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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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

The Perfect Time

Ever wonder what a definition of a perfect time is?

It took me a long while to make my own definition and realise when my perfect time is. As usual, I did it by the learning-from-my-mistakes method.

Does it happen to you that, for example, you go through your wardrobe in the morning getting ready for work and you see that dress you bought a few months ago, but have never worn it yet, thinking every time you see it ‘I’ll wear it on a special occasion’? Or, there is that bottle of wine in your cupboard, that you bought in the vineyard last year or during the French wine presentation and haven’t opened yet because it’s not special enough meal? Is there a restaurant that you spotted on your way to the green market and kept thinking of going to but the occasion is not good enough? Or, that new perfume you bought, is too good to wear it for work? Does it happen?

I used to be exactly the same, but I had no definition of a ‘special occasion’. I would leave dresses, perfumes, shoes or drinks for special occasions that I could not define, but I knew that they were not everyday ones (eyebrow up) until I started working in the war zone. Through my work, I met so many people whose lives were interrupted in horrific, unexpected and indescribable ways and many of them regretted little and simple things that we take for granted or we wait special occasions to do.

By the time we realise the definition of the special occasion, if we ever do, it is often too late.

The Perfect Time, Why not just take action instead of wait, Biljana Hutchinson #SelfLove #NowIsTheTime #action #now

A few months ago, a good friend of mine was moving abroad and asked me if she could leave some boxes in our attic. Yes, I said and helped her pack and move the boxes. While packing, we came across a beautiful green silk dress and beige silk cardigan that I fell in love with at first site. The conversation between my friend and me went something like this.

‘Aren’t you taking this beautiful cardigan with you, you can certainly wear it there?’.

‘That is a 350 euro cardigan, too expensive.’

‘Even better reason to enjoy every opportunity in it’.

‘I will destroy it and what if I die?’

‘Well, if you die you were at least enjoying your cardigan, woman!’

‘No’ my friend said, ‘I want it saved’.

‘Saved for what?’, I asked, but my friend never answered and decided that the gorgeous cardigan is better off in a dark box in our attic than on her in summer eves.

A similar conversation happened tonight while I was posting my pile of to-be-read books on my #Litsy account. One of my followers, commenting on one of the books, said that she was waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to read it, but that she was not sure when that will be…

The Perfect Time, Why not act now because now is the perfect time, Biljana Hutchinson #SelfLove #Now #Action #NowIsTheTime

We work long and stressful hours in the offices full of people that we may or, more often, may not like, doing the work that, if fortunate, we love. We hear bad news every single day, we read posts on our social media feeds that have no relevance to our lives, we conform to wishes, plans and rules of our partners, children, family, colleagues, bosses or, if we are lucky, we make compromises.

What can we do to feel better about ourselves?

Indulge ourselves. Make events out of little things that will make a whole lot of a difference in our daily lives. Put on that dress or that favourite expensive shirt and go to work. If there is a particular dress code at work, then wear it when meeting friends for coffee or dinner. Don’t forget to spray that favourite perfume of yours. When you return home, while still in the same glamorous outfit, open that special bottle of wine. Then toss those Prada (or not) shoes off your feet, lift the feet on the table and take a sip. When you’re ready, put on your nighty for special occasions, you know the one (wink, wink), grab a book that you had your eye on for so long and finish that day like a queen or king.

My learning curve to indulge myself had its highs and lows. Lows were really low especially after the trauma I went through. I was not able to keep the momentum during my up times. Then I realised that I need to be proactive. I need to be on top of myself to keep the momentum. Also, I needed a plan. So, I made one. It wasn’t a perfect one, but I had it. I made an essential step in the right direction.

I learnt that every day deserves a celebration. Every time I felt like doing something – I did it or took steps to make it happen. Because that was my special occasion and my perfect time. Exactly when I felt like it. I learnt the lesson, although it took me some time and effort. Why wait, what for? I decided not to. Make any time the perfect time because you deserve it. Chin-chin!

 

Book Update

longmorninggoodbye

For those of you who follow, you know that the working title of the book was In Extremis. A close friend of mine who worked with me on it from the beginning which was almost three years ago came up with the title, I loved it, and we were even contemplating on keeping it for publishing.

