Wow. It’s JULY.

Can you believe it?!?!

Time has seriously flown, I find myself waking up every morning wishing for more hours in the day or for the seconds to simply slow down.

July also means we’re headed into the last half of 2017. Six months ago I posted about my ‘this time next year’ challenge, and there were so many people who got involved. Sending me their goals, secretly written down and sealed in envelopes for me to store away until the end of the year.

I thought today was a good opportunity to have a think about my own and see how I was getting on accomplishing mine.

Got to admit… it’s not going great.

Six months in and I am no way near hitting my goal for the year. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty disappointed in myself. For years I have set myself lists of objectives and I normally get through the majority of them. This year I simply challenged myself to one thing, just the ONE and I just can’t seem to do it!?!

So. I’ve decided I need a new plan of action.

Usually at a time like this I would be looking for ways to motivate myself. Kick start my brain into thinking “you can do this. You can do anything” but for this particular task, that approach is beginning to seem wasted.

Maybe I need to instead turn to why I’m not achieving it. What’s stopping me?

Are the factors that are stopping me from doing it greater than my will to succeed?

Surely that can’t be possible??

As it happens, I don’t believe it is possible, BUT I do believe that looking into my failings could actually be the key to winning this fight against myself.

Literally by chance, fate fed me a sign that I was finally on the right track.

As I worked through my morning chores, my TED app playing in the background, a talk by Tim Ferriss caught my attention instantly as he explained when it came to hard choices in life, we should be looking towards defining our fears rather than our goals.

And there it was. The answer to what I was struggling with. The challenge I set myself this year is very much more about addressing my failings rather than pushing myself with quotes on positive mental attitudes.

By working through the extremely simple methodology he lays out in his talk, I realised that there were a number of deeper issues that was stopping me from moving forward.

Now, I’m not quite ready to tell you what exactly my goal is yet, but I’m definitely feeling a lot more confident about being able to achieve it thanks to Tim.

He mentions a philosophy that relates to his practice: stoicism.

I knew nothing about stoicism until I heard his talk, but looking into the subject I’ve realised it is right up my street!

It’s defined as the following:

The endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

It sounds kind of harsh, but if you investigate further you’ll find that it simply means accepting that there are many physical and mental factors that are out of our control, however we have the capability to train our minds to deal with hardship through our thoughts.

I’ve talked many, many times about the importance of shifting paradigms, to better understand a situation and this is no different. When I’ve looked at Stephen Coveys paradigm shift stories in the past I’ve always spoke about using it to see how a situation affects others. From what I’ve read so far, stoicism seems very much about helping yourself. Self-preservation, self-control. Important skills which I’m pretty sure we could all do with some help on.

Rather than me continue to bore you, I recommend taking just ten minutes out of your night to have a watch of Tim’s talk.

If like me, you’ve been struggling to hit your goals, struggling to reach for that dream, maybe you too need to look at things differently. Sometimes we need to address the tough stuff in order to ease us on our way…

 

 
How are you getting on with your goals? Has anyone achieved there’s yet? How do you motivate yourself? Any tips are most welcome!! 

 

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be the change you wish to see in the world

 

You ever feel like you’re doing everything wrong? Ever sit and feel like the days are passing you by, the world is moving around you, it’s all just a blur. Just background noise and you’re not really part of it anymore.

I’ve been feeling like that for days, maybe even unknowingly for weeks. Perhaps months??

For years I’ve searched for something in my mind to just ‘click.’ That click that makes you sit back and think, yup, this is what I want my life to be about. I really thought blogging was my click. It has become an avenue of my life that is necessary for me to live, it defines me.

Or does it…??

The blog helped me focus on what I wanted, to dedicate my future goals to one thing that really made me happy, exploring the world. Discovering it’s beauty, learning new languages, new cultures. But at the same time the atrocities happening across the globe have begun to spurn this kind of anger and upset inside me as I just can’t understand why it doesn’t make others feel the same way.

