September – and the end of it – marks the beginning of my favourite season – autumn. It’s especially beautiful in Southampton and I love the crispness of it all – in the air, under my feet as I walk, on my skin as I wrap my scarf tightly around my face and neck. This period is always a reflective time for me before the new year starts, and I spent quite a lot of time this month thinking about my future and my goals, doing my best everyday to choose me and be good to myself. So here we are – these are the things that inspired and kept me going this month.
Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari
This is legit the most hilarious book I have read in a long while. Aziz Ansari – a comedian (although I have never seen any of his content before reading this book) – charts the frustrations of dating in the 21st century in what is possibly the most easy-to-read, laugh-out-loud book that I have come across in this genre. It’s supported by a lot of research, including primary studies, and really depicts the landscape of modern romance and why we millennials struggle SO HARD in the dating world. Technology, especially mobile phones and social media, have changed the game so much that we are encountering challenges that our predecessors, even only 10 years ago, couldn’t have dreamed up of. I would defo recommend giving this a read! 5/5 people – and that’s a rare rating for me!! I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, and absolutely loving it.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace Theatre, London)
Paid an arm, leg and the soul of my unborn child for these tickets, but it was SO WORTH IT OMG. It was a gift for my sister’s birthday – bless her she was so excited – we’re both super fans but keep our fandom low key. We were ill AF on the day, and I cried in-between the two parts coz we ate McDonalds and it tasted like shite – but hey hoo – life is all about learning dem lessons.
The Little Mermaid Ballet (The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton)
If you follow me then you’ll know that this is my favourite story of all time, ALL TIME people. It was absolutely beautiful – my first ballet and honestly, ballet dancers are soo talented. No words, just dance and some vocals. This followed the original Hans Christian Anderson storyline and not the Disney version – so yes, it had the sad ending.
Here’s a link to a post I wrote earlier this year on The Little Mermaid and how much it means to me:
Day trippin and it’s such a nice city! It’s ridiculous that I haven’t visited before, considering it’s so close to me and super cheap to get to from Southampton on the train. It was a bit up and down with the weather (no surprises there ayyy) but it held out for most of the day for me and Tom. Think it’s worth mentioning here that we went to this great little independent food place for lunch called Brighton Burger. Burgers appear to be my latest obsessions/addiction, and I can say from my deep level and range of experience of eating burgers that it is one of the best burger places that I have been to, so would highly recommend it if you visit Brighton anytime soon. TripAdvisor and Tom would also concur with this view as well, just sayin.
Here’s a pic if you don’t believe me. Again 5/5.
Here’s also a pic of the sunset. Only half-decent pic I managed to get. Most of them were of me trying to get selfies with Tom were we pretended to be happy ppl.
Weekend trip with one of my favourite persons ever – Becky. We met on the way to China when we were going on a Cambridge trip abroad to teach, and have literally been besties since. This was our first hol tog since then (I met her at the airport and we looked over at each other and were like SNAP LET US BE FRIENDS IMMEDIATELY COZ WE DON’T NO NOBODY ELSE). And we’ve been pals ever since. I enjoyed Dublin a lot – although not gonna lie – it has a strange feel over it – like 1960s post- communist Russia- post- fall of Berlin wall kinda vibe. We did traipse about the most on the Sunday though so the ‘dead’ vibe could be because everyone was at church or wotnot. The city certainly came alive on the Monday. If you do plan a visit, the city can be surprisingly expensive for what’s on offer and I would advise booking things early, or doing your research beforehand coz costs can add up quickly. We did not plan this trip at all and pretty much winged most of it and got super lucky with tours and things – again surprisingly – everything is pretty much booked up or gets booked up very fast.
We managed to do lots of stuff in a short amount of time however – so overall a really successful and enjoyable city break – chilled and full of sights – inc. Dublin Castle, that famous jail place, Trinity College and the library where they keep the Book of Kells or whatever (honestly not that exciting so if you ever plan to go don’t bother/waste yo money), Temple Bar (where we got to listen to Irish music and watch this old woman swing about with all the young Irish men at the bar – was absolutely brilliant), The Little Museum of Dublin (best half hour tour talk thing of the trip) – would defo recommend. We got the 3 day pass (33 euro) which inc. all transport and free entry to The Little Museum of Dublin (saving of 10 euro) and a walking tour (another saving of 10 euro) and quite a number of other perks!
