Saturday, 31 January 2015

Life Edit: January

And just like that the first month of the year 2015 has come to an end. Is it just me or does time seem to be moving a lot quicker than normal? Before you know it it will be Easter, then summer and then Christmas time. Okay, maybe I am getting ahead of myself just a little. Anyway, as it is the last day of January I thought I'd stop by, check in with all of you and let you in on what went down this month in my neck of the web... woods... yeah. A little heads up - a might be a long one...

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I kick-started this year by giving myself a clean slate and making the conscious decision to start moulding myself into who I want to be. The quote 'Life is not about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself' that I came across last December has not strayed to far from my mind this month as I embark on this journey of "creating self". I figured what better place to start than with my mind & body. 
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I am so pleased that I took part in Adriene's (from Yoga with Adriene - you should really check her out!) 30 Days of Yoga series as it really loosened up both my mind and body and encouraged me to let go and find inner balance. Although I must say my balance still needs a bit of work haha. But instead of getting frustrated at the fact that I can't quite do the tree pose without meeting the floor 20s later like I used to, I now laugh and smile through this stage I'm at and and look forward to the day that I am able to do it with ease. I can quite comfortably say that I feel a lot better about myself and my future than I did a few months ago. I know it has only been a little while and that everyone gets bad days but, what I have learnt so far is staying connected to the best version of myself... to peace & positivity... and finding the good amongst the bad. I can only hope I build on this and get better at starting and ending my days with a smile. 
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Beginning your day with a yoga practise or a Pilates workout really can do wonders if you are stressed out and feeling imprisoned by circumstances that may be out of your control or those you do not think you are strong enough to handle just yet. Trust me. I cannot recommend you try it, at least once, enough. Even if you feel a bit silly as you work your way through the workout, you will find your mood sway closer and closer to that of a positive one.

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I was able to cross of one of my goals for this year off quite early on - the 5th of January to be exact. I finally passed my practical driving test!!! Go me!!! Haha. It still makes me smile every time I think about it because it has been a long time coming. And I mean a loooong time coming. Let me give you a bit of a back story: the first time I sat in the front seat of a car and was actually told to turn on the ignition - once I'd done all my checks of course :P - was back in the summer of '09. That's right folks, 2009. That is indeed almost 6 years ago. To be fair my lessons were on and off up until last year. I always seemed to do them during the summer and just when I felt ready enough to take the test I was off to uni only to return the following year less confident. Last year I promised myself I'll actually book the test and get it over and done with which I did...three times :/. 
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The first time I failed didn't really bother me as I was just happy I finally took the test. The second time I failed pizzed me off slightly as it was due to me stalling (something I hadn't done since my first ever couple of lessons!!) at a set of traffic lights and not recovering quick enough - those pesky nerves! And then the third time I failed, I was extremely annoyed because I was not even nervous this time but something about my driving gave the examiner reason enough not to give me a pass. But I was determined not to give up and believed that the next time I took the test I'd pass it and so I did. There was a lot of sipping of water and breathing exercises during the test that caused my examiner to chuckle a lot but this time my driving caused this examiner to request for my provisional license and hand me the documents pictured above. After that moment I felt so accomplished I had no idea what my next goal to cross off was going to be as I was utterly content. 
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If you are in the process of getting your driver's license and scared of failing don't be. Yes, it will be expensive - my goodness it is! - and slightly annoying and/or embarrassing but you will still learn a few things every time and one day you will be able to pass your test; just keep on going!

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So, with my days of failing practical driving tests long behind me I decided that the next sensible goal to tackle would be the one where I train to be able to run 5K without stopping every 30s gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water. I know. Crazy. I blame Anna (from ViviannaDoesMakeup) for this one with all her down-to-earth and sometimes funny chats about how she picked up running. I think I have a bit of a girl crush on her to be honest; she's just so funny and cool and I know(!) I'm not alone in thinking this. Anyway, back to me for a slow second... I popped into a number of sports stores during the Christmas/January sales and ended up with a new pair of trainers and some suitable pieces of clothes to run in during this cold winter period. I thought I was a bit nutty to start running when the temperatures are below 10° (Celsius folks! I work in Celsius lol) but then I thought better that than running when its hot and humid. And though I class myself as a complete beginner and thought it quite daunting at first, I remembered how much fun I had last year prepping for and participating in the Color Run and figured I could find running fun again. And I have! I am currently using the Nike+ Running app and following their 5K Beginner training program. It's been 4 weeks since I've started and I am loving it. Music plays a huge part though as I'm not sure my attention span would permit me to run for more than 10m without some tunes spurring me on. I really need to sit down and create a killer running playlist myself but in the meantime, I have been listening to a lot of Afrobeats, Sia, Mark Ronson, Clean Bandit (& Jess Glynne) and Beyonce. 
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It has not been easy but I have noticed that when I stretch properly (i.e. for more than 10 mins) before my run, body moves more harmoniously and when I stretch after my run, my body doesn't seize up and my knees don't feel like they are about to give up on me. I do think I need some new insoles though - some extra support can't hurt. If you are thinking of taking up running this year do it! It can be quite freeing... and slightly painful...but mostly rewarding. 

