Thursday, April 23, 2015

Advantages of Travelling Solo

I don't know if I've ever shared this, but the first time I came to America, I went on my own. I met up with a group of people (strangers), but I was on my own for most of it. When I went to London with my Nana, I did all my sightseeing alone. 

It's been awhile since I've travelled on my own, but even if I catch a flight to Orlando to meet my mum, or to DC to meet Alyssa and Tracy, there is something amazing about travelling alone. I don't really have a desire to travel alone anymore, I have KC and I like to share things with him. But I am glad I did it because I feel like it really made me open up and learn more about myself.

Do what you want any old time. I got to choose what I wanted to do and see. I could wander into any shop I chose, enter any museum that looked interesting and walk straight back out when I was over it. I ate when and what I wanted, slept in late or woke up to see the sunrise.

Make new friends. I am pretty shy when I don’t know people. If I know you, you'd probably scoff at me calling myself shy because I’m loud and annoying. But at first, I’m shy. I was even worse before I travelled. I literally would find a corner, cross my arms and perfect my resting bitch face. But travelling alone made me open up. I had to talk to people. When I was on the trip around America, I was in a bus with like 13 strangers. I could find my corner, or I could talk to them. It’s amazing how fast you make friends in that situation, there is no time for slow friendships. You’re in them, fast. It was awesome. I still talk to some of those people. If I had travelled with a friend (like I was supposed to, but she bailed), I would have stuck with her and not made new friends. Sure, you try, but it won’t be the same. 

Imagine if you went to Italy on your own, with a friend who spoke the same language as you, but not Italian. How much Italian do you think you’ll try and speak? Imagine if you went on your own. What a different experience that would be. It feels natural to be outgoing when I travel, which I would have laughed at if you'd told me that beforehand. Even when I first came to Louisville in 2010, I knew only Megan and I met my other (now) best friends for the first time. I was so nervous. Megan ran up to the room to get something right as they arrived, and I wanted to hide behind someone so they didn't see me. But I smiled my biggest smile, waved and rushed towards them like I knew them. Now they love me (okay I love them too). It might not seem like the biggest deal, but it was for me.

Flexibility. When I travelled on my own, I did spend a lot of time with other people, but when I wanted to be alone, no-one noticed or cared. I didn’t have to report to anyone, I just grabbed a book and sat by the pool. I wandered around the campsite while they were all drinking. I went to a movie when they went shopping. I spent money without having to explain my purchases, I did things without having to ask or check with other people. It’s so freeing.

You will learn so much about yourself. Something I realised very early on in my London trip was that I was responsible for my own happiness. I was young, moody and very annoying (or so my Aunty tells me). I realised no-one was going to hold my hand and make me happy. I was on the other side of the world from the douche boyfriend and I realised I didn’t like him so much. The beauty of solo travel is time to be alone, time to reflect and time to test myself. I started to understand myself in ways I didn’t know was possible. When faced with a choice and no-one to make it but yourself and no-one holding you back, you’ll realise ‘hey, I don’t even like museums and I don’t have to go because no-one is making me’. Before London, I convinced myself I loved all museums because everyone else did. Truth is, I like the majority of museums (history! science!) but not all (art. sorry). That is okayI also didn’t know how much I actually enjoy the company of just me. I kinda liked me.

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Oscar Wilde

Confidence. My world became bigger when I took the risk of going to London and America on my own. I was scared. It might not seem like a big risk, but for me it was. I felt like I conquered my fears and because of that I felt more confident about any adventure my life had in store.

Eating well. I ate surprisingly healthy on my solo travels because I wasn’t tempted by other people’s choices.

Eating not so well. Ok so sometimes I want to indulge and be a fatty. Other people, especially KC, try and be all logical and stuff. No thank you, give me all the dessert!