We also did a little experiment thing about seeing a city through colour – it’s about looking at places through a different lense. You pick a colour – we chose yellow (thought green was a little too obvious and because we thought yellow was a happy colour), and so as you explore the city you look out for things of that colour. You soon start to notice little things about a place that you might not have noticed otherwise! It was quirky and fun although we did spend far too much time at traffic lights trying to take a pic of the amber little person because it was yellow lol.
Love & stuff
So many weddings this year! I’ve tried to make use of stuff in my wardrobe and play around with different makeup looks since I now have the time to be interested in matters of vanity as I am no longer a student with no life. Celebrated my friend Becca’s wedding and one of my best friend’s brother’s wedding this month. It was lovely to be present in these ceremonies and catch up with everyone. Been to so many that another friend of mine text me this: ‘ALL THESE WEDDINGS WHEN’S YOURS BAE??’ I was like -__- fuuuu. / luv uuu.
Just when I thought I’d been to my last wedding this year- just been invited to another one! So yah – more free food and un-eligible men. Woo.
Eid (Islamic New Year)
ALONE ALL BY MYSELF. This appears to be a more and more common occurrence as I age into death. The Quadir family are a strange bunch – we have no extended family but our immediate family is huge so I guess I never felt like I was missing out on much with the lack of cousins and wotnot. But now that we’re all grown up and going our separate ways I’m like – WHY AM I A LONELY POTATO EVERY EID. My Mother was in Saudi completing the Hajj pilgrimage with Sister No. 2 and her husband, so my younger siblings (Sisters 6 and 7) were in London to help look after the children of Sister no. 2, so this is why I was by myself. Cheers.
Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions by Russell Brand
This is absolutely brilliant. I’ve been listening to it with my free trial of Audible on Amazon. In today’s society, addiction is rife and we’re all battling with something – whether that’s overeating, drinking, social media addiction or whatever – we’re suffering in a world with an economic system and environment that feeds off our addictions, and in many ways, creates them and depletes our ability to feel that we can be independent or be rid of them. I’m only half way through it but would definitely recommend it if your looking to overcome an addiction or self-sabotaging habits/practices you may be struggling with.
I’m still listening to Modern Love podcasts and been having a blaze through 90s music this month. I really need some good stuff to listen to in the gym. Discover Spotify has been good but seeking some decent recommendations for gymlife please!
Just these two this month – a creative piece and a review type piece:
I’ve always been quite a driven and ambitious person. But this year has been probably one of the toughest of my life, and because of that, I have lost sight of the things I wanted and worked so hard to build a foundation for. I was talking to a close friend of mine the other day, and he reminded me that the people you surround yourself with can really impact you massively. I mean I’ve always known this, but again, lost sight of it because I’ve been out of it for so much of this year. When I used to hang out with driven and competitive people, I was always pushing myself, developing myself, striving to be better and the best version of myself. But the thing about working in the public sector is, as much as I love it, it’s easy to become complacent and just ‘roll along’ with life. I love working in education and in a University, it’s my natural habitat and I love the environment and friendly people, but public sector is sloooow and can be un-inspiring when there are people working there before you were even born (no offence if you read my blog lol). Innovation does not come about or progress at the same pace that it would in the private sector.
Anyway, my point is, I’ve just become a bit lax. Recently, I have been in contact with people with lots of positive energy, drive and spirit, and most attractively, ambition. This made me shift my focus back to my goals – yes, I do want a place of my own and write that novel that has been churning in the back of my mind for years; yes, I do want to find the love of my life and yes, I do want to have that fat baby boy promised in my destiny, but most importantly, I want to get my health, both mental and physical, back in the right place. But I can’t expect it to just land in my lap- I have to actively strive towards making these goals happen, as I have done with everything previously up until this point in my life. It sometimes just feels SO HARD though, but I am trying to take it day by day. I still have days were I relapse and just want to go to bed and cry my eyes out, but now I just do that and then try and do other stuff too. My current focus is on buying my own place; I dismissed this goal earlier this year as I just didn’t think it was feasible for me or that I didn’t want the responsibility, and at the time the future ahead of me seemed so dark and obscure – but now I’m like HELLO I CAN TOTALLY GET MY OWN PLACE – WHY WOULD I EVER THINK I COULDN’T?