Am I a hypocrite?

Do I really care as much as I say I care?

I can talk about it, get upset about it, but am I actually doing anything??

All these questions have been absolutely driving me crazy. I’ve been haunted by the words ‘well there’s not much we can do‘ which is all it seems people can say these days.

Is that true? Is there really nothing we can do?

In a state of complete uneasiness I couldn’t even look around my home on Saturday. All these luxuries I was surrounded by, made me feel quite ill. I made a decision to strip back. Wouldn’t be able to do it all at once, but in time I plan on getting there.

I made a start though. Flung open my wardrobe drawers and cleared a whole heap of stuff out. I’d already done this at the start of the year and even now just a few months later I managed to fill another two bin bags. Unnecessary excess. Gone.

I sat down and felt relief wash over me. One less thing on my mind. Little by little I hope to cull through our life of ‘excess’ and create a balance that works for both Mo and I.

I would say I’ll also start stripping down on makeup and other beauty based items that I use to create on overly glam version of myself – but I for sure don’t even know how to over glam myself so I think I’m pretty safe. I do use makeup, not all the time, but I do have it with me ready to slap on when I need to look ‘nice’ – I’m going to make an effort to try and rid myself of that crutch too once and for all (I’m not all that great at putting it on anyway!! LOL)

And what about my blog?

Has the blog become a life of excess?

I am forever grateful at how lucky I am that I’m able to take part in opportunities, meals out, trips away, blogging can open so many doors. I am conscious though that a lot of people believe that its fun and games all the time. They fail to realise how much work goes on behind the scenes. I’m sure every blogger out there gets frustrated with people assuming that there is minimal work involved in running your own website. I remember some time last year we had a travel linkup on travel blogger problems which was a fab topic choice as it laid bare a lot of facts readers perhaps would never have thought of.

A lot of assumptions get thrown around that I merely blog to blag myself free meals here and there (I must point out that a lot of what I do is paid for using my own dosh!) but in all seriousness I blog because I genuinely love writing. I always have. It’s a kind of personal therapy.

Should I feel bad about eating out every week?? Spending money on ‘fun’ when that money can go to better use?

Well I’ve thought a lot about this. And I think I need to simply try harder to find the right balance. At the end of the day, having fun with friends keeps me sane, helps me struggle through all the other drama so it would be daft to cut it all out. I work two jobs, write on here and volunteer once a week – so I think going out once or twice a week isn’t going to play too hard on my conscience.

However, I fully intend to make more of a an effort to look for events that are beneficial to society, such as charity escape room nights or the wonderful heart and parcel supper clubs – an excellent initiative that not only provides an evening of fine dining but you know the money you’ve paid goes towards a good cause. – If anyone knows of anything please drop me a message!!

There’s been a lot of talk recently though about the ‘faux’ reality of bloggers. Is it all smoke and mirrors? Are Instagram pics reflective of real life? Are filters and editing ruining experiences? Raising expectations only to result in disappointment.

Well I’ve fallen victim to a few of those ‘faux’ pics, but I can’t say much because I too use filters, I use editing – not much but at the end of the day I still use it.

I’ve decided from now on I will set my own photography guidelines – the only editing feature I will use in ANY instance – is brightness. Purely because I still want people to be able to see what I’m trying to show and a lot of places we go to have low lighting – for ambience of course. But I shall no longer be adjusting, sharpening, using any other tool that may be at my disposal (goes against a lot of my graphic design ways but hey ho).

I am also going to attempt a new approach… I’m going to try and limit the number of photos I take. Try and focus on fine-tuning my skills so just the one shot works. This might take a bit of practice, but I’m confident I will get there. A very talented photographer friend and I were having this discussion in Myanmar and she gave me a few tips on how to reduce the number of photos we take, so I’m going to give them a go, see what works and what doesn’t.

