Archive for ‘Questions and Answers’

2018, July 6

Things I won’t achieve by 31

With my birthday in mind, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a couple of things that I haven’t achieved. The blog post won’t be a bummer though, I promise.

While the things listed below are definitely things I haven’t achieved, they are also things that I figured I would achieve or thought that I should achieve like anyone who has their life figured out at 30, let alone by the time they reach 31.

  1. Live with a friend – I’ve only ever lived at home with my mom/grandparents, with my ex boyfriend for a while, and with my current boyfriend for the past 4 years. Thinking back to my childhood however, I recall playing house with my friends and with several of them along the years, depending who I was closer with, discussing with how when we’d grow up, we’d get a place of our own and be roommates. We’d plan for what our apartment would look like from furniture to the pet we’d own, and even the plants on our window sills.
  2. Work as a teacher, veterinarian, stewardess, interior designer – These were the top ideas I had for what I would become when I grew up/finished school. Now, I don’t want to be any of these things.
  3. Live abroad – This one might still be in the cards, since it’s not necessarily age-related, but I’m including it here, because I was actively searching for a job and trying to move abroad around eight years ago. I don’t regret it now, yet, had I not taken the job at the curtain shop in 2012, I could currently be living in the UK where the family whose little girl I was babysitting moved and where they took their nanny who came after me.
  4. Get married – Nine years ago, I was engaged. Before I broke things off, I figured I’d be married within two years time. Well, I’m glad I wasn’t, because in hindsight, it probably would’ve ended in divorce, like a lot of my high school friends’ marriages who got married before they turned 25.
  5. Have kids – I imagined I’d have kids one day. Goes almost hand in hand with the above one since I wouldn’t want kids before I got married. But honestly? It is such an expectation from society that one gets married and has kids, that until recent years I didn’t even stop to think if it’s only outside influences or my own wish. I’ve discovered that I probably don’t actually want to have kids.
  6. Write this blog post on time – I started the draft in March. My birthday was in May. My regular posting schedule is Friday and I am hitting publish on Monday, so on top the previously mentioned, this is also back-dated.

We make assumptions, we expect things to go a certain way, but Life doesn’t work like that. On the other hand, let me see a show of hands – have you had your life all figured out by the time you reached 30 or 31, or are you still working on it at insert current age here? What are some of the things you didn’t get to do/accomplish that you don’t regret?

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2018, June 1

Awkward money questions

I read The Financial Diet (TFD) on a regular basis, and when I noticed one of their “awkward money questions” interview, I figured I’d try to answer the questions myself.

  1. What’s the worst money you’ve ever spent in the name of romance?
    A weekend trip. Even though it resulted in a fun weekend and I enjoyed spending time with the guy, and exploring a new city I’ve never been to… I should not have spent that much while I was basically broke, had debt, and needed to borrow money just so I could go.
  2. What is a misguided purchase you’ve made to “upgrade” yourself?
    The Color Run, last year in my city. I needed motivation to keep running and training, and entering running races was the perfect way for me to do just that. All other races I entered were great and helped me keep in shape and training while also being fun. The Color Run however, was anything but a professionally organized race, and admission was steep for all that it ended up being (the happiest 5K in the World only summed up to 3,5K).
  3. What’s one guilty pleasure you spend on that you know you absolutely shouldn’t?
    Mugs. I love any kind of fun and interesting coffee cup, tea mug or drinking jug in all shapes and sizes. I have more than I could probably use up in a lifetime. I have gotten way better and refrain from buying new ones, but the occasional mug purchase still happens even though I really don’t need any new ones.
  4. What’s one thing you’re really cheap about that you know you should spend more money on?
    Self-care. I think of the cat, the BF, family and friends before I think of spending money on myself. I try to cut my own hair, do my own hair, make-up and nails as much as possible – going as far as borrowing a dress to wear at a wedding, because I don’t wear dresses often enough to justify buying a new one.
    I’m better at it when the BF nudges me to spend money on myself also and at least for special occasions I started getting manicures, and invested in a couple of dresses to have for weddings. However, I will probably cut my own hair until I can still hold scissors with a steady-enough hand.
  5. What is something that 2018 Estrella does that 2008 Estrella would have never thought possible?
    Wiring money into my savings account, and into private pension account every month.

Now I’m curious. What would your replies be to the above questions? Feel free to leave your answers in a comment below.