I’ve been trying to change my habits by building daily rituals that work towards my long-term goal of having a healthy and active lifestyle – and going to the gym is one of them. I joined easyGym recently and it’s one of the best I’ve been to so far. I honestly didn’t realise how addictive the gym can be and always thought people who enjoyed going to the gym were nuts. Well heyy ho – my tune has changed. If you go to a good gym that’s well kitted out with a good vibe it can be a huge motivator. I actually look forward to heading to the gym after a long day at work! Cray I know. Ok yeh so easgyGym has a few lemons in it but on the whole, everyone’s been super friendly and lots of guys have been helpful with the equipment since I always look a bit lost and confused in the ‘manly’ weights area.
I also think it’s important to find a gym routine or programme that you like and stick to it- that’s made a huge difference for me. I prefer lifting weights/resistance training to cardio. I’m doing the Venus workout programme at the moment, which has a lot of resistance exercises and I can honestly say that I have never been so consistent at the gym. I am really loving it and its become a sort of therapy; my ‘me time’. I gained some weight after losing it last year and it’s sort of knocked my confidence a little bit so I’m working on it!!! I can already see both the physical and mental benefits. #potatogetsfit. First stage of recovery.
A while back you may remember that I was seeking out some good podcasts to listen to, but after trying a few here and there, I just couldn’t find one that hooked me. Low and behold, sleepless nights and browsing psychology articles online, I stumbled upon the fantabulous Modern Love podcast series. Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story amirrighhhttt? Especially the ones that end in heartbreak and leave you hating life. WHAT’S EVEN BETTER? THE ONES BASED ON REAL LIFE!! REAL LIFE PPL!! Not made up hooplaaas that Hollywood chucks at us.
My own modern love story coincided with me listening to these podcasts oddly enough- so there must be something to it eh. The podcast covers stories sent in by people and are based on lessons learned in love, loss and redemption. It’s seriously moving stuff and I became an instant fan, taking the time out to listen to it wherever possible, be it during solo food fests, on an airplane, gymming or my daily bus grind.
Here are my top 7 that I would highly recommend to get you started, and that you need to listen to ASAP if you know what’s good for you:
1. ‘To Fall In Love, Do This’ | Episode 30
This is the first one I listened to, late at night a couple of months ago when I was having trouble sleeping. I tried it out on a first date too, and it’s a great way to park any initial nerves to the side and get to know someone on a deeper level. It’s also fun to do, and a bit of like a game. It’s based on Arthur Aron’s famous study about creating inter-personal closeness between two strangers in a lab setting, or as the media promoted it, ’36 questions to make anyone fall in love’ or ‘creating love in the lab’. I’m a huge fan of social psychology so this was right up my street.
2. ‘A Millennial’s Guide to Kissing’ | Episode 10
I listened to this on my way to Edinburgh, and it’s a must listen, especially if you’re a millennial. The story is about how love in today’s fleeting world of instant gratification is like a short ride on a plane… I loved this one – think I will give it another listen!
3. ‘The End of Small Talk’ | Episode 59
This is another brilliant one and talks about moving beyond small talk when it comes to dating or meeting people and getting to the real questions we want to ask someone.
4. ‘Kept Together By The Bars Between Us’ | Episode 35
This is the most strangely romantic and incredibly gripping story that I’ve ever come across, and I certainly would not have come across it had I not stumbled across this podcast. I was listening to it whilst walking uphill on the treadmill at the gym and was gasping and making all sorts of dramatic faces as the story went on. It’s a story about a woman who falls in love with a convicted murderer… and my god it is incredible.
5. ‘Flowergate’ | Episode 76
This is a story about a flower delivery gone wrong, very very wrong. And it’s so tragic because it is such an easy mistake to make. This really had me teary on the train back home from Edinburgh. And I rarely cry #coldasice here ppl.
6. ‘Just friends? Let me read between the lines’ | Episode 28
This is absolutely brilliant, told with so much humour for what is a heart-rendering story. I was laughing out loud at so many points but it cut me deep at the same time too. Again, something everyone can relate to: dating someone, falling head over heels for them, and then it not working out. How to get over them? Well don’t do these things…
7. ‘Friends without benefits’ | Episode 19
This is a story of friendship and love never reciprocated. It’s told so well and it’s so moving, I can’t imagine anyone who would not be able to relate to it. Unrequited love is the hardest, but what’s even harder is when it eventually happens, but doesn’t live up to your expectations. I listened to this whilst I was drawing and really had to take a moment and just fully focus on listening to it, because it really makes you stop and appreciate the intensity of the emotion that comes with falling in love with someone and pining for them for years.
