Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 3) - Not Exactly 100 Things

I have not yet finished my list of a hundred items for The 100 Thing Challenge. Yet even though I am not counting, the idea has sparked in me a sense of awareness of any single item I use or think of buying. I am sure that if I were to take the challenge seriously, many items would easily get left out of the list if I needed to reduce on my total amount of things. Then again, I am not writing a book about the subject nor would I get any monetary compensation out of it (let's face it, Dave Bruno knew he would get a sum for his book so it was not such a big deal for him to part with things and then have to re-buy them later). As a single mum on a reduced hours pay I need to watch out for those items I might actually need in the future, despite being a Minimalist at heart. The twenty/twenty rule advocated by The Minimalists isn't very much in keeping with a budget containing one pay and two people. And so whilst I do plan on eventually finishing my list, if only out of curiosity and to be able to share it with my readers, I feel that even without such a list my outlook on things has already changed since starting Bruno's book. Furthermore, I do believe that regardless of that I won't be confining myself to a certain number of things in my life, I am anyway reducing always further the amount of things I actually care about. Now in my case I must admit I would never limit my wardrobe to x number of items (truth be told, I hated Project 333 so so badly even though I was totally fine later on KonMari-ing my wardrobe and probably dwindling my clothing items to less than the 132 it could encompass over 4 seasons of the Project.) I would also never keep my walls bare (I actually always wish I have more walls to put fave pieces on). That said, I feel that I am finding my footing very well with the whole idea of dwindling my number of possessions to as close to hundred as I comfortably can. Some of you might think that 'comfortably' is very much contrary to the very term Minimalism but Minimalism is about finding your own way and peace after all, hence why I call it comfortably, rather than taking it to mean abundance as some might think.

I end my short update here today, hoping you find my ideas and links useful, till next time.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Hope - A Blessing or A Curse?

I tend to hope a lot. I dream a lot too. One word is enough to set me off on a daydream to a whole fantasy story about what could or couldn’t, might or mightn’t, happen. The problem is that more often than not, my hopeful character tends to think that ‘could’ is more possible than ‘couldn’t’ once I put something in my head. Variables tend to get forgotten as I excitedly focus on possibilities I prefer and overlook the fact that nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

It’s happened to me with small things and bigger things, things I brushed off once they failed and experiences that conditioned the rest of my life. And yet I never learn.


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Meanwhile, I have a friend who is just the opposite. When asked a few days ago how come he is always in a good mood and frame of mind, his answer was a simple ‘I expect nothing’.  His reasoning was that, in expecting nothing, anything positive at all that happens is a gain and not just a part of an expectation or maybe even something that causes the feeling that the gain falls short of expectation.

So the real question is, should I hope or should I not? Hope, like money, is a good friend but an evil master. As with anything else, it is good in moderation. Then again, I am never moderate, in love, in life, in passion and compassion. For me everything is an all-or-nothing and I find it hardest to be something other than high on happiness else “in the depths of despair” as Anne of Green Gables would say.

This morning, as I lay in bed taking a last rest before starting my long day, my mind wandered to something that means a lot to me and about which I keep hoping and hoping for a positive outcome despite knowing it is the trickiest unlikeliest thing that could happen. Immediately I remembered my friend’s words. Never expect anything, I tried to convince myself. I reasoned it was the best I could do in order to avoid getting hurt. Only for a minute though, till my mind again fled to that secret place that is Wonderful Dreams Come True land, totally inexistent yet a source of everlasting carrots on a stick… you know, the kind you can never actually reach and eat. So I forced myself a second time to think that I should not expect anything. For a minute or so. Then it stopped working. My mind whirled round and round, the minutes kept ticking by to that nauseous time when I would have to get out of bed and still I kept hoping, and not expecting, hoping again then not expecting again. Round and round, over and over, very much like the pendulum of a clock as it slowly ticks away the seconds, minutes, hours and days of our life as I struggle still with the question - should I hope or should I not?

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Why You Should Become A Minimalist

In simple terms, Minimalism is about what makes you happier in life. So go ahead and fill your closet with shoes if they truly make you happy, but limit them if all they do is overwhelm you or hurt your feet.

Here are ten reasons to embrace Minimalism, in my latest article on eve.com.mt:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Twenty-Two Pairs of Shoes

I was talking to a friend from work and proudly said that I am a Minimalist. "Except for the clothes, handbags and shoes," I said. To which my friend asked just how many pairs of shoes I owned. I'd never counted. Yet seeing as someone asked, I then just had to count! Twenty-two pairs. However out of all those pairs I did own, there was not one pair of comfy sandals that I could safely wear whilst driving or when my knees hurt too much for heels. Unless you counted the one pair with the soles coming off. I admitted as much to my colleague who said there would soon be twenty-three pairs of shoes in my room then.

