.: More random thoughts :.

If there’s a thought there’s been in my head for a while is how to live more and worry less. We’ve all seen the latest trends: minimalism, declutter, meditation but somehow it seems a lot easier said than done.
I have started meditation back in May and have been doing it daily ever since (I don’t regret it at all). It feels liberating to take 10/15m out of your time to try not to think about anything. Not the past, not the future, just being there and learning to breathe too. A bit later started yoga, which I’m planning to go back into as soon as I have the chance as well.
But, there’s one thing that still bothers me, and that’s the constant worries, that sense I could be doing so much more out of my life than I’m actually doing. That constant sense that somehow I’ve lost the real me, or even worst, that I don’t even know who the real me is. Life for me is changing, for sure, the biggest change of them all and I guess that will force me to look myself in the mirror and try to understand: where next? What is really really important.
Should I carry on my life as it is? Am I feeling fulfilled with what I’m doing? Probably not, but from this moment on I can’t also just leave it all behind be crazy and start something new. Responsibilities and commitments are about to change. But surely, something can still be done. Can I find the right balance and wake up every morning feeling calm knowing that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing?
This must be the billion dollar question that all of us try to answer. The other day I was talking about this with a friend. I was saying that most of us talk a lot of time about work, it tends to be to complain about it. And then there are those, like my sister who talk about their work and feel excitement, feel passion as if they are doing the right job in that moment in time. I take job and commitment way too seriously and it’s really easy to let it control me and take priority over everything else. I miss the days when I used to feel creative and having time to wonder and just enjoy the things around me, without this constant worry to follow me as a shadow.
If you read what I’ve been doing the past few years you’ll easily notice the trend. I know for a while now I need to chance, except I haven’t yet figure out what. So I carry on, with the stuff I know, not daring, not stopping to look around. I still hope that the answer will come magically knocking on my door, but then again I was never one to trust luck. I guess it could help if I focus in what I know I like and move from there, step by step and try to discard everything else I know I don’t enjoy either. Like a brain declutter ultimately. Probably I should try to do one of those spiritual breakaways, which I kinda experienced last year over a long weekend in lake district. It was so beautiful around me, so relaxing, I just felt like walking slowly and enjoy the beauty around me. It made me realise I really need more moments like that, and they shouldn’t resume to just be over the holidays. Somehow I should be ensuring that I have more moments like that continuously during the week. Or maybe I just need to ensure I just relax more and let everything happen. Rather than keep on trying to find solutions let myself relax and let the solutions pop up in my head while I’m doing something I enjoy, let’s say while listening to music and enjoying the sun on my face or just feeling the wind in my face. Maybe and only maybe the key for finding the solution is to stop searching for it. Maybe and only maybe I’ll start to feel the weight on my shoulders reduce and feel that it can be ok to just wait and try to find a way of making each day matter, at my own rhythm, at my own pace. Maybe and only maybe, when I’m least expecting, I’ll discover all the things I’m searching for are just standing here, by my side waiting for me to grab them and hold them.

.: My headspace :.

Ah is there anything better than a long weekend? I went to South Wales on this one, which I find is one of the best places in UK to slow down and relax surrounded by all the green scenery. For instance I love Lake District a lot, but it just takes forever to get there, especially if we’re talking about a long weekend! I’m hoping to be back at some stage, in any random weekend to spend a few days there. South Wales is a much easier option as it’s just 2h15 from London (or 3h and a bit with the traffic on a long weekend).

The point of a weekend away tends to be to relax, and starting the weekend stuck in 6h queues isn’t a great start. Finally one that was far more relaxing! We’ve managed to reach the hotel for dinner at 08h! I will be sharing the photos of the hotel and the weekend on my other blog here

What I really want to stay is that I took this weekend to turn a page in my book of live and to learn to let it go. I’ve been way too stressed lately. A month ago I ended up crying on my way home after leaving the office due to the stress and frustration. Maybe I can blame it on the hormones, but… this not the way anyone should live. Not worth it as everyone around me says, especially not now. I’ve been having all my priorities all wrong (I’ve been saying this for a while, have I not?)

Recommended by a friend I’m now doing daily meditation (using Headspace), reading a book about it and just joined yoga classes that will start in June. I do want to change for real, taking the train of the biggest change ever! I want to look back and say:

“I was doing it all wrong, but now it’s better. I’ve managed to change and I feel a lot better. I feel that for once I can grab life with both hands rather than feel it keeps on escaping through my fingers like water drops.”

The truth is I’ve just arrived home and I feel so much better! Just 2 days away and I feel almost brand new. The full test of fire will be once I’m back into the office, but for now I’ll enjoy it, peacefully.

About Headspace (Disclaimer: I’m not being sponsored at all for this post, it’s a genuine review as I really enjoy the program and the design of the app)
Headspace is a really lovely animated app that you can use on your computer and phone, with tailored programs for meditation. I’m still using the free program, which includes a 10 days guide for beginners.

For more information check their website or app.

Which relaxation techniques do you use to handle a stressful life? Anything you would recommend?

.: About savings and Finance :.

Monday…. and such a terrible monday as I’m back to work. Can I go back to my holidays please? Need to wait for March now. Seems a carrot quite far away.

To be on a different note today, I’ve decided to share with you some words around Savings and Finance, as you know many of you are trying to follow up with the new year resolutions.

Most of my close friends know that I track my finances per transaction, that’s right. I’ve created an excel file on google drive (so I can access it both from home and work) and I go to my bank account and track each transaction against each category.

Why should you track your finances?