I just hate the idea that our lives have all become ones that are lived from behind a lens. As a traveller I’m a massive believer of ‘being’ in the moment. I don’t like how camera accessibility has taken a little bit of that away from us. It’s stealing our souls! And I’m saying that as a blogger.

A blogger friend recently embarked on a detox journey, part of which involved a digital one – you can read her story here. Now I don’t believe we need to completely get rid of our digital extensions… but I’m going to incorporate an element of detachment from my digital addiction just like Katya did.

Years ago I bought myself a book from Kikki K in Covent Garden and I’ve yet to crack it open, so this might be the perfect time to start working through.

Finally. what is my plan of action to deal with this…

images of war syria, palestine, somalia

Well I don’t know yet. I don’t even know where to start.

BUT

I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing. I will not be doing nothing.

It’s too easy for us all to think we’re too far away from it. My current volunteering project will be coming to an end in May so it’s the perfect opportunity for me to find a new outlet to help members of the community, my goal will be to find something centred around refugees. – If anyone based in Manchester knows of any agencies I can contact again, would appreciate a message.

And just like I’ve been doing all along, if I find an issue has affected me, you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be blogging about it. I really hope more bloggers start doing the same. Blogs have given us all a voice to communicate our feelings and to show a different side of the stories we see populating the news all day long.

I made a point in my disclaimer that I don’t like to write bad reviews but that doesn’t mean I want to shy away from the issues we face globally. I think the more of us that start to address or speak about these issues, the more awareness we can bring to them and maybe, just maybe, one day we will start to make some REAL changes with our words.

These girls are already doing it…

  • Sabina at GirlvsGlobe recently changed her blog direction to focus on sustainable travel and becoming environmentally friendly
  • Flora the Explorer is one of my favourite blogs around, she goes from place to place volunteering and shedding light on destinations some people don’t look twice at
  • Charlie on travel is a super inspiring read on all things sustainable, even adopting just a few points can really make a difference.

And I’m sure many more are too, I just need to find them, be inspired and learn from them and then share, share, share!

Lets flip this digital age into actually being helpful and stop being so hurtful to our environment and the people within it.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and letting me offload. I can breathe yet another sigh of relief that I am hopefully moving in the right direction.

God bless xxx

 

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love trumps hate part two

 

Last week POTUS Trump and his entourage (of ultra right wing fools) decided to stir things up once again with a new electronics ban, restricting travellers carrying laptops and other such devices on certain airlines from certain Muslim-majority countries.

But to my absolute horror, no sooner had we all been complaining about the US… than our very own BRITISH government went ahead and pretty much mirrored it.

What the *$%£ is going on?!?!

Oh, and I’m not done yet…

Even before the drama of the electronics ban unfolded, I was already feeling annoyed at the latest EU law that had come into place. A notion that was passed after two ladies wearing headscarves had been unfairly dismissed from work. Well, instead of the powers-that-be supporting them, a law has now been passed stating that employers possess the right to openly ban them.

Can you believe it? The law actually states that companies can ban employees from wearing a headscarf or any other items of religious attire or political symbols, so although it’s not completely targeted at Muslims, the reality is Muslims will make up the majority of people affected by it. This could affect my friends. My family. My very own mother! And of course, it does affect non-Muslims too, a women’s rights campaign group pointed out this is sending a message that faith communities are no longer welcome  – how is this fair??

Seriously, what the *$%£ is going on?!?!

Has everyone gone mad?

The WORST thing to come out of it, is of course being faced with the usual tirade of understanding from the general public, sympathising with the government’s decision because of course all of this has been put in place to protect us.

Protect us from what?!?!

Let’s be honest. this has absolutely nothing to do with protection – the electronics ban for example, a wonderful blogger quite rightly said in one of my facebook groups that if this had ben a matter of security, we would have had a GLOBAL electronics ban, not just one that targets certain countries – the so-called ‘terror’ states.

Pfft. What a load of cobblers this all is.