Common sense. I thought I had the common sense thing down before my travels, but I did some pretty stupid things. I learned really quickly though, and I feel like I have a good head on my shoulders now. I got in some sticky situations because of my naivety that I luckily got out of, but looking back I could have been in serious trouble. I’m much more aware now when I travel on my own. Don’t do anything stupid, keep an eye on your stuff, and you’ll be good. 

That never happened. I don’t really want to share any examples here (but the above photo is from one of those times), but I am glad there are things that happened during those trips that no-one in my current life knows because they weren’t there. Ergo, it didn’t happen.

It’s an awesome sense of accomplishment. I walked over 500 steps to get to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral. It was beautiful. I stood up the top, taking photos and it hit me. I was in London. I was in London. Dream come true. I was on my own, and I was just fine. I was quite a dependent person so to realise this and feel that sense of accomplishment that hey, I could do anything (hey, that’s how I felt) was amazing. The feeling of figuring stuff out on your own in a totally foreign country – it’s indescribable. Whenever it happens, the feeling that comes with it is so completely incredible you might get a bit cocky and think there is nothing you can’t do.
No risk of going with a bad companion. I'm sure we've all been there. Halfway through a holiday or weekend and we want to wring the other person's neck. How many times have you had to compromise on something you want to do to avoid splitting up or a fight? How many times have you said ‘I’ll sit this outing out because I don’t feel well’ just to get a moment’s peace away from those people?

“It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion.”

Of course, there are plenty of disadvantages of travelling alone as well. You might think it’s not for you because you’re not outgoing and don’t want to make new friends. Believe me, if I can make new friends in a group of 13 people I have nothing in common with, or strangers in London I ended up spending the whole day with – so can you. If you don’t want to that’s fine, but why don’t you want to?

Start small. Go on a road trip an hour away. Wander around a close but not far away city. Go to the movies on your own. Go to a concert or a festival alone. Volunteer at a race on your own. Do things on your own. Don’t be afraid.

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” - Robert Tew

I haven't done a lot of it, I certainly haven't backpacked around Europe on my own for a year, nor is it likely that I ever do that. But little travels? I can do that, and have. Whether it's a road trip to visit family, or a new place on your own, a short getaway just for yourself or an international trip - it doesn't have to be all or nothing. If you haven't travelled solo, I highly recommend it.

Have you ever travelled somewhere alone?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day; 20 things we can all do.

Did you know that today is Earth Day? I've been trying to make better, greener decisions in my every day life and I thought today was the perfect day to share.

Earth Day - 20 things we can all do to help and protect the earth!

Swap out your light bulbs. Why? Compact florescent light bulbs use less energy than regular old light bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and last up to ten times longer. They also save money in energy costs - more than $30 in the lifetime of one bulb.

Plant a tree or flowers. With Arbor Day (April 27th) just around the corner from Earth Day (today!), this is your chance to practice planting a fruit tree or any other kind of tree! Trees remove CO2 from the air and help fight global warming. They produce oxygen, give us shade in the summer, and provide a home for your neighborhood birds.  Make it an annual family event and within a few years you may have enough shade to drastically reduce your home cooling costs and some tasty fruit to boot! You can also plant some flowers that are native to your area and plant them in your garden or on nature strips where plants are usually grown. Restoring the local plant life will help attract native bird life, pollinators and local mammals.

arbor day

Curb your junk mail and go paperless with your bills. I have just made sure all of our bills are now online – we don’t get any paper bills anymore. As for junk mail, this is a slower process but you use the pre-paid stamped envelope in your junk mail, write "please remove" on the envelope and send it back to them - on their dime. In the long run it helps everyone -- they don't have to pay for future mailings and you are no longer buried in piles of junk mail.

Turn off lights and unplug cell phone chargers. This one couldn't be simpler. It’s normally the first thing on the list – but take a look around, do you do it? Whilst writing this post I can see one unnecessary light on (my fault) and two chargers plugged in that aren't being used. Chargers use electricity even when electronic devices are not connected to them.