I’ve learnt so much from these podcasts and because they are stories submitted by real people and of real experiences, there’s something in all of them that’s not only easy to relate to, but of value – something you can really take away and apply or consider in your own life. There’s more commonality to human experience then we may immediately realise, and these podcasts really show that you are not alone in what you may be feeling or going through.
Let me know if you start listening to them – I would love to know what you think and which your favourites are!
To the boy in the blue shirt / fresh in my memory / and my heart. / Don’t tell me your words mean a thing / if you’re just going to stop and start. / Like traffic lights / red and green / you move / back and forth / unsure / murky / like dreams. / Like nothing / is ever / what it seems. / You and me / it’s still all blue / and in-between.
Another interesting month of lots of turning points… but here are the main ‘cultural’ highlights, as opposed to me contemplating upon the woes of existence (lol).
Also a huge thank you to everyone who reached out to me this month, just for a chat or to see how I was doing or to just let me know that they were thinking of me – it always takes me by surprise and makes me feel so grateful to know that I have so many wonderful people in my life ❤
Bopping to loads of stuff at the moment:
- The Weeknd – Starboy – such a good album! Late on the scene.
- Rihanna – her Anti album – again, late on the scene I know.
- Paris & Simo – been listening to ‘Keep Me Close’ – good track for the gym.
- Yo Trane – his album Late Night Drive – easy R&B listening I would say.
- Bruno Mars – 24k Magic album – this is obvs good.
- Ariana Grande – all albums on shuffle during a girls’ weekend in the Cotswolds (more below).
- Tove Lo – ‘Habits (Stay High)’ – such a good song for when you feel like shite!
- Tone Stith – still listening to his stuff.
- Tori Kelly – Unbreakable Smile album – for dem melancholy days.
- Jessie Ware – Tough Love album – melancholy days +++.
Currently awaiting DVSN‘s new album Morning After to drop. Their marketing is such a tease omg! They always release little trailers of their stuff excruciatingly slowly. I have also been continuing to listen to the Modern Love podcasts that I mentioned in my musings post last month. I will also be checking out some of these podcasts soon. Arianna Huffington shared them on her Facebook page, and I really like a lot of the stuff on her Thrive website so thought it would be interesting to give a few of these a listen.
I haven’t had time to do much reading this month beyond the Lonely Planet Edinburgh Pocket Guide on my Kindle lol. However, I was gifted two very special books by people – one, a beautiful notebook-style of Tyler Knott Gregson’s poetry by an old university friend – if you haven’t heard of him you MUST go and check out his Instagram RIGHT NOW. He shares a lot of his stuff on there, but the best stuff is his Typewriter Series, so look through and read those ❤ .
The other was an old, beautifully bound Victorian book of Robert Browning’s poetry, gifted to me by someone who entered my life for a brief period of time. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but plan on making some time to do so soon. If you know me, you know how much I treasure gifts, especially thoughtful ones like these. So thank you both – you know who you are – these put more than a real smile on my face, which is especially significant in what was another weird up and down month for me.
Literally had the most amazing time on my first ever solo trip! I fell in love with the place on pretty much the first day. I had the wonderful opportunity to stay at my friend’s flat (she literally lives 2 mins from the Royal Mile), which made it super easy for me to explore the city. The trip was super chilled and I loved my routine of of getting up early, going to a nice cafe, planning my day with a cup of coffee (americano with hot skimmed milk is my go to if you were wondering), exploring and eating (woo!), and then meeting up with my friend for dinner after she got back from work. Old uni friend also made the effort to visit me on the second day, and we had a great time traipsing about the quaint cobbled streets of Edinburgh, sitting inside the window of a lovely cafe and exploring one of the most beautiful second-hand (Victorian!) bookshops.
I managed to squeeze a lot in in a few days, with the help of the super helpful guidebook. I did all the standard stuff: Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Palace (although I didn’t get to climb up Arthur’s Seat because it started raining like mad but saw it from afar 😀 ), Princes Street Gardens, National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery etc. But I also – got super lucky – managed to catch a preview of a Fringe comedy. It was hilarious (I always get picked on in comedy shows, and as per usual, was picked on in the crowd!). Nazeem Hussain is the name, and lots of like brown/Muslim/Asian jokes in the context of living in Australia and having been on the show ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ ensued. It was really lovely because he came out after the show and found me outside to talk to me and my friend Zhuo’er. We also managed to catch a preview of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – which was quite the experience! It’s this huge showcase of performers from across the world. I would defo recommend it if you ever have the chance to see it – but don’t be stupid like me – make sure you wear a coat and not just a thin hoodie like I did! I also visited the main cafes that J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, which was lovely experience for me as an uber Potter fan, although I keep my fandom for most things low-key.