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No way! How could I let another pair sneak in when I was trying so hard to put down my number of possessions?! And so I did what I should have done sooner. I grabbed a pair of boots that cause me pain even to look at. Truth be told, these boots caused me no pain at all when I wore them. Last year. Before the summer. Before my make-over too. They were boots that made me feel goofy, unfashionable, with laces that kept coming undone, which made them a hazard. The new me argued that I could pull off those boots with the confidence I have now and they were still perfectly fine unless you counted the broken elastic on the back which was anyway hidden by the laces. Those laces. They came undone all the time. Repeatedly, I would squat to reach the back of my ankle boots in order to tie them up again. The image came to my mind, together with the one where once at work the COO actually pointed out that my laces were undone. Which was around the day I'd gone to work looking almost green as I was very sick. Around the time when some very personal trouble started in my life. That same time when I was so self-conscious of how little those boots did to make me confident, look good, desirable.

Those boots had no room in my new life, to be worn by my new self, a reminder as they were of what I would call darker ages. I didn't want the constant reminder that they belonged to an era when my outfits screamed despair. I'll keep my better-loved, still-worn, broken-zip knee highs instead.

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 2) - And So The List Begins

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I started on my list for The 100 Thing Challenge. Not that I am going to try it out or rather, not planning to necessarily do so. However as I mentioned last time, it will give me a clear picture of what I count as truly invaluable and what items do I forget about unless they are in plain sight. My list began with one of my most-prized possessions and which is the MacBookPro I am writing this post on. Second on my list is the iPhone SE that’s become invaluable for me to catch up with everything on the go. Although my car wasn’t the third entry, it should have been. It might be a little big to count as a personal possession and my son and mum do ride in it often, which might cause me to reconsider whether it is actually a personal item. However deep down I know that it is and not only that, I even know that I wouldn’t be myself without it. It’s a lovely wine colour with a rounded shape as well as having a steering wheel cover with embroidered flowers and leaves on it and I could go on and on about how much I love it and how I even gave it a name and talk to it almost every day. But truly none of that matters in this case as it is in my list for the more practical reason that I am a single mother who works far from home in a country where the public transport is so bad that no one could be patriotic enough to make me feel ashamed for saying this! (Read more about public transport experiences here: http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/11/12/all-in-a-bus-ride/)

Just like Dave Bruno did when he did the original challenge, I needed to set some rules if I was really going through with making this list. Not only would the items in the list be my personal ones and exclude immobile items such as the bed, but I would also allow for like items to be grouped together. After all, there was no way I was parting with any of my clothes or shoes just for the sake of the challenge and they alone would definitely reach a hundred items without leaving space for anything else! That said, my clothes got KonMari’d more than once and I can very proudly say I do only keep things that I love and wear and no extra items at all. Now shoes are a different story that get tackled in another article I plan on publishing after this one so keep tuned!

Having determined that my clothes were going to be counted as one item, I decided to group certain ‘like’ items together for the purpose of my list yet fairly list each type on its own. Therefore my clothes, shoes and handbags all got a separate line in my list as did make up, hair accessories and a category for accessories ‘excluding handbags’ as I have too many of those to fairly group with my scarves and belts.

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I would bore you to go into the details of each of my items that made the list although I do plan on eventually posting the whole list once I am done. So I will be finishing this entry now with one ironic twist. My hairdryer I’d quickly scribbled into my list as the fifth item, sitting higher up than even my car and DVDs in my original list that’s in the order in which I thought of the items in my head (and that says a lot about the indispensability of my hairdryer!) So what happens next? I diligently write it down on the Friday, only to have it break down the very following day. So much for indispensable, it left me with half a head of straight dry hair and the rest still in a frizzy wet mess. Geez, thanks dear pearly pink and white pretty item, I need a working pretty item!! I was already panicking about what to do when I remembered mum has a hairdryer and I am currently living with her so off I went to get my saving item and continued drying my hair. Only afterwards did I think there might be something wrong with the fuse rather than the drier and lo and behold, changing the adaptor made it work again. Phew. My number five item still works and now I even learnt just how much I want it in my list. Truly worth a place in my 100 things list.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Girl Before - The Best-Written Book Ever IMO

Here's the link to the review I wrote for eve.com.mt about what I now consider to be the best-written book ever from a technical side. As always, a thank you to my sponsor Agenda Bookshop.



Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 1) - Should I take the challenge?

When I first came across a mention of the book The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno, I thought he must be one of those extreme minimalists who had put me off Minimalism in the first place. Then I stumbled across another mention of the book when I was well into my journey into Minimalism and was looking for inspiration to downsize more in a bid to clear more of my life and mind of all the accumulated stuff and commitments that were still bogging me down. This time round, I was interested in buying the book but solely as motivation to living with even less and definitely never with the idea that I would try the challenge myself.

However, with book in hand and around the fifth chapter, I started thinking it might be an interesting challenge to try out and learn from after all. Still skeptical that a 100 personal items might not cover all that I considered to be ‘needs’, I finally had an eureka moment this morning and thought I might still benefit from the challenge even without trying it out myself.
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My idea is a simple one and involves no personal sacrifice unless I decide at the end that I do want to go for it after all. I decided to put to good use one of the many pretty but still empty journals that I can’t get myself to part with. I would start listing from memory the personal items I would definitely not want to part with and see to what number that would get me, even before I start going through my things one by one in a bid to not only remove the excess but also get an idea of how many personal items I actually do own.

Waste of time? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I know myself enough to feel that this exercise would actually help me not just literally quantify my belongings but also make me more mindful of what possessions I do consider indispensable. Most probably most of these will be in the first list I mentioned - the one I can list from memory - which might help push me into reducing more of what isn’t, after all, something I consider a need.

I am not expecting to become the next Leo Babauta after this challenge. I am not sure I will even get to the point where I am willing to take on the challenge myself. Whatever difference this exercise will make, however, I am sure that it will help me learn something more about myself and my interaction and relationship with ‘things’.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Seven Bags Full

I live in Marsaskala, which used to be a fishing village but has now grown into a town that gets inundated with outsiders every Sunday in the winters and all through the week in the summer.

As a result, the restaurants in my town are always full of business. This translates into massive amounts of garbage for the truck to pick up, daily in our case, as the schedule in Marsaskala is for 'normal' garbage pick-up to occur on every day of the week including Sundays and most feasts. By 'normal' I mean non-recyclable here.

In some towns and villages a pilot program started quite a while ago asking residents to separate not only recyclables from the rest of the garbage but also to put compostable material in a third bag that would be picked up on allotted days. Unfortunately this new program is yet to reach my town. Which makes me wonder why wouldn't a town that generates so much in compostable garbage through restaurants and take-aways not be considered for the pilot program, if only to avoid more years of throwing the material away rather than try to minimise waste.

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I decided to write this article only tonight when, out for a walk with my family, we passed by one of the restaurants close to the beach and I noticed seven huge garbage bags on the pavement just outside it, waiting to be picked up by the truck tomorrow morning. I can definitely understand that such a business would generate an amount of garbage and also the fact that Sundays are busy days for the restaurant. What I cannot fathom is how come there were SEVEN mountainous bags of garbage.

I can only gather that the restaurant might not even separate the recyclable stuff from the rest of it, especially since I did glimpse a white plate through one of the semi-transparent bags that was most definitely a paper or plastic one.

This kind of thing worries me for two reasons. Firstly, are people still so uneducated about the repercussions of not taking care of our environment? And secondly, recyclable or not, why are businesses even still using disposable items to such an extent?

I can understand the limitations of the venue in providing certain items in reusable materials. It is definitely unhygienic to provide non-disposable straws to customers and dangerous to give little children metal forks and glass or ceramic plates and glasses. I am also a fan of the doggie bag over throwing leftovers away so I excuse a certain amount of disposable packaging items if they help reduce on food waste. However I am sure there are some items that could easily be replaced by restaurants with more environment-friendly options. Add to this, I am sure that the patrons themselves could easily help the effort in small ways such as by carrying their own stainless steel straw and refusing to take a plastic one provided by the venue. In the same way, one can easily carry a warmth-retaining lidded cup and ask that it be filled up at the coffee shop rather than accepting a polystyrene one. The list of ways in which we can not only recycle, but preferably even reduce the amount of recyclable material we use up, is next to endless. So whilst I will stop my post here for today, I will definitely be back with more about how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The 'I love' Series - Poetry

I am a writer. I guess I could say I've always been. The very first story I wrote was called The Dance; I must have been somewhere between nine and eleven years old at the time.

