning landscape, but it’s full of great little cafes, restaurants and shops AND every single shop owner on the island owns a cat. No joke, I’ve never seen so many cats in one place in my life (which was fantastic for me, as I really love cats). I really couldn’t recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi more, I’d probably live here if I could.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN KOH PHI PHI!

Koh Phi Phi is a great adventure spot, and has loads of snorkelling, hiking, and all sorts of other exploring options for those of you who enjoy a little hands-on adventure. There’s SO many adventure options for all types of different comfort zones, as well — so don’t worry if you’re not looking for anything too extreme. If this sounds like your thing, check out this post to get a better sense of what it’s like to take a day trip boat tour of the island!

THINGS TO DO: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand, and a great place to visit to be able to see some really stunning architecture and buddhist temples. It’s a really beautiful place, and visiting the Old City is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited.

PLACES TO EAT: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

For my foodies — there was some really great food in this city. Maybe I’m just biased, though, because Thai food is one of my all-time faves.

THINGS TO DO: SIEM REAP EDITION!

My time in Cambodia was short, but I did manage to fit in a lot of things while I was there. I really didn’t know what to expect of Siem Reap, but it really took me by surprise and ended up being one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME AT ANGKOR WAT!

Perhaps the best-known travel destination in Cambodia, Angkor Was and the surrounding temples are really one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced — they’re really different from any other temples in South East Asia as well. It’s usually packed with people, but if you go in the summer (as I did) it ends up being a lot emptier, which really made the experience more special.

THINGS TO DO: HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION!

Vietnam was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list I’d definitely recommend adding it right now. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is absolutely full of all kinds of amazing food, history, and culture — the city itself, and the entire country of Vietnam, was really one of the most unique and interesting places I ever visited.

THINGS TO DO: NINH BINH EDITION!

Ninh Binh was a real stand out for me in terms of places I’ve visited in my life. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone in a whole lot of ways, but it was all really rewarding at the end of the day. The town is absolutely beautiful, and there’s no shortage of beautiful places to see in the Vietnamese countryside.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN HOI AN!

To be honest, Hoi An is definitely more of a “party” location in terms of places I visited in Vietnam — at least for me. It was crazy fun, though, and I met all kinds of people from around the world while I was staying here.

PLACES TO EAT: HANOI EDITION!

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, and very different from Ho Chi Minh City. It was really interesting being able to visit both in my time in Vietnam — I loved them both so much, and for very different reasons. There’s all kinds of cool things to do and see in Hanoi, but the food in particular is to die for.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN HA LONG BAY!

Ha Long Bay is by far the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, I’d give anything to go back right now. There’s all sorts of ways to see and experience it, but one of the most popular is spending time on an overnight cruise — which I have to say, I’d highly recommend.

THINGS TO DO: LUANG PRABANG EDITION!

Okay, I know I’ve pretty much said that everything on this list was my favourite thing in one way or another, but Laos was really one of the best places I’ve ever visited — and you should probably consider adding it to your bucket list, TBH.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN LUANG PRABANG!

A little in-depth look at one of my best days from my whole trip to South East Asia. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend Laos more.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN TORONTO!

Does it really count as travelling to visit my own hometown? Probably not, but I’m still counting it. Plus, for those of you who’ve never been to Toronto and want to experience it as a local would — then my guide will definitely help you do that!

PLACES TO EAT: TORONTO EDITION!

For all my fellow foodies, Toronto is a must-visit. There’s just so many great options. It has a little bit of everything — as it is the most multi-cultural city in the world, after all — so no matter what you love, there’s something here for you.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN DISNEY WORLD!

Okay…I won’t lie, I’d be pretty hesitant to be going somewhere as crowded as a theme park anytime soon. That might just be me, though. So for everyone who’s been looking forward to a Disney vacation when this is all over, feel free to check out how I spent my weekend there and all my fave things to do and see at Disney World!

SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH ME IN WEST PALM BEACH, USA!

This was more of a trip to visit with my family, but we still managed to squeeze in a little sight-seeing of the local area surrounding our AirBnB while we were visiting West Palm — and we spent a lot of time at the beach, too!

Do you guys have any plans in place to go travelling post-COVID? If so, I’d love to hear where you’re planning on visiting! I, personally, am not making any solid plans until I have my vaccine and the end is “officially” in sight, but in the meantime it’s fun to imagine everywhere I’ll go when we’re free to travel again. I’d love to be able to visit either Japan, Singapore, Italy or Greece (or all of the above!) but honestly I’m not even picky — I’d be happy to go on a trip anywhere at this point. I’d love to hear all of your dream travel locations, so drop a comment below and let me know where in the world you would go right now if you could choose from absolutely anywhere!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you all have an amazing week ahead to look forward to.