Try doing "conscious" laundry. Instead of saving those piles of laundry for your Saturday or Sunday afternoon, do it at night when energy costs are lower. During the warmer weather, I do my laundry during the day, hang them on a clothes horse and stick them outside. Every house at home has a clothesline out the back (a veranda out the front, and an old rocking chair) and I understand why it's not common here with the whole seasons thing, KC thinks they look tacky but I don't care. One day I will have one.

Fix plumbing issues. A faucet leaking just one drop per second wastes over 1,300 gallons per year! A leak from a hot water source wastes both water and fossil fuel, creating more greenhouse gasses. Most repairs to plumbing fixtures pay for themselves within just a year. Fix it.

Think Green When You Clean - Cleaning products that contain chlorine or petroleum distillates expose your family to toxins and then end up in the ecosystem. Choose nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products, which are proven effective but won’t cause long term damage to the Earth.

Make sure your car is in tip top shape. Americans waste over 700 million gallons of gasoline each year just because tyres aren’t properly inflated. Millions more are wasted because our vehicles aren’t properly tuned up. Get her checked!

Meatless for dinner. Once a week, plan a meat alternative for dinner. Enjoy pasta with a marinara or Alfredo sauce, meatless burritos, or even black bean burgers. The United Nations have concluded that meat production is responsible for around 18% of global CO2 emissions. A ridiculous amount of water is used to produce a single pound of beef, and the EPA estimates that more than 27,000 miles of US Rivers have been polluted by livestock waste. Go meatless once a week and help conserve water.

Use a refillable water bottle. In the US alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used every year to make disposable plastic bottles.

Use fewer napkins. Napkins contribute to the annual destruction of 34 million trees. Try only using one next time. I definitely need to be better about this, and I would love to not use paper towel at home.

Walk, Hike, Ride a Bike, Carpool. If people in the U.S. would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of driving a car, over 70 million gallons of fuel could be saved each year. And there’s the added benefit of enjoying the fresh air and exercise. KC and I used to walk to the grocery when we lived closer. Another great thing would be to get rid of your car completely – but obviously might not be possible for everyone, it’s not possible for us right now. Public transport is nonexistent here, and if we were a one car family, we’d waste ridiculously more gas. Cars have a tremendous impact on the environment, not to mention your personal finances. Vehicles in the United States use more gasoline each year than our oil industry produces. I would love to be a one car family one day, we’ll see!

Get rid of weeds with your hands. Herbicides aren’t the only way to control weeds, and they’re certainly not the most environment-friendly way. Invest in a good pair of gloves and garden tools, and remove weeds by hand. Also, choose natural alternatives to pesticides for getting rid of pests.

Reduce, Reuse Recycle. It’s more than just a slogan. You can start making the world a ‘greener’ place today: return hangers to the cleaners, donate clothing and computers to charities, pack lunches in reusable containers instead of bags, there are hundreds of easy things to do and though we all know it – do we actually do it? My reusable bags sit in the car almost every time I go to the grocery. I’m going to make a conscious effort to use them from now on. Most people recycle at home, but there are a shocking number of offices and workplaces that don't recycle. Including my own. Paper, plastic bottles, soda cans. I am going to get a waste basket for recycling and if I have to take it home each day and put it in my own bin, I will.

Adjust your thermostat. Up in the summer, down in the winter. While you’re at it, try and help me convince KC to turn it up some more in the summer.

Wash your car using a bucket rather than the hose. You might think this is a bit ridiculous, but you use less water. When we had water restrictions at home, this is what we had to do. Drive the car onto grass for cleaning, so that the water you do use also waters the grass. Every little bit counts.

Take shorter showers. Again, when we had water restrictions, we were encouraged to take shorter showers and you can buy shower heads that save water. I’m a pretty quick shower taker, but I take way too many baths and I need to curb that before I use the whole Atlantic Ocean.