The poetry came later; I only discovered my love for it after the tedious years of studying The Dragon Book of Verse with its multiple themes and the nauseating hours spent trying to figure out why I was meant to study it at all.
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I was sixteen years old when I feel in love with Wilfred Owen's poetry. Somehow it spoke to me. Images of blown-up bodies and mental cases do not connote much with long-haired girls wearing pretty skirts and in love with nail polish. Yet those pararhymes - half-rhymes if you will - spoke to the realist in me as nothing else ever had, awakening a sense of beauty in the mundane and sensible that finally could be expressed in accurate terms.

Prose can say a lot of things we wouldn't dare to speak. Yet it is limited in its ability to tackle any subject as accurately as poetry does. Moreover, poetry allows for playing around with words to help clear the mind of the jumble of thoughts and imagery that freely roam the otherwise restricted and rigid confines of the brain. Maybe that's why we are told we should lead with the heart but follow with the mind. For sensibility does need to somehow prevail even in the life of an artist, but only once the heart and so the poetry has first had its say.

I should admit, I don't just write whole poems. At times, I write a few simple lines to describe just about anything, real and surreal, especially that which will torture the mind if left unsaid. Because that's what poetry is really there for now, isn't it?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Would You Like To Join... A Case of Cabaret?

For the past couple of years, I have had the pleasure of liasing with the team behind theatre company DLS Productions in order to give my readers information about some of their upcoming plays.

Theirs is an assortment of productions that border on the experimental at times and on the superb always. This time, six actors take to the stage or rather, the café, to present an immersive show that will no doubt live up to the theatre company’s record of fabulous interpretations.

For ladies and gentlemen, The Undercroft Cafe in Old Theatre Street, Valletta (Malta) has been turned into the seedy nightclub The Black Alley, where amid the wine, song and dance, the characters go through a series of events, including one death, as the seated audience try to guess whodunnit.

A live music show filled with popular classics awaits the audience of A Case of Cabaret. Starring an all-professional cast of actors/singers/dancers that have in the past brought us the likes of Carmen: The Rock Musical and Belliegha Rockin’ The Underworld, this musical murder mystery is an interactive show for audiences aged fourteen and over.



Starring
Sean Borg; Nikki Vella; Stefania Grech Vella; James Camilleri; Yandrick Agius; Rachel Vella

Script and Artistic Direction
Lucienne Camilleri; Edited by Maria Agius

Music Direction
Norbert Borg


At: The Undercroft Cafe, St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral, Old Theatre Street, Valletta
Time: Doors open at 19:00; Show starts at 20:00
Tickets from: ticketline.com.mt

Further info:

Audience will be seated at tables for 4 people. Multiple ticket sales within the same booking will be automatically grouped together. Tables may be shared with third parties.


Access to the venue is through a staircase (around 10 steps) on Old Theatre Street, Valletta


                     

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Perfect Selfie

I started out writing about selfies a couple weeks ago, sharing with my readers an assortment of badly taken photos and ranting about how I can never get it right. You may read about it here if you missed it: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-but-any-good-ones.html

Fast forward one week and two helpful comments from a reader, I wrote an unplanned follow-up post about the subject in which I shared some better if still unprofessional pics together with some observations I made. Here's a link to this second post: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-continued.html

Once again my reader commented on my updated pics and musings. I must thank him for after reading through that third comment I finally managed one single, in my opinion 'perfect' photo so here I am sharing it:



Sunday, 15 April 2018

Selfies Galore... Continued

Following my rant last time about never getting selfies quite right, as well as the lovely informative comments from one of my readers, I am now back with some selfies that are much better than the previous ones, if I may say it myself.

For those who missed last week's post, here it is again: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-but-any-good-ones.html

As my reader advised, it does seem like it is mostly about getting the right angle as well as being confident in front of the camera. I have not yet exactly mastered smiling in self-taken photos but I think I've come a long way, again because of said confidence. Once I decided that my face was looking good in the selfies, however, I started noting all the other mistakes I make in taking the photos, this time a problem with background, particular items or even the lighting.

So after posing for the perfect photo wearing a new top and on the way to an important meeting, I found myself looking at a snapshot that had one minor flaw, a clothes hanger left in the background! Try as I might, I couldn't reproduce that shot after I removed said offending hanger. Same type of issue appeared when I wore my photochromic specs in a pic. They were dark enough not to let my eyes show properly, yet not dark enough to conceal them, leaving me with a picture that attracted attention to that very fact more than anything else in the composition. Another frustrating thing I've noticed is that sometimes, the background is too similar to my hair colour or that of my clothes and seems to cause an anti-climatic effect. Again, trust my camera skills to fall short once I move a few steps to take the same picture on a different background.