It was honestly the best place to for me to do my first ever solo trip, coz if you know me, then you know how useless I am at geography and directions and just navigating the basics of day-to-day life. I absolutely love Edinburgh; I found it to be the most romantic city, Scottish accents are actually super cute/sexy and the art scene is just <3. The trip will always be special to me and have a nostalgic feel to it, as I was getting to know someone new, and vice-versa, and learning and discovering things about myself that I had never really contemplated deeply before. All-in-all, one of my favourite trips to date and I can’t wait to go back again.
Girls weekend trip – long overdue. Booked a super-nice hotel and made the most of it by exploring the grounds and staying in. Lots of games, food and catching up ❤
Attended a friend’s wedding and then ended up exploring the city the next day because my friend’s car broke down. It’s not too shabby.
As you can see, been less anti-social this month, so yeh.
Game of Thrones
Obvs. Literally my love for Little Finger will never die. NEVERRR. The best part of GoT? Discussing it with people after you’ve watched it WHO HAVE ALSO WATCHED IT AT AN APPROPRIATE TIME AND NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT GODDAMN SPOILERS. WATCH IT ON TIME PPL OR GO AWAY.
Watched it in the cinema for its 20th anniversary. Still made me cry at the end which took me by surprise ngl. Still love the movie. Literally has everything a great movie should have – art, romance, psychology, water, Victorian values, a tragic ending.
Side-note: don’t watch a movie where the main character’s name has the same name as the person you are dating and * also * watching the movie with. Heh heh. Just don’t. LOOL. Hard to keep a straight face at certain scenes. Legit, I’m so immature sometimes. But that’s meeee.
Literally spent so much money on eating out this month I’m scared to look at my bank statements : / / /
Here are some visuals.
P.S. developed a love of egg tarts this month, not sure if it’s because food in Edinburgh tastes better than in the South, but I never really liked them before and now I’m kinda crazy for them. Tbh I like anything egg-related so it’s not too surprising.
P.S.S. Also had McDonald’s far too many times. I’m trying to squish this out of my memory. Anyone else realise how salty the stuff is? No wonder it’s soooo addictive ergh. I LOVE SALT.
HONESTLY ATE SO MUCH JUNK THIS MONTH WANNA CRY.
But I won’t.
I’ve had a number of things to be inspired by this month. Check out my attempts at poetic expression here:
Physical, mental, everything. “Health is wealth” as they say. Dunno if this is a random line from an old Bollywood movie or whatever, but this is what my main focus needs to be right now. So that means eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, getting enough down time, spending time with family and friends and those who add value to my life, and of course, more time at my favourite coffee shop ❤ Being unwell has meant that I haven’t been able to always navigate my relationships or myself around others as I normally would. Which has been a real shame. Those who knew me before I got unwell and then after, can certainly tell the difference in me as a person. I am getting better and I intend to make a full recovery, but it’s an ongoing struggle.
Also side-note: things don’t always work out when you meet someone new, especially when you’re trying to navigate aforementioned issues, and it can be upsetting but you just have to get over it. Squash yo feelings. I’m like a pro at that and it gets you through stuff peeps that’s all I’m saying. #lifeadvice
One of my key areas of focus as of recently. My art is a reflection of myself, my feelings, thoughts, my life events, etc. so many things. I used to worry that if anyone saw it they could see exactly what I was thinking, and the thought of that sort of terrified me. But now, I’m like – meh. People should be able to see or tell what you’re feeling. Art is expression. Otherwise, it’s sort of deadpan really. I’ve connected with so many people by sharing my art and now feel so much more confident about it; just looking through the pieces I’ve worked on this year, I can already see huge improvements in my style and technique. Which makes me 😀
I’ve also got my first commission for a friend – so excited to start on painting that!! Just ordered the canvas – going to be the biggest piece I’ve done to date. Hoping to finish that by the end of next week, so will share on social/next month blog’s post.
Hope August has been a good month for you – where is this year going!?! MAKE IT STAP.