Buy Local. Food sold in American supermarkets has to travel an average of 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. Buying locally not only supports your local economy, but cuts out the massive amounts of energy used to store and transport the products across the world. Food isn't the only way to shop local: visit neighborhood thrift stores to reduce the pollution caused by the production and transportation of new clothing and other items.

Stop Using Plastic. There is no doubt that plastics are bad. Americans dispose of 10.5 million tons of plastic garbage every year, and about 8% of the world's annual oil production is used toward the creation of plastic products. A single plastic bottle can spend anywhere from 100 to 1000 years in a landfill, and while recycling plastics helps save up to 60% of the energy used to make new products, they are often "downcycled" which doesn't curb the demand for more plastic to be produced, and it does little to prevent plastics leeching cancer-causing chemicals. Thanks to our wasteful habits, we've created huge islands of plastics in both the Pacific and Atlantic, and we not only kill up to a million sea creatures every year with plastic, but also ingest toxins that have made their way up the food chain from this waste. 

Wow. If that doesn't make you stop using plastic....

Learn more about the environment. I think the most important thing we can all do is learn a little bit more about how we can help. Borrow some library books and read up on an issue such as pollution, endangered species, water shortages, recycling, and climate change.   Think about the issues that concern you the most and if you haven't done so already, join a local group that undertakes activities to help protect the environment in your area.

For other great ideas to make your life a little more green read Kathy’s post and Steph’s post. I'm always looking for more though - what do you do to help the environment?

ps. 300th post - wtf.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My 10 Favourite Authors

Today I am going to share my top 10 favourite authors.. to be honest, this was hard, but not because I couldn't narrow it down but because I struggled to find 10. I love books and I have lots of favourites, but I don't really have a ton of favourite authors that have written several of my favourite books. Does that make sense? If I really enjoyed a book, I will more than likely add the rest of the author's works to my list, but that list is 600 books and growing, so it takes me awhile to get around to them. But anyway, off the top of my head, as of right now - these are my favourite authors.

Jane Austen - well, I mean duh.

J.K. Rowling - well, I haven't read any of her others (yet) but HP is so amazing that she is automatically on this list.

Philippa Gregory - I haven't read all of her books, but I went through a phase where that's all I was reading. I can't remember exactly which ones I read and which ones I haven't as I read them all out of order, but one day I want to go back and read them all in order. Fun!

Paullina Simons - Love, love love love so many of her books. Except for a song in the daylight. No. I want to reread The Girl In Times Square to see if it's as good as I remember.

Jodi Picoult - even though I have only read 3 Picoult's, I know I can pick up one of her books and it will be well written, and I will enjoy it. So far, anyway. Hope she doesn't ruin that.

JoJo Moyes - same thing for Moyes as Picoult's. I have loved what I've read, can't wait to read more.

Charlaine Harris - KIND OF. I adored the Sookie Stackhouse books like you would not believe. The last 2 were pure trash and I hate Harris for doing that to me. Yes, to me. I loved the rest of the series so much. Good thing I found an alternate fan written ending to make up for it. 

Marissa Meyer - I just absolutely loved The Lunar Chronicles and can't wait for the last one. The last one will determine if she stays on this list, but I just think they were so well written, original, interesting and I just gobbled them up, and what more could you want? I hope they make it into a movie (or 4).

Janet Evanovich - I can always pick up one of her books and know it will be easy, light and enjoyable.

Abigail Reynolds - well, this isn't for everyone, but I know I can pick up a P&P variation written by Reynolds and I will enjoy it. I've given up on most variations, but I love hers.

Roald Dahl - I know, it's an odd one, but this is my childhood right here and I can always pick up one of his books and be transported back so fast I get whiplash.

Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish.

Who's your favourite author?

PS - Has anyone had to enter a captcha to comment? Please let me know because I have it turned off, and if it has somehow turned itself back on - RAGE!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Sweats Vol 4

This week was a bit lazy to be honest. I didn't go to the gym once. I only ran once. I yoga'd a bit. I need to find the balance. Again, no need to read these if they aren't your jam!