I noted other small details like how it is difficult to make my blowdried hair appear perfect in pics whilst with curly locks I am able to get decent pics every time. The reason is probably that curls are in themselves unruly, imperfect, asymmetrical, whilst straight hair can very easily look out of place.

However, I still find that the most important detail in a selfie seems to be the lips and therefore the smile. I am smiling in most of the best pictures whilst those pictures that seem otherwise perfect always fall short of perfection when I am not smiling in them.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Selfies Galore... But Any Good Ones?!

I have a friend who takes amazing selfies. Yeah I actually did ask once or twice would he please tell me how can a selfie turn out that good.

There is something called being photogenic apparently. Ok I knew that existed but never before did I know that being photogenic is totally unrelated to being pretty or handsome. You read that right. The most beautiful girl in the world might actually not be photogenic at all!! It is all about the contours of the face and how they will 'flatten' out in a 2D pic. Maybe that is why I always think about another friend's pics that they don't do him justice whilst his videos make him look totally different to the pics.

I have a roundish face and most of my selfies look pudgy to me. Erm, I think my version is actually better than 'nerdy', which I got told as well. People comment I look nothing like my pics and I never could figure that one out as to me I look just like, well, me!

Given I have a round face, that I always seem to choose the wrong angle (or so I get told!) and that I tend to look too serious when I am taking my own pic (I'm trying to concentrate on that angle, right?!) I do look quite not up to scratch in pics. To be fair, the back camera of a phone seems to magnify facial blemishes too, have you ever noticed that?! On the other hand I have also noticed that when I am not the only one in the pic, I tend to look better. You could argue that I might be standing next to someone who looks worse than me in the pics but given most of the time that other person is my dear gorgeous son, I rather think it's a matter of holding the camera far enough to fit both of us in the photo that does the trick.

I won't be sharing any pics of myself with my son as I have some self-made privacy rules on here but I am going to share a few of my selfies. Maybe you can judge for yourself how badly I can take them. Feel free to post your comments below.


Top Left - pudgy face (taken face up on bed)
Bottom Left - actual smile (taken with Photo Booth which makes it easier to take good selfies)
PS - No, I am NOT naked in the bottom left pic, my hair is covering the straps of my top!!



Saturday, 31 March 2018

Love and Hate - Makeup

I once wrote a blog post about some fave makeup items and mentioned budget-friendly brand essence as one of my go-to brands. However today my post is more particular and is a bad review I guess you could say. Sometimes, even good brands get it wrong. So here are two items I suggest you leave out of your shopping cart and what to replace them with.


1 - the get BIG! LASHES volume-boost waterproof mascara by essence.

When my 'normal' waterproof mascara finished, also from essence, I decided to go bolder and try this one. Bigger lashes? More like clumpy ones and ruined my own lovely long ones in the process!!

My solution: back to basics, bought my trusty essence 'all eyes on me' waterproof version once again.

2 - heart-shaped essence lipstick.

It was a special edition, a truly delectable colour and suited me so so well, especially as it is in a violet tint that matches a lot of summer clothes I love as well as looks good on me, unlike some other hues. So truly, there was nothing wrong with this lipstick except for one very important detail... heart-shaped might look cute but truly, it is a nightmare to paint my lips the right shape with it!

My solution: In the end I gave up, stopped using it and now bought the closest colour I could to it in a not-special-edition with 'normal' tip-shape.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Reviewing '36 Questions that changed my mind about You.

They say love comes along when you least expect it to and it may well be true. However just like there have been experiments about a zillion other emotions and conditions, there have been studies conducted about love too and it seems that given the right scenario, any two people are more likely to fall in love when they answer the '36 Questions'. Vicki Grant used these experimental questions as the basis for her novel and has us wondering up to the last, will they cause her subjects to truly fall in love?

Read my review, now on EVE:

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Any Human Heart - The Film Series (2010)

It could be any human heart. That's what comes to mind whenever I rewatch the series
based on William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart, although the title is apparently taken from a quote by Henry James.

I have searched high and low for a second hand copy of the film tie-in edition of the book and have only just this week been lucky in my search. Therefore whilst I have watched the series three times, I am still to read the novel. It received mixed reviews but that never bothers me because any artistic rather than mainstream writing will get that reaction. Rather, I look forward to reading what has been described as an erratic narrative, in keeping with the idea that the story is seen not only through the eyes of the protagonist Logan Mountstuart as he goes about his life, but also in journal format so that the present is always that which matters, sometimes totally disjointed from the past and with a changing agenda. Unlike a memoir, a journal also allows the narrator to focus on the now without knowing the future yet, whilst the memoir would be reminiscing and comparing and contrasting or looking at things with a view to what will come next.