2018, May 25

Six Reasons to Smile – Spring 2018

This Spring has been busy. Well, that’s an understatement. I feel overworked, and not rested enough. But at least the not rested enough part also comes from being able to do some work around the house, and also enjoy some great warm weather during weekends.

I participated in the 8th Wizzair Marathon’s 10K race, and came in 118th, placing me in the first quarter of female participants. That’s not bad at all considering I only ran 5-6K races before and only a handful of 10Ks on my own. The winner ran the 10K in 35 minutes, so that is my goal for next year – getting my 10K as near to 35 minutes as possible (if not shorter!).

Aside from starting running regularly again, and as much walking as we can fit into our everydays, the BF and I finally got to take bike rides. We’ve ventured for longer and longer rides, now riding from home all the way to the city and back. That’s a 30km or so ride if we’re not taking detours. With detours we made it to 43km – our longest ride as of yet.
For my birthday, I wanted to go ride our bikes around Geamana Lake, but it was rainy last weekend. We’ve tried it in Autumn, but only got to half the lake’s length on account of it getting dark too early. I want to write a travel article about it, so it’s definitely happening sooner or later this Summer.

The scenes from nearly all my walks, runs and bike rides made me smile. It was hard to narrow it down and choose only three photos from them to include in my collage. The sunset, the poppies, and the black swan.
Talking about that, the black swan is one of the best sightings, ever, for me. I’ve never seen black ones (not even in a Zoo) before going on a run with a colleague in April! I looked it up and they’re not cygnets (which would be grey), they’re fully grown black swans. And so, very pretty!

We tried a sushi place we’ve never been to before, which turned out good. Not spectacular, but it was a nice evening out with friends. We had few evenings out with friends actually, because we did try to spend as much time outside during weekends as possible. Kinda wish our friends would be more outdoorsy, but on the other hand, I do enjoy spending time just the two of us and not having to adjust schedules to anyone else’s needs, so not complaining!

We did some home renovation work, putting down carpet in the living room-bedroom combo, building some doors for our closet so the kitty can’t munch on my shoelaces and tank top straps anymore, and did a major cleaning of the balcony throwing away everything we didn’t need anymore or that was broken and organized the stuff we did keep, like tools and such.

I had a lot of fun, even taking the kitty out on the balcony with me, setting up a pretty little balcony “garden”. I’ll share pics of flowers in my Summer six reasons post though, as most of the plants newly potted are very nice and green, but haven’t bloomed yet. Hmm… or I might write a separate blog post about my balcony garden and detail what plants I’ve got.

Did you smile a lot this Spring? This month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2018, May 11

Fiction Blog Tour: Louisiana Catch by Sweta Vikram

Today’s blog post is a stop on Sweta Vikram’s Fiction Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours.

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I wanted to read Louisiana Catch, because it seemed like a great book to read where the issues of abuse, grief and personal growth and transformation are well-detailed within a story line. The book didn’t fail to provide just that!

As is with many of the books I read, after starting to read I began to see similarities between Ahana and myself. In today’s World, it is all too easy and almost a given one experiences abuse, in some form or other, on a daily basis. Verbal abuse, raunchy humor, mean comments, e-mails and the alike come to mind off the bat.

Some may say that the novel’s ending is predictable, or that something gets lost in cliches, but I can only imagine since it is so difficult in real-life to navigate the above mentioned, the range of emotions Ahana must’ve felt when faced/being stuck with abuse and topping it off with the loss of her mother.

Moving on is difficult, and you feel like there is no escape. There won’t be sunny days anymore even if you’re already got sunburn for the third time this year. Something as simple as looking out the window can feel daunting and you might close your eyes every time you walk past your bedroom curtain from a certain angle. Even simply talking about such things is difficult, because most of the time we don’t have people around us who truly understand, not having gone through the same experiences.
Grief is personal, and this novel helped me navigate some of mine.

I believe that this novel shows us, in Ahana, a woman who dares to take charge of her own life. We take so many things for granted in the communities we live, we don’t think of other cultures. And we also don’t think much of abse happening in our own homes if it’s not happening to us. I believe that the story here would make people think of who they are letting into their lives, and who they let close enough to hurt them.

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Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death and her dark past by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate the Annual Women’s Conference to raise awareness around violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.

Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about trust and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her faith in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues: both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

Published this April by Modern History Press, you can find Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s 268 pages long book, Louisiana Catch, on GoodReadsAmazonBarnes & Nobleand Powells.

