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Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy. 

What do you do when it’s all going down? In times when it seems as if nothing’s ever gonna get better. When it appears that whatever you do is taking you deeper into the dungeon of despair? 

I’ve been there. Trust me. I tried and used different methods to get myself out of the darkness, and many of them helped me tremendously in getting back to normal, functional daily life. From simple everyday walks in early mornings through therapy and intensive physical training with a personal trainer to expanding my knowledge with new hobbies, then a new career and yoga. There was one constant that was part of all the methods that I used and the one that I enjoyed the most, reading. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Reading for me is a go-to activity through thick and thin. If I’m down, I will look for an escape in books, either by exploring a new subject to give my mind a different focus or just by diving into a new world opposite of mine. If I’m happy, I’ll expand my TBR list with new purchases and pick a new read in excitement. 

I used to read fiction exclusively in my spare time, but in the past few years, I discovered a whole new world of non-fiction and developed a tremendous love for memoirs and autobiographies in particular. Many of them picked me rather than the other way around, I dare to say. Somehow, the timing appeared to be just right to come across a book that described what I was going through but also showed me that there is that famous light at the end of a tunnel. A book that soothes the scars and lifts up in times of blues. 

I picked out my favourite 10 that inspired me, carried me into the next day and pushed me to take another step. Here they are in no particular order. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. A mind-blowing account of facing death and becoming a father at the same time. It’s a beautifully written memoir that combines science, language and literature. Inspirational and heartbreaking.

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell. The subtitle of the memoir is Seventeen Brushes with Death, and it’s a collection of seventeen near-death experiences in an extraordinary life of the author. 

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Before he had a stroke, Bauby was editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine and a father of two children. After the stoke, he ended up in a 20-day long coma and woke up with a lock-in syndrome able to blink his left eye only. That is how he dictated this book.  

Living With the Dead Language by Ann Patty. If you are like me, a lover of Latin language and literature and memoirs then this is a perfect book for you. The story of self-discovering and redefining life purpose combined with good humour, honesty and beautiful writing will teach and entertain you. 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. A memoir in books of a teacher and her seven dedicated students that tells a story of the power of literature and resilience in the times of revolution, censorship and denying freedom in Iran. 

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Together with Reading Lolita in Tehran, this memoir is on my list not only because I am fascinated with that part of the world but because, although different, both are testimonies to resilience, wisdom and strength in difficult times. Persepolis is a graphic memoir with a tremendous amount of humour and heartbreak. 

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill. Published in 1954, this story of Douglas Bader is an inspirational account about an RAF pilot who had it all in 1931. Then, one December morning after an air crash, Bader lost both of his legs but and had to learn to walk again. He served as a fighter pilot in the Second World War.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. A memoir that is trying to make sense of a time when one faces an unexplained illness of a child and a sudden death of partner after 40 years of life together, all at the same time. Honest and powerful. 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. A multilayered and innovative memoir about taming Mabel, a goshawk and liberating self in the times of grief after the author lost her father. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Insightful and hilarious, this is a collection of essays about moving to France, learning the language, eating in restaurants and many more. 

So, there! I gave you some ideas and added more to your to-be-read list. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably a neverending one.

Have you read any of the books on my list? If not, what one would you pick?

What do you do in the times of blues? What is the one thing that makes you feel better instantly? 

Let me know in the comments box or get in touch with me.

Memoirs to Read When You Feel Blue, Books to motivate and inspire you to take another step and push through one day at a time. Never give up! Biljana Hutchinson #books #memoirs #motivation #inspiration #personaldevelopment
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Health Tips, Myths and Tricks by Morton E. Tavel, MD Review

This post contains affiliate links. Please read Disclosure Policy.

Health Tips, Myths and Tricks by Morton E. Tavel MD. Find some of the most searched answers about health, wellness and nutrition in one place. Ever wandered should you eat breakfast or if chocolate is good for you? Want to find out the truth about artificial sweeteners? And more? Read this book and my review, while you're at it.

Health Tips, Myths and Tricks, A Physician’s Advice by Morton E. Tavel, MD is a book that answers the most popular questions about food, health and fitness at this age of the internet. We all googled at least one of the issues explained in this book at least once in our adult life.

