Monday, 30 July 2018

August 2018 Playlist

August is destined to be a completely crazy month for me. I'm traveling, learning, getting back into the swing of things after a chilled yet fun summer. I can hardly imagine what's in store for me! August is my favourite month of the year always because of the weather and the beautiful sunsets and evening light, so hopefully this year is just as good. In celebration/anticipation of a novel month, I've put together a little playlist. This one is similar vibe wise to my June Playlist which got a really good reception (thank you thank you!) so I hope you enjoy it with me!

As always, I'm open to any musical suggestions you have, whether you think they have a place on this playlist or are completely different and deserve a listen.

Happy almost August!

Anna x

Friday, 20 July 2018

Learning to Treat Myself Better

Sometimes it's hard to put yourself first, other times you put yourself first too many times, but not always in helpful and healthy ways. Sometimes you think it's 'self-care' but really all you're doing is ignoring your problems, folding them up and carrying them around in your back pocket. Self care is not saying you're okay when you're not. Self care should be when you know you're not okay and accept it, but try to make life easier for yourself. Self care should be when you know you're okay but want to treat yourself even better. It's not always a simple path.

But we have a choice. You can do things to make your life better. You can try things, you can learn to let go of fear. If you don't expect much, if you go in with low hopes but high faith you can seriously help yourself. I know this because I have a tendency towards pessimism, I worry about how things are going to turn out, I don't trust myself enough, but I'm learning. I'm learning so much that I've a pull to tell you what I've been doing, and how I've been trying, and how you can too.

I've always wanted to try things, but I've always been too scared to. But I have a couple of things lined up that I'm so excited for now, and even though I'm really anxious about how they'll go and the amount of personal effort and will I'll have to produce, I am so ready to see what happens. I don't want to reveal too much, but to say that in a few weeks I'll be traveling somewhere on my own and when I get back, I'm signed up to try a new sport. I'm extremely shy and very unsporty, so these two things sound like they might be tough and I mighn't be that good at them, but every bone in my body is asking me to do them, for me. It just takes one decision and a little bit of planning to create such opportunities for yourself. I will soon let you know how these go.

I've been spending more time with my friends too, so small as a thing, but it brings me such joy. I'm an introvert so it takes me a lot of energy to make plans with friends and anticipate them and get ready, but once I'm there in the middle of the action, I nearly always have an amazing time. I'm so lucky with the friends I've made, that the older ones have lasted through my first year of college, that my new friends are so sweet to me, even though I can't see them much during the summer. It's taken me a crazily long time to realise that all the energy I need to generate to spend time with these beautiful people is more than worth it. And seeing them more just makes my heart so full.

Eating good food is such a mood booster too. One thing I've been trying to do lately is to have nice food available for breakfast. It incentivizes me to get up as I'm a big child and find tasty food exciting, but if you eat well at the start of the day, you'll feel better and try not to wreck it by eating rubbish later. Another thing I've been trying to keep in supply is face/hair masks. The ultimate treat yourself move, and they can be very inexpensive.

All of these things, small though they may be, have been helping me to feel better, and I hope they can help you too if you don't do them already.

Do you have any tips or advice to share?

With love,

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Jack Johnson Live at The Marquee, Cork // 2 July 2018

This has been a good summer for concerts. Having seen Taylor Swift in concert just two weeks prior, the prospect of seeing one of my other music favourites perform was too much to handle! I've been listening to Jack Johnson since my early years of secondary school, he was the background to math study, the only subject I allowed myself to listening to music whilst studying. It feels like we go way back. And when he announced he was coming to Ireland for the first time in 12 years(!!) I just had to go.

He played in the Marquee, which is genuinely a marquee/circus tent set up in the middle of a car park just outside Cork city. It only holds some 4,000 people and is set up each summer for a series of concerts. People such as Bob Dylan, Elton John and Lana Del Rey have performed there in the past. This year's line up is almost complete, but has seen the likes of Kraftwerk, Alanis Morisette and Don McClean perform. It's basically a really cool summer series with some serious artists!