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Louisiana Catch is a triumph. In Ahana, Sweta Vikram has created an unforgettable character, strong, wise, and deeply human, who’ll inspire a new generation struggling to come to terms with their identity in a world of blurring identities.”  Karan Bajaj, New York Times bestselling author, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

“In Louisiana Catch, Sweta Vikram brings life to complex human rights issues of violence against women. Through one woman’s journey to make sense of and ultimately heal, Vikram shows us that yoga can reconnect us to ourselves and that by empowering others we transform our own lives.”  – Zoe Lepage, Founder, Exhale to Inhale

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More about the author:

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a best-selling author of 11 books, a wellness columnist, and a mindfulness writing coach.  Featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” Sweta writes about women, multiculturalism, and identity. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nice countries and three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel.

Born in India, Sweta grew up between the Indian Himalayas, Northern Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. Exposure to this vast societal spectrum inspired her to become an advocate for social issues and also to get certified as a Holistic Health Counselor. In this avatar, Sweta is the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife through which she helps people elevate their productivity and creativity using Ayurveda and yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Sweta also teaches yoga and mindfulness to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. She lives with her husband in New York City.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Sweta Vikram’s website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

2018, March 16

Six Reasons to Smile – Winter 2017/2018

This is my fourth blog post in the “Six Reasons to Smile” series.

Winter was more 2018 than 2017, but hey, it’s a pretty season anyways, right? I was incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity of taking a longer period off from work during the holidays. I got to finally adjust better to my surroundings and all the new situations in my life, to mindfully rest and decompress even though I was still very much active physically.
I wasn’t as much into the whole holiday festive season as I usually am, but I made it work. The highlight of my Winter was definitely the trip to Skopje, Macedonia we took with my boyfriend. We just had the best time!

On the other hand, I am posting this in March because Winter decided to give it another go in my country. While schools were closed for a few days last week, and national roads were closed off to traffic, here in my city we enjoyed a beautiful chill Winter scene with snow-globe-like snowfall, chilly-yet-lovely and crisp weather. I went to the ice skating rink two more times before the season ended. Actually, I went nearly every week this Winter and I called that me-time my ice skate dates with myself.

I walked my usual running routes in a pretty Winter setting and loved every second of it! While on such a walk near my home the other day, I even discovered, after three and a half years living in this town, that one of the churches bells sing Ave Maria.

Here are the reasons I smiled this Winter:

Did you smile a lot this Winter? This month? What were your reasons? In case you’ve also captured them on camera, I’d love to see!

2018, January 19

Every Day Matters

After a very nice holiday trip to Skopje, Macedonia, I came home to my diary and started planning my 2018. A dear friend of mine sent me the “Every Day Matters”  illustrated holistic diary created by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present for Christmas.

I suspect my friend thought of this, because on the one hand I’ve been quite depressed for the better half of 2017 after our dear sweet kitten died and pretty much felt like none of my days mattered. (I feel so blessed to have someone like her in my life. Thank you, Trisha!)
On the other hand, she also knows I’ve followed Dani’s 30 day photo challenges yearly since 2011. (Those photo challenges even prompted me to start a photo challenge of my own.)

As it says in the description if it, “the planner not only has plenty of space for daily planning, but also offers inspiring advice on how to make each and every day really matter.” I am looking forward to it being a resource for enriching my daily life, guiding me through a journey of awareness and fulfillment as I’ll go about my everyday activities. Who knows? This might just be the diary/planner I fully fill out.
I’ve only been that disciplined with one other planner thus far in the 30 years of my existence.

For today, I thought to share a list with you. The theme for January is Openness, and the prompt for the first week of the month is a suggestion to write a list of five feel-good surprises from last year. I feel that so much of last year has been spent in grief I definitely didn’t pay much attention to letting happiness find me. It was actually hard to think of five things. I like that this comes first in the planner.

Five feel-good surprises from 2017:

  1. A phone call my boyfriend received to pick up his diploma, which led to us taking a trip to pick it up around my birthday.
  2. Google Maps taking us the wrong way during a road trip, but leading to the most scenic ride through the forest.
  3. Receiving a bike for my birthday – I’ve wanted to buy myself one for the past five years at least, but never got around to it.
  4. Out of a five-people team, being the only one asked to hand over her project work in person at the client’s site in the UK.
  5. Receiving the out-of-the-blue gift that included my Christmas present, this diary.

Now I’m wondering, what was your 2017 like overall? And what are your five feel-good surprises from last year? Do share in the comment section below!

2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

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