The Last Books I Read

Straight from my GoodReads vault- here are my reviews of my Summer 2021 reads, coming in late I must say. I really tried to aim for a mixture of genres this Summer and also aimed to catch-up on a lot of fiction reading that my undergraduate degree did not allow me the time for.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make The Most Of Them by Meg Jay
4 Stars.
I have found that every single day since turning 20 I have become perpetually lost. My social media feeds are filled with engagements, babies, new jobs, aesthetic travel shots, articles about how much money other people my age are making from photos on IG. I have no idea what I’m doing, what I’m supposed to be doing or if what I’m doing is in anyway deemed ‘right’ or ‘normal’. This book provided myself with a much welcomed sense of zen. Jay provides perfectly picked anecdotes that provide you with a sense of reassurance that everything will be ok. My copy has trebled in size due to the sticky notes stuck to every page. I closed the final page with a firmer sense of understanding of what I do need to be doing right now to feel more stable. As with any book within the self-help genre I believe it’s a matter of picking our what is appropriate to your situation rather than taking every words as the Bible. I think it expertly highlighted that whilst you are unique, there are universal anxieties that plague us in our twenties and Jay provides clear stepping stones on how to deal with them.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
5 Stars.
Hamnet has sat in my TBR for a long while. I knew I didn’t want to delve into the world of Agnes and Hamnet until I could be undisturbed in my garden laying under the warmth of the early Summer sun. This read did not disappoint. As a self-claimed Shakespeare nerd I adored delving into this period and the life of Shakespeare in such a unique way. O’Farrell’s detailing of the settings is extraordinary and I am in disbelief that O’Farrell is not somehow a time-traveller. Maggie’s narrative transported me completely and I adored every second of it. My reading of Hament also re-fuelled my desire to go on my own pilgrimage to Stratford-Upon-Avon and try to find O’Farrell’s same connection.

American Dirt by Jeannie Cummins
3 Stars,
I was compelled by the controversies of Cummins’ narrative to take a read for myself. I endeavour anyone picking up this novel to educate themselves on the wider issues with this text concerning the stereotyping of Mexican and Mexico immigrants. Whilst those stereotypes were easy to recognise I did become swept by the plot and the indestructible bond presented between mother and son. I was surprised to find that my focus settled on the presentation of the maternal bond. I would say, to a reader wanting a similar experience but without the association of Cummins’ authorship, that The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the only other novel that has captured the essence of the paternal bond in the same way.

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy
4 Stars
I will admit I was drawn to this novel purely for the aesthetics of its front cover. I sought so much comfort in being taken away to the Cornish seaside each afternoon with my cup of tea. Kennedy’s characters are incredible. I still find myself wanting to know more about each individual who stayed in that tragic hotel and I think I always will. I adored the fact that I could not neatly place it’s genre. This is a thriller. A morality play. A romance. A typical English story. I adored it.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
3 Stars.
I often find myself asking what the hell is going on inside the male’s head? It was refreshing to have an expertly accurate insight into the male’s mind. God Rob is a tosser but, he’s a tosser that all of us know. Everyone has either been with a Rob, is a Rob or has once been a Rob. I laughed, I flinched, I cringed, I resonated- I, at the closing of the novel, understood.

The Ophelia Girls by Jane Healey
3 Stars.
This is the first book I have had to physically separate myself from. Very much akin to Joey with Little Women in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Healey has crafted this beautifully dark narrative about a mother daughter relationship. Honestly, I hated it yet simultaneously I could appreciate how expert Healey’s narrative is. Healey’s characterisations were so vivid I found myself physically reacting to many scenes. I would stress the many triggers contained within this book: suicide, alcoholism, sexual abuse.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
4 Stars.
I’ve become enthralled by Channel 5’s renewal of All Creatures Great and Small. I adore it. It’s everything I want from a programme and I was so excited to delve into Herriot’s actual diaries. They’re gruesome, hilarious, witty, poignant, potentially romantic (if you’re into honeymoons cattle tagging). I loved it.

Found by Erin Kinsley.
4 Stars.
Who doesn’t love a good thriller? With the abundance of crime and thriller novels and tv shows I think it’s hard to find a narrative that surprises you. Kinsley had me racking my brains till the final chapter about who was the culprit. It was a quick easy read that thoroughly entertained me on the drive from Cumbria to Manchester. 100% an author I want to become more familiar with.

Improving Your Everyday By 1%

I often find myself stuck in a rut of wanting to create better habits for myself but perpetually struggling to carry those new habits out. Perhaps it is because I set myself too many goals that are far too large to realistically see through each week. Perhaps it is because I find myself becoming overwhelmed with having to seemingly upturn my entire routine in order to meet each goal. Recently I’ve been using the 1% rule and oh wow, it’s a made a genuine difference.

If you make the effort to improve by 1% each day for a year, that’s a whole lot of better by the end of it. I worked out what areas of my life I wanted to improve in and habits I wanted to pick up by answering the following prompts.

What would a good day look like?
What areas of my life do I want to improve?
What do I need to change to be a better version of myself?
What do I want to change?
How do I want to feel and what do I want my life to look like by the end of the year?

Once I had an understanding of concrete habits I wanted to place into my daily life I began doing them by 1% each day.

I began to ensure I read minimum one chapter of a book each day. I made sure I left the house and walked somewhere, whether that was a long ramble in the country or a trip round the corner to Tesco (more often the latter), each day. That I began my day with a glass of water. That I chose an area of the flat to tidy each day. Putting my phone down when I worked to be more present. Reading 1-3 industry articles on LinkedIn when I wake rather than mindlessly scrolling through TikTok. Cooking homemade food rather than ordering out.