It was a bit of a sweaty summer's day, the sun was still shining as my companion and I walked to the concert. We missed the opening act, local Irish "The Ocelots", but honestly didn't mind too much. I'd never heard of them and was really only there to see Jack Johnson perform. It was so strange walking up to the tent because I'd never been in such a huge one! It's one of the weirdest venues I've been in, as it felt very makeshift, but in actuality it worked well because despite the lack of screens or projections, I could see perfectly well from our middle-row seats.

It was such a contrast to the Taylor Swift concert. Not only was it 1/20th of the size, but it lacked any sort of visual spectacle. The lights on stage changed between about 4 colours, but remained blue for the vast majority of the concert. Jack Johnson didn't outfit-change (lol) and most importantly and specially, it was so casual! It felt incredibly intimate when Jack asked for song requests and consulted his band when he needed help figuring out chords. He forgot/messed up the words on around 3 or 4 occasions, but honestly it just made it more cozy and friendly. He was up on stage having fun, only using a vague setlist which he altered as he wished and with a couple of requests shouted up at him from the crowd. It was so cool! I know he doesn't have as many hard core fans as some of the other artists I listed earlier, but I felt very lucky to be able to see one of my favourite artists perform in such a relaxed and fun way.

He played guitar the whole time as his band played their various instruments. Another thing which I enjoyed was the fact that all of the music was organic. It was produced on the spot with live instruments, which is really so much rarer these days. He didn't have any fancy amps or techniques, it was just as natural as a concert gets! He played some of my favourite songs and many crowd pleasers such as Banana Pancakes, Better Together, Home and Do You Remember. He came back for an encore as the crowd cheered and roared for him, performing a few songs completely solo before he was rejoined by his band and the Ocelots. It was such a pleasant evening, and Jack was on stage for around 2 hours if not a little more than that which was so amazing! Naturally I had to come away with a t-shirt.

Do any of you like Jack Johnson or his music?

Anna x

Monday, 9 July 2018

On Turning 20

 It's my birthday today, and with 20 years on this planet and I really feel like I've learned something, stupid though it may sound. I greeted my previous / two birthdays with a certain degree of trepidation. Turning 18 felt so foreign, like I was too inexperienced to possibly be that age. It called me and repelled me in equal measure. I cried on my 18th and 19th birthdays. Where was the joy of childhood birthdays gone? Where was the fun? The number of people celebrating with me seemed to dwindle, with old age, with sickness, with travel, with friends on summer holidays. Nothing felt quite right to me, and in my final couple of months as a 19 year old, I kept forgetting my age, though I'm not sure what age I really thought I was. Even with some very special people who can no longer celebrate with me, I think I feel okay about my birthday again. At the very least, I am willing to try.

Of course it's a bit scary to think that I am entering the third decade of my life. It's both a relief and a shock to think that I am technically no longer a teenager. Nevertheless, these past few months have taught me that age and stage don't mean forgetting who you once were. Over the past couple of years I have accidentally let go of a lot of the things which brought me joy, like music I used to like, hobbies I used to have, even reading, and I am so happy to have realized this. In a weird way I feel like I'm getting myself back. And it's just nice to be able to mark parts of my life off, 20 as a cornerstone of a new phase of happiness (let's hope).

Like, this past year has been HARD. Getting back to what I said at the beginning, I've learned so damn much from it, though! I feel that I can look back and be proud of myself for doing my best with it, for achieving things (little victories and bigger ones) even in the face of what was often a really testing few months. I made some lovely friends in college, I got a new oh-so lovable family member, I tried my best in my first year of university. It was also a year of stress and deep loss, but I don't hate it for that. I guess I'm just not sorry to move on when there's the prospect of a decent year ahead.

Being 20, I hope to be happy. I know it's a bit cheesy, but I really am hoping to feel more comfortable with myself. I've been making little moves already towards an updated me, new glasses, an overdue haircut out of the way, more time with friends. It's been a really nice summer thus far, and I hope to bring the gentle care of it through into the year ahead. I greet it with open arms. Of course nothing can truly be anticipated. I have about 2 months left of summer (summers here are ridiculously long) and beyond that I have my second year of university. Who knows what challenges and joys will come of all of that?

Do you have any advice for a 20 year old?

Anna x
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