The book is user-friendly mainly in two ways. First, Dr Tavel writes in an easily readable, so-called plain English for all with no medical background to understand and absorb. Second, it is written to be read either from cover to cover or, more likely, in small chunks as a lexicon. A reader can scroll down the well structured laid out table of content, find a question of interest and read only the required chapter.

Dr Tavel’s guide consists of 62 chapter divided into three parts. The first part is packed with Tips on health and wellness that readers can learn and then apply to their daily life not only to improve wellbeing and, say, lose weight but also to save money. One can read what a good breakfast is and what are the benefits of it; are the coffee and chocolate good or bad; or what is the truth about olive oil and artificial sweeteners.

In the second part of the book, Dr Tavel debunks the Myths, so the reader can finally find out the facts about energy drinks or fortified food; or should we buy organic food and who should follow the gluten-free diet.

The third part is about the Tricks used in marketing to extract the money from the consumer in exchange for a questionable product that is, in many cases, useless and in some cases could be even dangerous. The Tricks cover the examples of dietary supplements, alkaline water, body detoxification methods, and much more.

The most compelling part for me was the third part that explains and teaches us how the scams are done but also how to search for information, critically question the presented ‘facts’ and how and where to verify these ’facts’.

Health Tips, Myths and Tricks contains a tremendous amount of research data presented in a conversational but methodical way that is easy to adapt and digest. It is a practical read with concise chapters and actionable advice.

I give Health Tips, Myths and Tricks 3 out of 4 stars because some of the examples contained unnecessary details but I do recommend this book to everyone who wants necessary information on some of the most searched questions of modern-day health, wellness and nutrition. In the end, I will mention the unfortunate cover too. I would strongly revise the book cover in case of the next edition.

 

The post first appeared on OnlineBookClub.org.

Letter To Women Of My Life

Letter To Women of My Life, Honouring the ladies that have influenced me. Humbled to know them and proud of them. #InternationalWomensDay2018 #women #girlpower #womenrock

 

Today is March 8, International Women’s Day. The first time this Day was observed was not that long ago, 1909 in New York on February 28, but it was not until 1914 that March 8 was set as International Women’s Day. Throughout the past century or so there has been many controversies, marches, political arrests, scandals, bans, strikes and protests starting on or around this day but I will not go through the history and discuss them.

Instead, Dear Women, I would like to celebrate all of you I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. You took part in my life at various times and occasions, some only once, some more than once and some of you came in and became a regular ingredient of my days. You are spread all around the world, living and working in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Uganda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bolivia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Jordan, Nepal, Japan, Serbia but also in places like Germany, UK, Ireland, Australia, France, US, Greece…

Many of you went through hell and back in your lives. You were political prisoners, victims of domestic violence. You were subjected to intimidation, gender, ethnic and racial discrimination and violence. You survived attacks, rape, miscarriages, exile and displacement, loss of your dearest ones to senseless crimes… but you won all the battles.

 

Letter To Women of My Life, Honouring the ladies that have influenced me. Humbled to know them and proud of them. #InternationalWomensDay2018 #women #girlpower #womenrock

 

Each and every one of you goes through your everyday lives with admirable endurance, bravery and strength and you are committed to making the world a better and safer place through your personal actions, immensely difficult jobs and immeasurable love and dedication. And you always, always do it with a smile.

Every one of you is my inspiration, and I consider myself exceptionally fortunate for being given an opportunity to cross paths with you, to work and learn from you and enjoy your company. I am tremendously grateful for that.

May every day of your life be your day.

Love,
B.

 

Photo credits: Alice/Unsplash and Nicole/Unsplash

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity

Working from home is excellent, but it requires a lot of focus, self-discipline and organisation. A couple of years ago, when I decided to go back to work again, I knew that I’m not really up for a regular 9-5 working day. I liked the comfort of my home, and I thought that it would be just peachy if I could add ‘work from home’ to the ‘stay at home mum’ description.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

If you work from home, you know that this is way easier said than done. I struggled at the beginning for many reasons. I’m an early morning and a late night person as I don’t sleep much. That didn’t work out well for me because I’d spend the day with the kids and then be exhausted in the evening plus not be able to get up early in the morning either.