Improving by 1% doesn’t have to be limited to habits such as the above. If everyone tried to be 1% kinder each day, the world would be a far nicer place to live in. Practice smiling at a stranger. Hold your tongue when usually you’d be tempted to say something too sharp. Tell someone you love them. Pay yourself a compliment rather a critique when you look in the mirror.

Tiny steps lead to big things, always.

How would you improve your everyday by 1%, let us know in the comments below!

how to set intentions – wellness

Your twenties are widely known as the decade where your life possibilities are seemingly endless. Turning twenty certainly feels like a fresh new chapter and the beginning of your ‘dreams coming true’. Yet you may find yourself two years into your twenties, like myself, realising none of those things you’re dreaming of have happened yet. Time feels like it’s slipping from your grasp and those dreams appear impossible. I’ve realised over the past year that those dreams are not impossible, they just require hard work. You need to be able to focus yourself in order to allow them to flourish. Setting intentions provide you with direction. They give you a purpose that will guide you through each day allowing you to work effectively towards making your dreams a reality.

how do i begin setting intentions?

Firstly, it’s best to outline your overall intentions. These are the big ones. Your deepest desires for your life right now. They aren’t going to be achievable overnight but, are the driving force behind every thing you do. On your way to reaching them you’ll achieve lots of little things that eventually will pan into your dream becoming a reality. You need to align your mind, body and spirit and discover what it is that you truly want. Try to only pick 3 maximum, you want to make sure you have clear focuses.

If I am struggling I tend to organise my intentions into categories. For example: spiritual, personal and perhaps career.

Once you have your overall intentions – your driving forces – you can begin to think of monthly and daily intentions. These intentions may be on a much smaller scale- see them as stepping stones towards your big intentions.

When writing down your intentions try wording it as ‘I will…’ rather than ‘I wish’ or ‘I want’. You want to make your intentions vivid within your mind in order to truly see them manifest into your everyday. We don’t want to be still seeing them as dreams, we need to start looking at them as events are inevitable.

As a guiding example take a look at this extract from my own journal:

“I will build a business that will allow me to flourish creatively and will bring me the creative and financial independence I desire. This month I will bring space into my schedule to allow myself time to focus on personal projects and develop my passions. This week I will listen to and trust my creative energies, taking the time to develop my new brand”

how do i remain accountable?

In order to successfully meet your intentions you need to hold yourself accountable. It’s a matter of reminding yourself daily of your intentions and ensuring each action in your day is only pushing you forward rather than hindering your intentions. Motivation is not what is needed here, it is discipline. You need to come to the realisation that it is you who has the power to achieve what you are desiring, and only you can truly ensure you’re doing everything possible to make them possible.

My biggest advice is to set a routine. Every Sunday evening I will make the effort to create a calming atmosphere by running a bath, cleansing my skin, lighting a candle, and taking the time to write in my journal. Below you can find the journal prompts I use to re-focus myself.

  • what are my three main intentions?
  • how did i work towards my intentions this past week?
  • what do i need to let go of this week to remain focused?
  • what are my intentions for this week?
  • write down three things you want to attract this week.

Try beginning each morning by taking a few rounds of deep cleansing breaths and repeating to yourself your intentions for the day ahead. It’s all about focusing your energies and ensuring your always staying on track.

I encourage you to go grab a hot drink. Find a quiet, calming and comfortable space and settle down with a pen & journal. Take your time and map out your intentions. Do not rush. Really focus your energies and accept what it is your truly want. Use the journal prompts laid out in this post and begin setting your intentions. We cannot wait to hear about how this practice benefits you, be sure to visit us over on IG to tell us all about it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

the beginning.

When I turned 20 in 2019 I felt as if I could have collapsed under the intense pressure I felt. I awoke to greeting cards filled with sentiments about how ‘these are the best years of your life’ and how ‘the world is your oyster’. It was hard not to feel like my life suddenly had endless opportunities that would bring me success and happiness. Yet as my logical mind began to timeline the next decade of my life I became crippled with anxiety. How could I travel the world, obtain a good degree, begin a successful career, say yes to every plan with friends, find the love of my life to marry, get my first home, adopt a dog, eat healthy, exercise twice a day, learn how to cook, and begin a family all within the short space of ten years. I blinked and two years of my twenties had gone by and I spent 90% of that time stuck inside whilst a global pandemic raged on. Every decision I made seemed to carry so much weight as I was hopelessly trying to navigate myself onto a path that would allow me to achieve all of the above. As I get deeper into my twenties my instagram feed becomes filled with engagements, baby announcements, first home selfies. It’s hard to not compare yourself to everybody else out there, especially when we’re living our twenties alongside Molly Mae who has seemingly conquered the world at 21. I constantly feel inept. I constantly feel lost. I suppose maybe that’s the point of your twenties, you have to be lost for a while to truly find who you are but christ- it’s hard work.

During my twenties I’ve been really lonely. It seems to become harder to talk to friends as everyone is focusing on their own lives. It seems harder to share aspirations and dreams with others because they’re much more real now. My dreams aren’t distant fantasies anymore- they are goals I want to see myself achieve in the coming years. I don’t want anybody to turn me off from them.
I longed for a community that would make me feel more supported. That would make me feel at ease during those anxious moments. A community who I could share every up and down with. A community who I could navigate my twenties with.

So here we are.
It’s been two years of trial and error to bring Navigating Twenties to what I want it to be. I think we’re finally ready now.

I really hope you find a friend in this website and in the voices that will feature on it.
Please stick around, we’d be so happy to have you.

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