It will help you know how much you are spending in each category and define where you want / should cut. For example you know all those take away orders? Maybe you can cook more from home. If you need inspiration you can see recipes like Jamie Oliver 15m meals. I also follow a couple of bloggers that share some quick inspirations:

If you’re spending too much on gymn and you rarely go, why don’t you do some outdoor activities? Running in the park next door, or just join an activity with friends or just long walks over the weekend. It can be as easy as taking the stairs rather then the lift. Every step matters!

So you can see where I’m going right? It’s quite important that you understand how you are spending your money, otherwise you’ll never know where to cut and where you can spend more smartly. Also, if you don’t know how much you spend it will be even harder to reach your savings goal. It’s important to track not just the expenses but the savings as well. Once you see that little pot growing it will give you good motivation to stay on track.

How often should I track it?

How often you track it’s up to you. I try to check my bank account every two days, but was only tracking every two weeks. Once I was 2 months without tracking, which was a pain, as normally the banks only have 2 months worth of detailed bank statement, and it took me a couple of hours to catch up. The more often you do the easier it will become.

Which categories should I create?

I would say, keep it simple! The simpler it is, the easier it will become to maintain it. I change my categories along the way depending on what makes sense. For example, because I spend too much money in going out for dinners, my food bucket is split between grocery shopping and dinners and also week lunch meals. But you can keep it simple and just have the main bucket: Food.

Any advise on how much we should be spending in each category?

Well, the rule of thumb is more or less like this:

I track myself against this, which means I need to map my own categories into these global ones. My 2014 was more or less like this

I live in London, so you can see my housing expense is quite high. Inside housing I also include all utility bills. Food, as said above I’m badly behaved and spend too much money eating out. I take the public transport and we have an economic car, which means we save in transports (which also includes parking and the car insurance).

I also have a simple graphic that shows my monthly expense against my savings for each month. I like pictures 🙂

Tip: Because I’m using excel, I had to create the template only once, then it becomes really easy to reuse it every year, as the graphics will change based on the cell values. So it’s a one off exercise really.

Which software is available?

There are loads of options to track your expenses. I’m using basic excel because I’ve done this template ages ago and I find it really useful to leave all my documents on google drive. But there’s loads of clever software out there, which will allow you to download your transactions from your bank account or credit card and upload directly using the software. A friend of mine (who’s much clever than I am!!!) is doing that.

Some options below:

  • Money Dashboard – Seems to work pretty well for UK based accounts and is also very easy to use (free to use I believe)

  • BankTree – Not sure about this one to be honest, but this is how it looks like

  • Mint – For those of you that like phone apps, this seems to be quite a popular one. If I was starting now, I guess I would give it a go.

  • Buxfer – Seems easy to use with a small subscription of £2.80 and it seems it can generate really easy-to-use reports

Whatever option you choose the most important feature is that it works for you! The last thing you want to do, is to spend a lot of time setting up a tool which you will give up on using after a bit!

For any other additional information let me know, I will try to help the best way I can. Hope this information was useful 🙂 Enjoy your week

Happy birthday to me

Yap, my last year in the 20’s, it comes so soon!!! I don’t feel my age (most of the times), other times I feel that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I just returned from a long weekend in Vienna – such a lovely city! but I feel exhausted already after 1 day work. Tomorrow flying again. Can hardly wait for a proper lunch with my friends on Saturday to just relax and have a bit of socializing and laugh around me.

(me in the hotel room, relaxing. need more of that already)

Birthday wishes:

candles

* Define what I’m going to do… I can’t keep on living for work (that’s my main goal for my last year in the 20’s)
* Spend more time with family and friends
* Visit new places, new cities (for leisure purposes!!!)
* Laugh more and do the things I really enjoy doing

So wish me luck!

Monthly goals – March

First of all a look into February, where my goal was to eat less outside:


Well sort off, I said I wanted to go maximum 2 times eating out, I went 3 times. But most of the time I’ve actually managed to eat more at home. I didn’t made it, but I believe it had to do with my lack of time to cook at all, once we had to order food because I couldn’t go shopping neither cook. So I’ve ordered a huge pizza for dinner and to have lunch the day after (while working from home).
I don’t consider a pure failure because we’ve been cooking more and cooking a bit healthier too, compared with last year.

For March the goal is to get rid of stuff I rarely use or don’t need (inspired from The busy lady and the stripy cat). This goal applies not only to physical stuff but to time as well: prioritize! Spend more time with my friends and family, focus on what’s important and “ignore” what’s not important at all.



Let’s see how it goes!

Monthly Goals

I don’t know if you remember, but I decided to follow the idea of setting monthly goals on things I would like to try to achieve:

For January it was No online shopping.



And I have to say mission accomplished!!! Many times it was very tempting to use the online discounts and buy things like photography, gadgets and booking. To be honest I haven’t bought anything this month for me. I did order photos but to open my online store on Etsy (and one mini goal for this month is to upload the photos I want to sell online).

Maybe it was easier to survive the online shopping because this month I didn’t had much time to even check the online stores, but I did it! I made me reduce my impulsive online shopping and think twice before buying anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I’m very good at avoiding buying big / expensive items… such as my new camera. But on the small items I really get tempted very easily. So I’ll keep rational shopping from now on!

For February eat mostly at home!
Actually I will plan just to go 2 times to have dinner / lunch outside the whole month! (I doubt I can cut to zero, as I’m sure he will want to go and have some food outside). But sometimes I was going like 10 times per month and it gets expensive. This includes order online food.


I do have a problem with this for the weeks I’m in Germany, as I can’t eat really at home, because there’s no home! But for the period I’m in Germany I will stick with no hydro-carbonates for dinner.
The main goal is to try to eat more healthy at home instead of spending like 40 or 50£ for the two of us outside. Let’s see how this goes.