I also got easily distracted because my focus required for work, performing and delivering tasks was practically nonexistent only because I didn’t have to focus on anything else apart from the kids for quite a while (about four years). A little project here and there but nothing regular and steady. And the focus is like a muscle, if you don’t practice it, it atrophies.

With a four-year-old and a six-year-old, there was always laundry to do, food to prepare, a small or big pile of toys lying on my desk or in my comfy sofa where I’d like to sit and read or plan. Then, there were things to be done in the town like shopping, volunteer work in school, and so on.

I was busy, but somehow I was also all over the place because there was no real structure to my days. I knew I could use the time when the kids are in school in a much more productive way. There was also that feeling, and I’m sure you have it too when you know that you can do better and that there is much more to you than what you’ve already done.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

It was time for some tough love. Okay, Biljana, I said to myself, your time and mind needs some restructuring because your focus is crap. If you want to achieve some serious results, like create additional income or finish that bloody book that you’ve been working on for years now, get a grip. What’s missing?

The focus was missing, and I had to find the ways to exercise it again. Like muscles, remember? So, I did. Now, this may not make sense at first but hear me out.

First, I found a part-time job. Well, it was the other way around, the job found me. It’s an industrial automation company, and my friend who works there came to me one day and said that they need software testers. It was my a-ha moment. I knew exactly how that job would help me. I do it two days a week, flexible hours and it’s not as exciting as I thought it would be, BUT it serves the purpose. It shortens my week and forces me to focus and be more productive.

Although adding a part-time job to my schedule may seem counterintuitive and just for a moment it felt that way, this brings me to the second thing I did that may be more important. I eliminated everything that genuinely wasted my time and blunted my focus and replaced it with activities that only contributed to my productivity and growing myself and my business.

So, here’s a list of things that proved to be essential for my focus and productivity. They are numbered but have no particular order. I find all of them to be equally important and I make sure that I do them every day.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

1. Make a Daily plan

I make mine at the end of my working day, which is usually in the evening. It’s a kind of a daily wrap up like I finished one day and I’m ready to lay out the next one. For two important reasons:

a) My mental state – keeps me sane.  It helps me sleep as I’m not lying in bed thinking about tomorrow and possibly panicking if I’m going to have enough time for everything that needs doing or I think needs doing. When you set out a plan and make one for the day, it helps with prioritising too. What needs to be done first, how much time you may need, and all that goes with it.

b) Daily dynamic. Again, you’ll know exactly what will you do or where will you go first, and it helps to plan out routes or group tasks. Also, it helps set the tone for the day. You start your day calm and collected because you know precisely what will you do when instead of running around like a headless chicken.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

2. Practice Yoga

Wow! Yoga was such a revelation for me, and I cannot believe that it took me so long to try it.

It changed me. I’m not exaggerating. Yoga has been an immense help on a mental and physical level. It improved my flexibility and stopped my back pain, and it helped my digestion and to lose weight (10kg!). One of the best things that happened was that it has eliminated my snappiness and mood swings, improved my communication, built my confidence and recovered my focus. Mindblowing!

I do it five times a week for about 30 – 45 minutes. When I do it on the weekends, my son treats me like a live climbing frame, so I end up practising weightlifting yoga if that’s a thing… If you haven’t started yet, do it now. Stop reading this article, (you can finish it later), go and do yoga. See you later!

3. Set time slots for emails and social media updates

Are you back? Right on time for the big one. It is hard to distance yourself from social media, especially if social media are your job or your job relies on them. BUT, it is crucial to separate your work from your private time.

We all know situations where you just want to check something or quickly read that message when, half an hour or 45 minutes later, you find yourself still scrolling down your Twitter or Facebook feed. Does that make you feel like you wasted your time? It felt like that to me.

A couple of years ago, I made reducing the time on social media one of my resolutions. I’ve stuck with it, and it feels great. I spend more quality time with the kids and hubby, but I also use the time to do more work, read, learn and research more.