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All in all, January has been a great month and I cannot wait to find out what February has to bring. I have of course set myself some more challenges and will definitely keep you updated. After reading through your entries from WML's reader survey (thank you so much to those who filled it in!!), it has come to my attention that your favourite posts are the ones about movies, TV shows, my creative writing (which surprised me!) and me. I have taken all your comments on board and hope to incorporate more personal, creative writing & TV shows posts in the future. I think we can all agree that I have the films section down to at least an S. If you did read the whole post I applaud you as that could not have been easy. I know for some people in the world January did not start off on the right foot at all but I would really like to here what January brought your way. 

Mo x

                

Monday, 26 January 2015

Movie Mondays: Whiplash

This movie completely blew me away. It is definitely one of those films that have your mouth open for most of it if not all. I managed to get my butt down to the Cornerhouse again last Tuesday to watch Whiplash with Emily and it was exactly what I needed.

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Source: Sony Pictures Classics
Intense. Captivating. Inspiring. Those are three words I'd use to describe this beautiful film about an aspiring musician who wants to be one the greats and will do just about anything to make that dream a reality. Damien Chazelle (Grand PianoGuy and Madeline on a Park Bench) not only wrote the awe-inducing script for Whiplash but directed it too. This film - which was shot in 19 days!! - had me feeling guilty, amazed, shocked, empowered and slightly out of breath by the end of it. And the music! Oh wow! I mean, the drums have always been one of my favourite instruments but goodness me do I have a deeeeeper appreciation for the sound they are capable producing under the direction of a drummer who is in tune with the pure magic of music.

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Source: Sony Pictures Classics
The pace of this film is both slow and fast and gives your attention little to no chance of playing hard to get. There is a dark element to it as well which to me was enhanced by the minimal use of natural light as were the heightened emotions of the characters. Speaking of characters, Miles Teller (Two Night Stand; Divergent; Footloose) and J.K. Simmons (The Closer; Up in the AirSpider-man) gave such hair-raising performances as Andrew and Fletcher that it was incredible easy to be swept up by the world Damien Chazelle created which was birthed from of his own personal experiences as  a drummer. 

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Despite whatever kind of genre of film is your favourite, if you have the opportunity to see Whiplash take it. It is a story that has the power to make you get up the next morning and attempt to be better than who you were yesterday; at least that is how it made me feel. Plus, the soundtrack for this film is one that you'll want to listen to on repeat.

Mo x

                

Monday, 19 January 2015

Movie Mondays: Birdman

Where do I even begin with this film? I mean it has been two days since I saw Birdman at the Cornerhouse with Emily and I still cannot quite articulate my thoughts on it which of course is making this post quite hard to write. But to be fair, I hardly share all that much about the films I see... Who knew not sharing spoilers would come in handy? Ha! 

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Source: Fox Searchlight Picture
Have you ever watched a film that you know is a good but you not entirely sure why its good? Well, to me, Birdman is that kind of movie. I do know that I found it very entertaining and weird and visually pleasing and confusing and refreshing and not at all like a "typical" film. It may take you a while to wrap your head around it but I have a feeling it will steal a chuckle from you at least once. For those of you who who have no idea what Birdman is about, I shall take this moment to attempt to share a little something:

Birdman is the tale of a man called Riggan Thomson who once had the taste of fame and is now trying to regain the sense of purpose he felt at the height of his acting career whilst attempting to keep hold of his family. The unique and funny script, written by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Biutiful), Nicolás Giacobone (The Last ElvisBiutiful), Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo (The Last ElvisBiutiful), was made into a film under the direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu. It is an artistic project that has its fair share of dramatic, emotional and comedic moments that take hold of your attention until the credits roll around and gives us a seemingly honest insight into the world of acting and the inner battles we all face. I feel like it goes without saying but the cinematography and editing for Birdman were indeed stunning and seamless.

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Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Starring Andrea Riseborough (OblivionMade in Dagenham; Never Let Me Go), Edward Norton (The Illusionist; The IncredibleHulk; Fight Club), Emma Stone (Magic in the MoonlightThe Amazing Spider-Man; Easy A), Lindsay Duncan (The Honourable Woman; Sherlock; About Time), Michael Keaton (Herbie Fully LoadedFirst Daughter; Beetlejuice), Naomi Watts (DianaThe Painted Veil; King Kong) and Zach Galifianakis (The Muppets; Due Date; Hangover), the cast of Birdman is not short of talented actors and actresses who bring forth intriguing and very complex characters that definitely take you on an interesting journey through the world of Riggan Thomson - a man whose role as Birdman catapulted him into stardom. 

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So, if you are in the mood for a film that has a bit of drama and comedy & is sure to whisk you away into a world that is both crazy and slightly relatable then Birdman may be for you. Let me know what you think of the film.

Mo x

                
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