Monday: yoga (20 mins) + strength-ish workout (10 mins)
I didn't get to sleep until after midnight, so there was no gym going in the morning.

I decided to do something different when I got home and attempt this yoga for weight loss video - not because I want to lose weight (though I do), it just looked interesting. I only managed about half the video, it was a bit hard and I wasn't 100% feeling it. I was sweating a bit and almost face planted on my mat, it was super slippery. Not sure why, I never had that issue with my old mat. Sad face. Finished up with this video which deconstructed some harder poses and was very helpful.

Then I did 50 squats, 3 x 20 second planks and 15 push ups. Not sure whether to count these as strength workouts though, but why not. they are for a 30 day challenge thingy (pinned here). I am trying to do strength training more frequently even if it's just those 3 things. Can't hurt, right?

Tuesday: yoga (30 mins) + strength-ish workout (10 mins)

I didn't get up again but I'm not mad about it. I woke up to a slightly lower number on the scales and even though that shouldn't be my motivation, and it's really not I promise, it doesn't hurt.

Unfortunately, I had a shit day at work with shitty people and all around shit storms. I was looking forward to going home and relaxing, yoga-ing the stress away. Unfortunately my mood was crappy and though this instagram challenge has been fun it's certainly made me realise how unaware I was of how many poses I've been doing incorrectly. Adding to the crapometer scale for the day.

Oh well, the only way to get better is to practice! I did the hips & hamstrings video and then the yoga for hangovers video (really dig it). Then I did 55 squats, 3 x 20 second planks and 16 push ups.

Wednesday: yoga (20 mins) + strength-ish workout (10 mins)

My lower back is in a world of pain, thankfully Alyssa just happened to be talking about it on her blog today and sent me further info. When I got home, I did everything she told me to plus did 60 squats, 17 push ups and 3 x 30 second planks. My lower back was still sore after doing the lower back yoga again so I just moped around the house, stuffed my face and went to sleep.

Thursday: yoga (10 mins)

This morning I woke up and checked my phone like I always do. It wasn't until I saw an email from Alyssa that I remembered my lower back was supposed to be in pain.. the pain was completely gone. I jumped out of bed, twisted and turned, bent down, picked heavy things up trying to aggravate my lower back to see if the pain was still there (I'm so bright) and I could feel a slight twinge, but it's like 98% gone. This is why I love yoga (and Alyssa!). You'd think I'd just won a millon dollars I was so happy.

When I got home, I did the lower back yoga again to make sure this pain gets gone. My squat challenge was supposed to be a rest day so I decided to take the whole day off.

Friday: yoga (10 mins) + strength-ish workout (10 mins)
Today I did 18 push ups, 3 x 30 seconds planks and 70 squats. Then I did this easy abs for lazy people video, but didn't feel like doing much else, so.. I didn't.

Saturday: Ran 3 miles (9:48p/m) + strength-ish workout (10 mins)

Yeah, first run this week. Good job Kristen. I only felt like 3, so thats what I did. Then I did 19 push ups, 3 x 40 seconds planks and 75 squats. Zero yoga today.

Sunday: Yoga (75 mins) 
I finally went to my Sunday yoga class. It wasn't an easy class but I did enjoy it.. some parts not so much but nothing too bad. Unfortunately my brand new mat and I are not friends, no matter what I do, I slip and slide on that thing like it's a slip n slide. So disappointing. I also accidentally took the whole day off from my little challenges.

A photo posted by Kristen (@seeyouinaporridge) on

Yoga 6 /  165 minutes
Running 1 /  3 miles
Strength 5 but like little baby ones


- Sweet running game this week Kristen.

- The yoga teacher was nice but she was a bit snarky. I'm hoping she just had an off day because she seemed to be well liked. It was also super busy and some girl hit my face with her feet 3 times. Plus she started snoring during the last pose, as you do...

Please let next week be better... It's all on you, Kristen!