Since it wasn’t easy to stay away from social media, I had to resort to different tricks. As the case may be, the trick that gave the best results is also the simplest one. Ready? Every time you reach for your phone to check your social media feeds – grab a book instead. Whaaat?! It’s that simple!

Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

4. Switch notifications off

All of them. This one goes hand in hand with allocating the time slots for email and social media, and it may be a slightly harder one. I switched off notifications on my phone for all social media and my emails only a couple of months ago and let me tell you something – it is liberating. Liberating.

It reduces stress, interruptions are down to a minimum, and it saves time. All these three together contribute to improving your focus. I find it even more important and more to the point than the time slots allocation. It also puts you back in the position of control, which is where you want to be when you run a household, business or a project.

I get that it could be too much to take both on at the same time but try it. You will not regret it. It’s one of the best things I did for myself last year.

Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

5. Say No

Many people struggle with saying ‘no’ and this was a hard one for me too. It took me years of active practice to get it right. I got there in the end. You will, too. And I’m not talking about ‘no, but…’ or ‘no because of…’. No. I’m talking about a simple, short ‘no’.

The ‘no’ to what people expect you to do, think or feel. For example, your family has a gathering that you don’t feel like attending, but they expect you to attend. Say ‘no’ to it. If it makes you feel better, say that you’re busy because the deadline is approaching, or whatever else you think will work best but say ‘no’. Treat giving the explanation moment as your transition time and then slowly progress to the simple, pure ‘no’.

The fact is that you don’t want to go there, and as the event is approaching, you’re getting anxious asking yourself what excuse could you use that will be accepted. Or, how you don’t want to go there because you’ll meet X, Y, Z and you don’t want to. Or, well, (fill in the blank).

I’m sure you can think of at least three similar scenarios that happened to you with your friends or partner or even kids. We do things that we don’t want to or when we don’t want to, only because they are expected from us, or it’s a social norm. Then, we get caught up in thinking that if we don’t do them, we’d feel bad.

When you think about what you DON’T want to do, then you’re not thinking about what you DO want to do. Thinking about what you don’t want to do gets you preoccupied, and further wastes your time and dilutes your focus.

Your goal is to say ‘no’ without explaining yourself, and that is hard, I agree. But, it’s also crucial for reducing stress, saving time and preserving your focus. You need all these three. Right?

Start practising today. Say ‘no’ to a phone call that you can make when it suits your schedule. Or to uninvited guests that popped in just when you were getting ready to read/sleep/work, you get the picture. Say No. You can do it.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

6. Eliminate negativities

Every and any negativity. News, people around you who always complain, unsupportive friends, anyone and anything that causes negative feeling in you.

It may be hard if you live with someone who is a perfect example of negativity, but then you could try to find a space that they cannot invade. Go to a café or library to work or close the office door, or stick earphones on in an open plan working space.

Try to find a way to guard your space, because that’s what you need to do – protect your physical and mental space from negative influence especially if you’re a sensitive soul or an introvert, like me.

I eliminated two (now, former) friends from my life early last year and it felt, again, liberating. I realised how good it felt after I cut them out of my life and let them know about my decision. Looking back afterwards, I remembered the feelings of irritation and anxiety they caused in me before they came for a visit or before I was about to see them. I wondered how did I not relate these emotions with them.

Please don’t get me wrong, cutting these people out of my life was not easy one bit. I thought about it for days, cried the night before; talked to my husband about it, I never slept that night, it was a real agony for me. I remember, being on the phone with my husband and saying through the tears ‘I think, I lost a friend’. As we talked, it became clear to me what I needed to do, but I wasn’t sure what should I say to her and how and I’ve never done this before, what am I going to do?! I was in a state of panic. Then, I decided to sleep over it and give it a few days to make sure that I’m making the right decision. No matter how hard I thought about it, everything led to the same conclusion – to end the friendship. And, so I did.

I never regretted the decisions. Also, I know now that I can do it. I’m not saying cut everyone who upsets you out, of course, but there comes a time when we can’t repair things anymore, and when it appears that their only role is to cause us grief. Like the appendix, for example.  That’s when we need to remove them.