Terror in the media has officially become dictated by race and religion. FACT. You can argue all you want to tell me otherwise, but I am telling you, you won’t find anything to prove otherwise. I wish you could, I really do! Because as a British Indian Muslim I actually fall into that ‘terrorist’ bracket. I have the skin, the features, the beliefs that may make people look at me in suspicion. I dread to think what it would be like if I didn’t have a British accent, or if I wore a headscarf???

Pfft. What a load of cobblers this has become.

Our governments are doing everything they can to pull us all apart.

To say that being different – is not safe. To say that certain types of people – are not safe.

This was evident last week, as social media was flooded with responses after the London stabbing incident, calling on the government to ‘shut the borders,’ ‘get the Muslims out,’ ‘banish the immigrants.’

It’s funny because I do also come across these phrases from people I know. It doesn’t even shock me anymore as people will quite happily say the above phrases quite casually and on seeing my expression usually try to turn it round with something like – ‘oh not people like you, you’re different you’re quite Western’ – like this in some way makes their belief any more justified.

Well it doesn’t. (and I’m quite happy to put them in their place about that!).

I will always do everything  I can to explain to people that being different is an AMAZING THING.

Being true to our culture, our heritage, our own personal opinion of religion is an AMAZING THING.

To be able to mingle, to converse, to laugh, joke with strangers and new people is an AMAZING THING.

 

 

This month’s Blogosphere magazine fuelled my love for my blog and for others in the blogging community. Here was a magazine that has profiled some of the biggest social influencers in the world and this months front cover… was a high profile Muslim blogger wearing a veil.

YES.

Yes. Yes. YES.

Thank you to the blogging community for recognising that us Muslims belong here! We are as much part of this world as everyone else. We don’t need this ‘terror’ to be following us round because 99.999999% of us are out there doing amazing things!! Just like Dina Tokio.

 

 

Dina Tokio, a Muslim lifestyle blogger, has a following of over one million on instagram and she wears her hijab (headscarf) with pride. She shows that you can bring together faith and fashion, an example to Muslim and non-Muslim women everywhere that no matter what climate the world may be in right now she is standing proud representing her beliefs, with her own personal style. And she’s smashing it.

This is how bloggers will change the world, by involving and engaging openly with members of our community.

Without hate. Without prejudice. With acceptance.

We travel, because we want to learn.

We communicate, so we can meet new people.

We open our minds, so we can experience and be inspired by new cultures.

Nothing and no-one is out of bounds – nor should they be.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again and again, we are all human. We’re all the same species, we’re all in this together.

Don’t value one life over another – and if you think this is a cliché and it’s ridiculous that people like me keep banging on about it, well then I urge you to look deeper into last week’s news and ask yourself whether you gave each innocent civilian caught up in a disaster the same thoughts and prayers. Too many of us forget that there are people living each day in a state of ‘terror.’

I’m not wanting or trying to have a rant, I just wanted to make sure that people understand that not everything we are told in the news is true. And what might be construed as an act that has been created to keep you safe – may actually be doing more harm than good.

I urge you all to engage in conversation, ask questions, do research – I’m always happy to speak and to discuss elements of my culture and religion that others don’t understand, or are confused by.

I do what I can to be involved with projects that promote diversity; to support them, to share them, to learn from them – there’s still so much that I know I need to do.

Don’t EVER stop believing that you and your opinion doesn’t make a difference, because it does.

All good deeds begin at home.

All action starts with people like you and me.

Opinions and hearts can only be changed by replacing hate with love and openness.

 

Stay strong my fellow humans. We can get through this.

 

 

 

*** I love you all. Except you Trump, I don’t care very much for you. ***

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Looking out over the AlHambra in Spain 2016 image

 

Wow, it’s been a funny old year. All we hear in the news is how terrible it’s been, which in all fairness, it has, but I think when most of us look back at what’s happened, I’m sure we can say that it’s not been all bad.