As always, I tried to do some research prior to writing this piece and it was interesting what info came up in my search. It seems like the writer Boyd and myself have one fascination in common, both of us being intrigued and enamoured of the idea of the life of any human and how it can be explored in writing. Boyd uses the journal style to give the writing the immediacy of present happenings, therefore bringing us closer to the protagonist.

The well-known phrase 'we are all human' implies that we all make mistakes. Humans are flawed by nature. Maybe the real appeal of this series is that we get to see Logan blunder through life from the safety of our own seat. We are privy to his disasters and achievements, lust and love and sadness, without being affected ourselves by the multiple decisions he takes along the way.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS PARA! The plot, if you can so name it, spans the lifetime of a person whose legacy, ironically, is only sealed after his death. He is a writer, one that toyed with writer's block more than actually wrote books it seems, and yet at the end of it his life proved to be his biggest masterpiece.

However even as I state that the series is about a man's life first and foremost, I can't but comment that Logan's life was full of 'love' if we could call it that. There seems to be a recurring theme in films and books that once yo've found your one true love, no one else will ever come close and this mirrors reality in my opinion. SPOILER ALERT THIS PARA! So Logan loses his virginity to his best friend's girlfriend then beds Land, marries Lottie before finding his one true love in Freya and eventually must deal with the tragic end to his very dear marriage to this second wife. He goes into a disastrous third marriage with a cold American woman, one that is short-lived in part due to the ongoing effects on his mind from losing his treasured Freya and their daughter Stella whilst he was a prisoner of war. It is at this point he lets go of looking for love and instead turns to Monday and eventually Gloria for something that is passionate and glorious in its irresponsability and finds peace in not looking for a replacement but embracing instead the fact that he'd lived his one big love story already.

I am sure that once I read the book I will find that there are variations in the film series to the original text. Having viewed before reading this extraordinary tale, I am free to give my opinion on the script and screen interpretation without being hindered by the comparisons and contrasts that will surely cloud my opinion once I have also read Boyd's novel. Therefore I will allow myself to say that, as a stand-alone series not reliant on any previous written version, Any Human Heart strikes me as a well-thought-out and gripping tale that any fan of artsy films will surely enjoy, especially those of us who love to examine the average human life.

                      

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

On The Death of Stephen Hawking

On days such as this many articles and comments appear all over the internet about the deceased. Some are intelligent observations, others merely thoughts that people post because after all, media is about freedom of speech. I will personally not be writing a eulogy as I don't believe in writing about people, things or situations I am not familiar enough with.

However I am very familiar with the film The Theory of Everything (2014) that strives to present the story of the man and the genius and spans decades of the scientist's life. Based on Jane Hawking's Travelling to Infinity, it deals not only with the professional achievements but also the personal life of Professor Hawking. About this film I have written two articles so here are the links to a) a review about the film and b) a clarification of deviations from the original facts to the ones in the film.

Review of The Theory of Everything:

Inaccurate facts in the film The Theory of Everything:

Monday, 5 March 2018

Update to my February Cash-Only Experiment

So February has ended and with it my experiment for a cash-only month. I have to admit I cheated a little bit but learnt a lot too.

I did manage to keep myself from buying anything online and therefore with a credit card. Except for one little thing. My son asks for many things and I often refuse to give him what he wants unless it is an actual need. However as a treat for respecting my decision to say no to most of his requests, I finally allowed him one purchase I knew would mean a lot to him. It was close enough to the end of the moth that the item arrived in March and so in a way I did stick to the no credit-card February as I actually paid it in March. Add to that, I do keep a small budget for treats so as such I did not go out of line of the budget.

Meanwhile, I did say last time that I intended to avoid using even a debit card at cash points for the month of February, excluding for biggish purchases. Well I stepped into a JB Stores to get thick coat hangers and voila' I was out of there with a bagful of stuff. Meaningful stuff mind you, that I would definitely be using in my new home, and yet stuff that I didn't have enough cash in my purse to pay for and so out came the debit card. As you might remember, I had said that I never carry much cash on my person and so it is only obvious that I do use my debit card here and there but still my purchases were not budgeted for in this case.