Doing all these things caused a chain reaction for me. Not only did I improve my focus and productivity but I also felt better about myself and I gained more confidence and clarity about what I can and will achieve.

6 Things That Will Improve Your Focus and Productivity, Tips on how to build and maintain focus and improve productivity. This is particularly important if you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur working from home. Read on to find out how to sharpen your focus and boost your productivity. Biljana Hutchinson #WorkFromHome #HomeBasedBusiness #business #entrepreneur #PersonalDevelopment #productivity #focus

So there! My current list of magic tricks and superpowers to use to make your world a better place. I’m still testing a few options and will be updating you if they prove to be successful at the end of the trial period. In the meantime, do tell what tricks you have up your sleeve?

 

Fennel Veggie Soup

Soups are my favourite lunch because they are light but filling, and I don’t feel like all I want to do is lay down for the rest of the day after I eat. Also, I can make them from just about any vegetable combo I have in my precious fruit and veggie cart in the kitchen.

Fennel soup is the one I made today and thought, Well, why don’t I just share this with you? So, here it is!

What you’ll need:

1 fennel bulb

1 medium size carrot

1 parsnip

1/2 of medium size cauliflower or 1 small one

1 piece of ginger of about 1cm (optional)

1 vegetable cube

1,2 l of water

Salt, pepper

For serving (optional):

Toasted seeds (poppy, sesame, linseeds, pumpkin and sunflower)

Fresh parsley or coriander

Croutons

Crème Fraîche or sour cream

 

Fennel Veggie Soup, Quick (less than 30 minutes) & easy recipe for a light lunch or dinner. Add some toasted seeds and herbs and you got yourself a hearty and nutritious meal. Biljana Hutchinson #soup #lunch #LightLunch #vegetarian #recipe #EasyRecipes #QuickAndEasy

 

Place the pot with 1,2l of water on the high heat. In the meantime, wash fennel and the rest of the veggies and cut them into chunks. When the water is boiling, put all the ingredients together in the pan, reduce the heat to medium-high and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. (Use the fork to check if they are ready.)

Blend it either in a blender or with a stick mixer and season to taste. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and serve.

 

Serving

Either serve it my favourite way, with a sprinkle of toasted seeds, croutons and fresh coriander or, my kids’ favourite way, with a dollop of creme fresh or sour cream.

You can turn my favourite way into your favourite way by making your combination of seeds and herbs. I picked poppy, sesame, linseeds, pumpkin and sunflower because they are my favourite and I always have them ready.

If there are some extra seeds, store them in a glass jar and use to sprinkle your breakfast cereal or a salad.

Herb-wise, the same thing – make it your own. Instead of parsley or coriander, you can use dill, basil or chives, even tarragon. Careful with tarragon though, it’s quite intensive. Keep your hand steady as little goes a long way.

You could eat the soup plain too, skipping all the extra bits and bobs. It’s delicious on its own. I just like to add to it for heartiness and nutrition.

 

Fennel Veggie Soup, Quick (less than 30 minutes) & easy recipe for a light lunch or dinner. Add some toasted seeds and herbs and you got yourself a hearty and nutritious meal. Biljana Hutchinson #soup #lunch #LightLunch #vegetarian #recipe #EasyRecipes #QuickAndEasy

 

Seed & Spice Toasting

Pick your seeds, in a dry pan with them, heat them up to medium and toss them for a few minutes. At the first whiff of the spicy smoke, take them off the heat. They are ready. For extra crunchiness, you could leave them in the pan for another 30 seconds or so.

Careful not to leave the seeds in the heat unattended cause they burn easily and more often than not go bitter. You’ll have to bin them and start from the beginning.

This whole toasting venture takes about 5 minutes, and the flavour and aroma they give to the dishes are fantastic and so worth it!

 

What’s your favourite soup? Or lunch? Please comment and share so we can inspire each other and exchange some recipes.

If you liked this post, you might try my casserole recipe too.

You could also share this recipe with your friends by clicking the buttons below to tweet it, facebook it, pin it or google + it (or more!). Your sharing will help me spread the word, build my blog and make my day. Cheers for your caring!