As much as I feel I have been quite driven by anger and hurt over worldly issues over the last few months, on a more personal level, I’ve had quite an amazing year. The kind of year I never dreamed I would have. I’ve absolutely loved reading everyone’s round-up posts (and I want to read more so send me your links!) Even though they’ve been from bloggers I have followed all year, seeing everything condensed into one post, well it’s really something. I feel like the year has flown but at the same time I can’t actually get over how much has happened!?!?

So, I’m jumping on the blogging bandwagon and I’m going to take a few moments today to look back at my highlights:

 

Best Travel moments:

I hate choosing these, because I absolutely love them all!! Until I started looking back, I didn’t realise just how much we actually did over the year. We started off with a big trip to the Middle East with Mo’s family, where we spent time in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and then finished off with a spiritual trip to Saudi Arabia – which was absolutely amazing.

 

 

A few weeks later and I headed off for a weekend in Rotterdam with my Fantastic Four, which surprised us all and this city definitely captured our hearts. We originally only went for the Pal Mundo festival but managed to cram in a heck of a lot of sight seeing in the short time we were there and realised that Rotterdam is an exceptionally cool place.

 

 

Following that, I was then up and down the UK for a bit, Cardiff for Traverse, London – had a few trips here this year, Saltburn by the Sea with my wonderful familia, Leeds, Harrogate… list goes on.

 

 

In September, Mo and I decided to tick off micro-adventure on my 2016 to do list, and we flew to Spain, hired a car and spent 10 days exploring the South. It was fantastic and so different to our normal holiday agendas, we planned very little (which was evident when we couldn’t get in to certain attractions!) but we loved having the freedom to take each day as it comes (took a bit of getting used to but it was worth it).

 

 

Copenhagen and Stockholm (for Eurovision weekend!) were the other two city breaks we managed to cram in. Hopefully try and fit in a few more budget weekends next year (Denmark and Sweden aren’t the cheapest of places to visit).

 

 

Looking back I’ve realised I haven’t even finished blogging about half of these trips yet, I’ll have to play catch up and tell share some of my tales in the new year.

 

Best Food experiences:

So even though I travelled more than I thought I had, 2016 was definitely my year of food. I can’t think of anything I like more than trying out new dishes and discovering new flavour combinations and I definitely expanded my palate over the last 12 months.

 

 

Some of my greatest meals have been right here in Manchester, I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to many an opening and sample night and I’m so proud that our Northern city has really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the food scene.

Best food discovery? I know it’s not really a discovery, but considering I don’t have much of  sweet tooth, my love for poffertjes ever since our trip to Rotterdam has been ignited. I literally can’t get enough of those things.

Best food experience? Now that is tough. In April, I was amongst 12 winners to spend an evening at the School of Wok with the Macau tourist board. It was hosted by Jeremy Pang, founder of the school and the legendary Jonathon Phang, and it was such a lovely evening of cooking, eating and general merriment. That same trip I also had the pleasure of having Aldo Zilli join me for breakfast the next day. It was so nice to spend time with these two chefs that I’ve watched on various TV shows and listen to their stories and tales of working in the industry.

 

 

 

Celebrations, challenges and life lessons:

Oh, I’ve had plenty of these. I feel like it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster; from Brexit, to Trump, to war zones and the refugee crisis. It’s been a tough old year. I learnt that I’m not as organised as I thought I was and that sometimes you just need to take time to chill out.

Award ceremonies, weddings, launch nights, brief TV appearances, lots of dinners with friends, family… plenty of merriment! And it was a year where Mo and I found ourselves surrounded by people who were going through some seriously tough personal times. It made our friendships and love for each other tighter and made Mo and I grateful for having such wonderfully strong friends.

 

 

You know the best thing to come out of 2016? Amidst all the chaos, the drama, the headlines, the reviews and trips… I think this is actually the year I discovered who I am. For the first time in forever (I think that’s a Disney song line but I’ll roll with it) I feel like I know EXACTLY what I want to get out of my life. And what’s even more fantastic is for the first time in forever I think my Mo does too.