Then, I stopped writing for different reasons for about two years. Earlier this year, in March, when I decided to finish the book and thus wrap up the last six years of my life, I googled the title and a list of eight (?!), not one, not two but eight different books with the same title opened up before me.

At the time, Ivana was already working on the book cover, and she came up with that beautiful first one, that is still my favourite, the white one with poppies that resemble blood stains around the gunshot wounds.

 

About Page, Book cover and what else can you expect from my blog, Biljana Hutchinson
Book cover. Still working on the book…

 

‘I have to change the title’, I said to Ivana and so the email exchange started. Ivana understood and was able to quickly translate everything that I gave her into that beautiful cover that you can see now with the new title.

At the moment, there are 30 000 words in the manuscript, and there will be about or up to 20 000 more. Updates on the writing to continue as writing continues…

How do you like the cover?

 

Revisiting New Year’s Resolutions

alt="Biljana Hutchinson rainbow reading"

I was out of reach for a while. When I’m not in a good place, I tend to disappear or hide. It helps me mull over whatever is bothering me and then get back to the world with a smile on my face to resume where I left off in public life. The smile means I won. Even if I didn’t get what I wanted in any sense of the word, the smile is there because I’m over it and I’m moving on.

When I’m ‘off air’, I read. A lot. In my previous life of development worker, in blue times I’d immerse myself in work because I always believed that work is the cure for heartache or a headache. So the recipe for ‘getting over’ things was work and books in whatever ratio worked best.

Now, as a stay-at-home mum, things are different, better in certain ways. That being so, I don’t have my work to hide behind so I am pretty much forced to talk things through and deal with them better and sooner. Sooner being the key word here. Before, I’d let things simmer down to the point where they become insignificant so there is no need to talk them through. For me, that is. Looking back now, I realise that that was quite selfish of me because maybe that other person or persons would still have found them significant. Maybe or I hope that they forgave me because I don’t remember losing many connections over time. I may be overthinking this a bit too… There’s my new NY resolution: don’t overthink.

We are more than half of 2016 down the road and after a short break, I thought that this would be the right time to revisit some of the 2016 resolutions. Well, the four most important ones.

 

Revisiting New Year Resolutions, The everlasting activity - NY resolutions. What I have set myself agains and where I got so far. What's your NY resolution? Biljana Hutchinson #NewYearResolutions #resolutions

 

The first most important NY resolutions was to talk things through and as I was saying, I have less space now to deal with things so I have to deal with them in a very practical and tangible way, in order to get back to my everyday life as quickly as possible, because a three-year-old and a four-and-a-half-year-old will not wait and I’ll give you a clue: their concept of patience is next to nonexistent and even if there was one they don’t find it as important.

So, when I hit the blues I talked things through and it felt great because it took me way less time to get back on track.

I also read. Books are a constant in dealing with everything and anything and they are there for better or for worse, so whatever the mood there is a book that matches it. However, I still don’t manage to read as many books as I want, which leads me to the second one of my 2016 resolutions – read 50 books. (I know, I know, but I’m a slow reader and not very good at time management). Nevertheless, I am proud to say that I am well on track and I feel great about it mainly because my mental state is way better than before for two reasons. First, I save myself from unnecessary stress over current world affairs, mainly terrorist attacks, immigration and Brexit, but also because I learn more and get inspired.

The third most important New Year’s resolution was to reduce the time spent in front of the TV and on social networks and you know what? It works perfectly on many levels; not only do we as a family focus on each other more and spend more time together playing, learning and exploring but I also get more time for myself to read, write, learn new things, start new ventures and (re)connect with some old and new friends.

To be clear, I follow the news as I am news-addict, but I have time slots allocated for that – twice a day, morning and evening for about 20-30 minutes and I am still on my social network profiles, but again within my self-imposed timeslots. It started with the decision that every time I was about to reach for my phone to check what is new on my Facebook feed I would actually reach for a book instead. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, I had cold sweats, hands were shaking and all that, but I won!

The last most important resolution was to eat less cake. I consistently add the resolution to the list and I consistently fail it and that is the only successful moment about this resolution. Consistency is good, I keep hearing, so maybe it’s all about the perspective…

It feels good and also right not only to reclaim the time that I so foolishly gave away for the TV but also to reclaim myself. And cake. Always claim the cake.