Other than for these two 'mishaps' if they may so be called, I have to proudly advise I used cash extensively through the month. Yet I don't think I can really report having bettered my savings in so doing. If anything, it is more of a headache to need to keep cash on hand at all times as I am not often aware from the morning as to when I am actually going to stop for groceries or need to buy a lunch or even when I will need a trip to the pharmacy.

On the other hand, I did find it easier to not have to continually update my spreadsheet with money taken through using the debit card and needing to keep track of the bank's updates since they don't post such transactions on the same day they are made, therefore leaving me with a bigger balance showing than the one on my spreadsheet and unable to reconcile properly.

Now that we started March, I have decided to pay cash whenever I can in order to avoid this problem with the bank balance updates and yet won't be going out of my way to pay cash at all times.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Watching A Classic - Forrest Gump (1994)

It created a lot of hype when released and went on to gain Tom Hanks his back-to-back Oscars in 1995, a feat no other actor has managed since. The film itself beat Four Weddings and a Funeral to the Best Picture Oscar and gained 45 awards in all, from Golden Globes to a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award to an Amanda Award from Norway.

Despite being a classic and one that outdid my fave of the year Four Weddings and a Funeral to the Best Picture Academy Award, I had none the less got through my years since without so much as a peak at this positively-reviewed drama (if you may call it that?)

It all changed this week when, on someone's recommendation, I watched it for a first time. I started out expectant, lost interest at its long-winded narrative and then ended in buckets of tears as Forrest and Jenny's star-crossed lovers plot reminded me very much of my biggest love story. Which is to say, at the end of it, the film was a success in my books.

It has been defined as satire, suggested to be a story through the eyes of innocence in the form of a simple man and even described as a walk through of the USA's historical events and fads of Gump's and Jenny's lifetime. I believe that above everything else, I would call it a character study that incorporates life's possibilities, probabilities and hinderances in an experiment to see what Hank's Forrest would do with them all.

SPOILERS ALERT - I mentioned earlier Forrest and Jenny's romance, if it could be so called as long as it was one-sided. From their initial bonding over being different to their prayer in the field as they hide from Jenny's dad, from Forrest's protectiveness towards his sweetheart to his naming the whole fleet of shrimping boats 'Jenny', this was one love affair that was sure to succeed at the end. Even as Jenny sank further and further into a life she felt made her unworthy of her childhood friend's unconditional love, an invisible string seemed to keep them coming back to each other to cross paths again, at times coincidentally and at others out of their own sheer will. Even from the beginning, as Hanks sat on the outdoor bench relating his character's story through the eyes of one with an IQ of 75, that box of chocolates sitting in his lap attracted my attention time and again, not for his borrowed phrase that life is much like a chocolate box, with a surprise taste with each choice you make, but rather because it had to signify something.

True enough, he was on the way to Jenny's even as he related the tale. I never expected Gump to be her son's dad, especially since the film only hinted at and never revealed did Jenny and Forrest sleep together on that last night before she disappeared from his life again. Which leads me to what was for me one of the most moving moments in the film. When Forrest finds himself alone again after that special night with Jenny in his arms, he is unable to take the normality of his life any more and so he runs; maybe not runs away exactly, but runs without direction nonetheless. Truly, any of us who have lost the love of someone that meant much to them would know how directionless and haphazard our life becomes after that.

I mentioned that this is satire, a story about innocence, a character study, and a historical walk of events. Above all else, in my opinion, I would class it as a love story that will remain relevant through the years. Gump might serve in Vietnam, win at ping-pong and run across multiple States of the USA, but it is all done through his love of Jenny and for his love of Jenny; the one meaning in the chaos of life. Could that be why he bulldozes Jenny's father's house at the end? More than to destroy that place which had caused Jenny not only pain but a life of regret, maybe he destroyed it to remove that one thing that had led her astray from his arms for so long.

I would above all else, call this the eternal romance of innocence and experience intertwined. After all, that is why it probably resonates with viewers to the point of being still remembered twenty-three and a half years later as soon as I mention it by name. Forrest Gump will never die in film-goers' hearts.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

More Tips to a Confident You

A few weeks ago I posted a link to my article 'A Resolution to Look and Feel Better Every Day' and today I will be linking another article that also talks about simple tips that will make a huge difference to a girl's confidence. So here it is, my Part 2:

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Alone on Valentine’s Day

https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/
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It’s a day for chocolates and roses, cards and gifts. Or for those of us who are Minimalists at least a romantic day set up beforehand to make more time and give more attention to our better half - a reminder really - of something we should strive for daily anyway.

All the above however count only for the couples, and not me for the first time since 1999. So this is going to be one dedicated to singletons rather.

