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

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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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And Then I Met Margaret by Rob White Book Review

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Rob White’s book was the first book I reviewed in it’s-going-public way, and I was soooo excited to post it. It’s not perfect, you’ll see, but I will be kind to myself and say that all I wanted to do is get it out there. It was a way for me to pass the threshold between talking about doing something and doing it.

And Then I Met Margaret Book Review Biljana Hutchinson #personaldevelopment #nonfiction #bookreview #personaltransformation #mindset

And Then I Met Margaret is a quick and entertaining read that will make you reflect on the lessons we learn on our path of life and people that teach us those lessons. It got me thinking about unexpected gurus in my life and in what light I see people around me.

You can check out my full review at Online Book Club website.

If you like quick, motivational read with a self-help tone, where you can relate to myths Rob believed in and lessons he learnt, you can check it out here.

If you already read it, please share your thoughts with me.

 

 

 Pink Mist at Bristol Old Vic

 

alt= biljana pink mist

 

If there is one theatre play you want to watch this year, make it this one.

It is verse-drama that deals with the timeless human cost of war, with young people’s desire to belong and with love, acceptance, guilt… Tremendously important and beautiful in performance.

For me it was as emotional and personal as inspirational.

What’s All This Cooking Stuff!?

Maybe these recipes seem a bit random, but I came to love cooking, baking and all things kitchen. When combined with my family’s love for eating – it’s a perfect match.

Before I had children, I was not cooking nor baking for more than one reason: I worked long hours, and I lived on my own. Also, I wasn’t interested in learning how to cook after a 12-hour day in the field, and I mostly ate fast food on the go.

 

What's All This Cooking Stuff!?! How I became a passionate family chef, Biljana Hutchinson #cooking #chef #food #interest

 

My mum, a wise woman and a fantastic cook, used to tell me every time I’d say that maybe I should learn to cook this or that, ‘Don’t worry about it, when the time comes you’ll learn’. Or ‘Don’t worry about it, you’ll learn when you have to’. My menu consisted of eggs in 5 or 6 ways, pasta in 105 or 106 ways and three kinds of soup, two of which were from the packet.

Working in Afghanistan where we had cooks preparing delicious food for us didn’t do me any favours either. Until 2011 when my daughter was born. A few months later the time for me to learn how to cook had come.

Mum was there to help as she did and I started going to a local green market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. I started finding my own favourite local producers, buying meat from the butcher’s, fresh herbs and preparing food for our little girl and for us.

 

What's All This Cooking Stuff!?! How I became a passionate family chef, Biljana Hutchinson #cooking #chef #food #interest

 

I already read a lot about food and knew a little bit about healthy eating, dos and don ts of nutritionism, so this was a chance to apply my knowledge and expand it. And so I did. I read more about healthy eating, I talked to friends that knew about it more than me, I learned and learned and applied as much as I could to our everyday meal rituals creating new and improving our existing eating habits.

I started cooking, baking, brazing, grilling, kneading, you name it. There was a lot of burning of both me and the food at the beginning. But, I did it every day, trying something new, finding recipes and following them to the letter. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

While exploring cooking, I found that it helped tremendously with my healing too. It had pretty much the same effect on me as my therapy – my mind had a new focus in which I could fully engage not only because I was learning new things but because I could be creative in a brand new way.

Two years ago we moved back to the UK, and it was then that cooking indeed became my new passion in a sense that I started exploring, creating and combining ingredients outside of the recipes I had. I gained enough confidence to test combinations and my knowledge, and I am so happy and proud of myself that it’s working! Wooooohooooo!

So here I am – sharing my own recipes! How cool is that! If somebody had told me only two years ago that I’d be doing this, I would have laughed out loud to their silliness and throw them out for daring to ridicule me in my own house in front of my own kids secretly wanting them to be right after slamming the door behind them…

Cooking makes me happy and is one of the things that gives me a feeling of achievement at the end of the day. There will be plenty more food to prepare and enjoy and many more recipes to share

Coconut Squares

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Another one of my favourite desserts because it is moist with tasty chocolate glaze and quick. You can get these delicious little (or big) squares ready in about 30 minutes, so this recipe is handy to have when unexpected guests show up at your door. Or the expected ones but you realise that you forgot about the desert. Personal experience talk…

 

Coconut Squares, Recipe for a quick, easy & tasty dessert, Biljana Hutchinson #dessert #sweets #food #coconut
I bet you can hardly wait to try these 😉

 

Makes 16 – 20 squares

2 cups all-purpose flour (or, my favourite, wholemeal Spelt flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups light brown or Demerara sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup milk (skim is fine too)
1 tsp vanilla paste or seeds from 1 vanilla pod

 

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and coconut together. Whisk milk, yoghurt, oil and vanilla paste (or seeds) together and add to dry ingredients. Pour the batter into well-greased and sprinkled with flour 9×13 baking pan and bake it in a preheated oven at 180C (350F) degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.

 

Chocolate Glaze

 

While your squares are baking, prepare the glaze in a small pan. Place:
100g cooking chocolate (plain or milk)
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp milk

and melt it on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the pan.

 

Once the squares are ready, take them out of the oven and pour hot glaze over them. Let them cool before serving. Enjoy your dessert warm or cold with cream or ice-cream to your taste or simply on its own. Don’t forget a cup of coffee or tea…

 

You can keep them in a plastic container in the fridge for about 4-5 days, but if your house is anything like ours, the squares don’t stand a chance for more than a day :).