Much love,

Meredith

Three Easy Steps To Mastering Any Skill

Hi friends!

Happy Sunday!

This week, I wanted to discuss something that’s been at the forefront of most of our minds since about one year ago, when lockdowns began. (Crazy how it’s been pretty much exactly one year to the day now, right?). As soon as we all became locked inside with nothing to do, a sudden craze broke out across social media — and it urged us all to use our newfound free time to master new skills. Be it baking, cooking, exercising, writing, or art — suddenly everyone seemed like they were trying something new.

The whole concept, as I’ve discussed before, was a bit of a double-edged sword — on one hand, it’s always great to try new things, learn something new or push yourself like you haven’t before. On the other hand, however, there was immense pressure on social media to be using our spare time during one of the most stressful and unpredictable times of our lives to be productive. That being said — there is always benefit to learning new things. A year later on, I’m sure we’ve all seen skills that our family and friends have learned that we would love to learn to do ourselves. But how, exactly? Starting a new skill from scratch isn’t just challenging — it’s daunting as well. However, it isn’t impossible — in fact, it’s far from it. At the end of the day, you really only need three simple things to master any skill your heart desires: practice, passion, and patience. By the end of this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how you can master whichever skill it is you’ve been tempted to try — no matter your level of experience. (And of course, the most important step of all at the end of the day, no matter what skill you want to master, is just to START! Start now! There’s nothing stopping you. If you start today, you’ll just have that much more experience in a week than if you started tomorrow. Don’t worry about having it all be perfect from the get-go. You’ll get there, so just go for it.)

Practice

The first, and most obvious step, to mastering a skill is practice. Or perhaps it isn’t to most obvious — it seems so many people believe that “natural talent” is somehow key excelling at things, but that isn’t the case. Let me be clear — you do not need to be naturally talented and something to become great at it. Think of your skill as you would exercise (which works especially well if exercise is somehow related to the skill you wish to master): anyone who works out will become more fit with time. Sure, it takes a while, and perhaps we all move at different paces. Maybe some people have a bit of a head start, and maybe others don’t. However, with practice, anyone and everyone can become fit. However, no matter who you are — it takes a LOT of both time and effort to become incredibly strong and muscular. But really, the only thing stopping you from being the person who becomes super strong is how much you practice. This doesn’t mean that you should push yourself beyond healthy limits, though — what I’m trying to say is that anyone can build up a skill to the level of a master. It takes time, but there’s no need to rush — you’ll get there.

A little extra note that I’ve found really works for me as well — I find, personally, that I benefit significantly from practicing skills for, say, half an hour putting in my best effort and I do putting in four times as much time at only 50% effort. The quality of my effort, for me, matters. If I’m feeling distracted, or lazy, or trying to rush through practicing simply to finish, it doesn’t really get me anywhere — and it doesn’t show me results that I’m proud of.

Passion

The second thing you’ll need to be able to master a skill is passion. Let’s not get too deep here — I don’t mean that whatever it is you intend to learn has to be your life’s sole and absolute devotion. In fact, you’ll be able to cultivate more passion as you go. But as you start out, you simply need to be passionate enough about whatever skill you wish to learn to feel excited about it, and look forward to practicing it. Let’s say, for example, that your passion is drawing (just like me!). Ideally, if you’re looking get started as an artist, you should be excited to practice drawing and look forward to practicing it when you can. This will reflect in your life in any number of ways — looking forward to purchasing your artistic tools, getting excited about looking for reference images or drawing subjects, or feeling inspired by other’s art that you come across online. All of this passion should, hopefully, not only inspire you to practice — but to practice often. The best part of this step, at least for me personally, is that your passion and excitement grows as you see your hard work pay off. Every time I complete a drawing that I consider to be my personal best, it ignites a newfound wave of excitement to keep going and create something new.

Patience

The final step to mastering any skill is the hardest — patience. Do not feel discouraged if you don’t see results as fast as you think you’re supposed to. Learning takes time, and the path to mastering a new skill is seldom linear. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re making huge amounts of progress, and others you’ll feel stuck in a rut. Whether you feel it or not, though, every time you dedicate yourself to practicing, you’re making progress. Slow progress is still progress. It may take months, or even years, to truly master your chosen skill — and even then, you’ll still always have more to learn. Even if you feel you had a good momentum the first few months and then stopped seeing progress, I’d encourage you not to give up — I’m sure you’re still making progress that even you can’t see. The smallest increments, with time, will get you to where you want to be. And what’s more, you never know when you may have that moment where you can feel everything fall into place; where you feel like you finally get it. If you’ve started and feel lost, that moment will come. Just keep working towards it.