I used to be a smug married, as Bridget Jones would say. Jokes apart, I have to admit, I really was! Somehow, for good or bad, being married meant having another half with whom to share it all. Now I am on the other side of the table and the phrase that comes to mind is from The Wedding Singer (1998) where Adam Sandler’s character, newly dumped at the altar, sings ‘Love Stinks’. Oh how it does!

When it goes wrong, it stinks worse than cigarettes and onion breath rolled into one and dumped on a Maltese bus seat amid the sweat and stink of socks. Because it leaves you all alone, regretting or craving it, maybe even both all at once.

Yes I am single but I am here writing on behalf of all those going through the five stages of grief following a breakup (or even two!)

All the happy photos of couples that I scroll through on my Facebook make me want to make a mental note to avoid mindlessly hitting the app icon for the day. Probably even Google will have to be avoided if their illustrator comes up with something soppy enough for the main page of the search engine.

Bitter? I ain’t, not really. I am trying hard to get comfortable in my own skin after almost two decades of sharing it with someone and wearing their own skin on mine. I am also trying to be objective about the most irrationally subjective topic in life:

https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/
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LOVE. Is it only a four-letter word? Or is there more to it? As they say in my language, the dog that’s already been scalded will think all water is boiling hot. Or a more apt way to put it would be to use the English equivalent of ‘Once bitten, twice shy’.


Will I find love again? After all, what is love really at the end of it? Some think of it as companionship, stability, trust. I am more passionate than that and I mean this character-wise, for passion is not always about sex. I need something more than to just settle. I need to look into someone’s eyes and ‘know’ it will work, or at least can work, if we both want it to.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Books Worth Your Money

For the first ever time on my blog, I am actually selling something. I currently have quite a few books to sell as I slowly pack up all my stuff from our current matrimonial home and start my new life as a single mum, temporarily at mum's with very little space to put my things. However, as some of you who follow me might know by now, it is very usual for me to part with books once I am done with them, simply for the reason that I always live lightly and have no need for books that will sit on my shelves unless I plan on reading or re-reading them. I have to admit sometimes I part with books before even finishing them because one of my rules is to never waste time on anything that I do not believe to be useful or interesting. Unfortunately sometimes it is also the case that despite actually being interested in the book, I might anyway not have time to go through it as I struggle to get caught up with other books that I might need to read to a deadline or that I need to re-read as research before writing some article. You might wonder why I don't keep such books to the side to read some day and my answer to that is very simple. I very much agree with Marie Kondo's remark that unless you read a book soon after it reaches your home, you likely never will. Unread books tend to blend in the background yet still constantly send us warning signs that we are yet to give them the attention they deserve, causing unnecessary clutter in our minds despite not being important enough for us to have given them more attention.

That is not to say that I am only selling unread books right now, as I tend to read most books only once and rarely do I feel any of them deserve a place in my Hall of Fame, ie a shelf/cupboard space in my home. As I said, I feel better when I live lightly and in order to do that, I must let things go. It also helps that the less books are on the shelves the less tiring it is to dust both the shelving and my book collection. So here are a few of the books I am currently looking to part with. I am not in a position to ship abroad due to ridiculously high postage costs so this offer is only for people living in Malta, pick-up only. Here goes:

goodbye, things (Fumio Sasaki)
I have read this one through and would suggest it to a budding Minimalist though as I once mentioned in another post, this is not one for those who've been on the journey to living with less for a long time already.
Selling for EUR5

The Productivity Project (Chris Bailey)
I looked up and bought this book after being inspired by the author's TEDx Talk. However, a TEDx Talk is only 17 minutes whilst his book is one long read with a heavy subject so I unfortunately had to leave it on the back burner for so long it lost its allure. I can confirm however that what little I read of it was quite interesting and never left my mind.
Selling for EUR5

Bridget Jones's Baby - The Diaries (Helen Fielding)
I reviewed this one on EVE a while ago, giving it a positive review (which you may read here: http://www.eve.com.mt/2017/03/10/bridget-jones-baby-a-book-review/). I may be selling this one, but not exactly parting with it! The one reason this is on my to-sell list is because the copy I own does not match the other three books I have in the series so I would like to sell this hardbound copy to replace it with the paperback version.
Selling for EUR9


Send me an email on giseles84@gmail.com if you would like me to reserve any of the above-mentioned books. However pick-up needs to happen by end of February latest.

Meanwhile, since we are on the topic of books, here is a link to my ever-growing page on Facebook about totally anything book-related: https://www.facebook.com/TheBookRetreat/