And none of that would have been at all possible without my family, my friends but I’m afraid most importantly… my BLOG!!!!

So, massive thanks to the world wide tinterweb for giving me a space to say what I want to say, to offload all my stories, learn lots of new and exciting computer skills.

Hope you all have a fantastic last day of 2016, and can’t wait to get cracking with the New Year 🙂

 

** Still time to send me over any ‘this time next year’ resolutions if anyone was still thinking of joining in! **

 

How’s 2016 treated you? Anyone sad to see it end? 

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#thisGirlcan

 

I recorded my first vlog the other day. It did not go to plan. I will be posting it on YouTube in the next few days, but for now I’m going to share what I was talking about on here, a platform I am much more comfortable with!

So why don’t you grab a cuppa and I’ll fill you in…WR10K ambassador (1)

Last week I received the wonderful news that for the next few months I will be representing Womens Running magazine as one of their ambassadors. Amazing! I was majorly excited, I was feeling super confident, my ego took over for some strange reason and I remember thinking wow this will be a piece of cake.

I ran the Great Manchester Run back in May, and although I absolutely loved taking part, I was extremely disappointed in my own performance at the race and applied for this opportunity with Womens Running to give me a second chance to redeem myself.

The Manchester Womens Running 10km run is in September and as one of their ambassadors I will be keeping them updated on my training progress and thoughts, in the hope we can encourage more people to get into running.

The weekend flew by. No training.

The week flew by. Still no training.

After the realisation of how unprepared I am, how overly confident I had acted and a few other external factors thrown in, well, on Friday night I somehow fell into this negative state of meltdown. A full on crazy sobbing emotional and physical breakdown (my poor poor husband).

Ultimately this resulted in another wasted weekend and Monday morning, after a number of motivational pep talks from my other half, I woke up, took a long hard look at myself in the mirror and thought – I seriously need to get a grip.

So I did.

I reminded myself why I signed up to do this in the first place:

1 – I need to get fit.

It’s not really about how I look, it’s about how I feel. I’m past 30 and I spend so much of my time sat at a computer so I know it’s more important than ever to start taking care of myself. My fitbit stats last week were absolutely SHOCKING! I know if I don’t get into some sort of routine now, I never will.

2 – I need to conquer this challenge

I started the blog as a way to prove that I could still travel, still go out and discover new things, new places, new cities whilst holding down a full time job. Now I need to take it to the next level and prove I can do the travelling, work full time, keep up the blog, freelance AND still look after myself.

3 – To encourage others to run

I’m probably being very stereotypical here, but in the Indian community – sport is not a big thing – thankfully that’s changing, but truth be told most of my Indian/Pakistani family and friends don’t take part in any regular exercise- especially the women. I looked at many, many lists of ‘top fitness bloggers’ and not one of them featured a blogger of Indian heritage. So I wanted to do this to stress the importance of exercise in our community – as high cholesterol. diabetes and heart disease is a big issue that can be tackled through a healthy lifestyle.

and lastly…

I love running

I love that anyone can do it anytime, anywhere. It’s got me through some hard times in the past and finishing any run has always given me a great feeling of achievement.

 

On Monday I got ready for work. I Powered through the day. I wrote a MASSIVE hit list of things to do. Created a work schedule. A training schedule. Recorded my first video. Packed my gym bag. Celebrated my wedding anniversary and went to bed feeling like my old self.

We all have our off days, sometimes its a few days where we don’t think we can do something, don’t feel like we’re good enough and stress and fatigue can make everything look dark.

You just need to remember you’re never alone, you’re not the only one and sadness isn’t always a bad thing as the very wise philosopher Francis Bacon reminds us – “in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present”

 

inspirational quote - Jet Set Chick

 

Bottom line I’ve got 53 days to prove – This Girl CAN.

Now…

Who’s with me?

 

 

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