Be sure not to compare yourself to others — some people may experience quick learning in the beginning, some people may take a while to get the hang of things — but the point is, is that ANYONE can master ANYTHING with proper dedication. You do not need to be naturally gifted to become great at something — in fact, most people that are started off just where you are now. The only reason, I believe, that people who are “naturally gifted” tend to excel in particular skills is that they’re motivated by their results early on that drive their passion to continue practicing — just as you will with time. Keep at it, and one day you’ll realize how far you’ve come since you started — and it’ll only drive your passion to keep going and learning more.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. To some extent, art has always been my thing. How do you, or even I, know whether I’m good at it because I followed these steps, or if it’s just because I’m inherently an artistic person? My evidence to show you otherwise is twofold — firstly, while I was pretty active in practicing art back in high school, after first year I pretty much gave up on art all together until after graduation (save for a couple of doodles in the margins of my notebooks). When I first started drawing again, I was no where near the level I was in high school. After just a few years of non-practice, while I didn’t have to start entirely from scratch, I had lost any so-called natural talent and had absolutely no ability to even draw a simple proportionate face. (I’d share a photo with you all of how my first few drawings looked when I was starting out, but I’m honestly too embarrassed. When I say they’re bad, I mean — they’re REALLY bad). There’s no shame in that, though — I had to start somewhere. On top of that, once my line work started to improve in quality, I still had another obstacle to beat — I wanted to learn how to use alcohol-based markers, and draw in colour (which was NOT something I had any previous experience in). Back in high school, I almost entirely drew my art in pencils, or in greyscale — I almost never used colour. I didn’t paint often, and even though I used colour pencils on occasion, it was pretty rare. Learning how to shade in colour is an entirely different skill from pencil and grayscale shading — as well, I had never tried alcohol markers before and I had no idea how to blend and use them. Honestly, it took a lot of time. While I hit a couple ruts along the way, I’ve had not one, but multiple moments where I felt things beginning to click — and those moments really revolutionized my own abilities and revived my passion to practice.

My second example, however, is much more recent; I’ve been trying my hand at digital art. Digital art is something I actually tried once (although briefly) in the past, but gave up on. This time, however, I’m going in with a little more dedication, and I’m following my own advice. When it comes to digital art, I know absolutely next to nothing. Drawing on a tablet does not come easily to me in any way, shape or form — I don’t find it intuitive, or at all similar to drawing with pencils and paper. It was really discouraging at first, honestly. I kind of ended up avoiding practicing for a month and a half, opting to continue with my marker-based art because I was so daunted by having to learn something from scratch. Even though I’ve had a slow start to it, however, I finally had a moment last week — I felt something click. It’s not like I’ve suddenly become an overnight expert (far from it in fact, I still have a long way to go), but for the first time I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. I really lacked patience with my first few digital drawings, to be fair — I rushed through them and had quit on every single one so far partway through when I started to feel that each piece was beyond help. With a little time and effort, however, I finally created an outline that may not be perfect, but that I am proud of. I still have a long way to go — how to colour in digital art is still something I have next to no idea how to do — but I don’t have to get there right away. I’m sure one day, I’ll be able to figure it out.

I wanted to share a little bit of my own personal progress with you all, to give you a little idea of what I’m talking about (or perhaps some inspiration to get started on a skill of your own!). I, personally, love drawing cartoon style — most of my drawings are characters from my favourite TV shows and movies. These two pictures were taken six months apart: the drawing on the left (Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender) was one of my very first that I used alcohol markers on, and the one on the right (Armin Arlert from Attack on Titan), was from a few weeks back. Neither of them are perfect, sure, and I still have a long way to go. But look at how much I’ve improved! Six months may sound like a long time to take to improve now, but it won’t feel that way if you’re constantly putting in effort and enjoying yourself, rather than counting the days. Who knows just how good I may be in another six month’s time.

As for my progress in my digital artistic endeavours, this is the outline in question (Eren Jaeger from last week’s episode of Attack on Titan). I’m still in the process of colouring it in, but as I said, I have a lot to learn and it’s taking me a while to get the hang of. However, this line work is by far the best I’ve done so far in my digital art journey, and it was the first time EVER that I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. Once again, it’s far from perfect — but who cares! I’ll get better eventually, and frankly (especially when you compare it to absolutely any of my other attempts), I’m pretty proud of it.

I hope you’re all having a great week, and have another great week ahead of you! I won’t lie, you guys — I had no idea it was daylight savings today, and I spent a good half of my day being awfully confused. I’m not complaining, though — the days are getting longer, and we’ve had a few days here in Vancouver that have finally started to feel like spring. The last few weeks of winter are always the longest — more so this year than others — but it seems we’re finally at the end of winter, and possibly through the worst of COVID (fingers crossed). It really is starting to feel like things are finally returning to normal, and that there are better days ahead.

Until next Sunday,

Meredith