Book Review: 365 Days of Happiness: Because happiness is a piece of cake! by Jacqueline Pirtle

As you’ve probably seen in my last posts, 2019 is the year in which I want to make peace with myself and learn as much as I can about happiness, and what better way to learn about it than reading a book aimed to teach us how to embrace it?

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If you were a fan of The Secret, I have great news, you might have found another book to add to your reading list since 365 Days of Happiness starts from the idea of positive thinking and takes you through ways you can make it a routine in your life. We all know that we should put out positive energy in the Universe in order to receive it back, but how will we accommodate this?

Jacqueline’s book is a divided into 365 small chapters that act as the days that we have in a year, each day you learn how to accept happiness into your life, how to accept yourself for who you are, be present, to recognize when happiness is at your door.

One of the points that I absolutely loved was to accept sorrow and sadness when they come and visit, to live through these feelings but also to walk away from them when it no longer feels good. I read a lot of books that wanted to teach me to be happy by walking away and denying any negative feelings, unfortunately, life’s not working like that, we cannot run away from them, bad things will happen and we will have to go through them, but as the book says we should accept them, but also move away from them and not settle in unhappiness.

Another takeaway point was the idea of treating your happiness as a part of yourself, one that you have to nourish, to understand and to respect. To constantly try to create a healthy relationship with it and to be thankful for what you have. Even if these might sound like something obvious I am pretty sure most of you, like myself, forget to be kind to oneself and to take care of your own happiness. Instead of being thankful for what we have, we focus on what we would like to achieve and on the pitfalls of our life. Instead of focusing on the empty half of the glass, we should try to focus on the fact that we have the glass, to begin with, to understand why it’s not full, but to be happy and grateful that half of glass-filled.

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To be honest I would have loved to follow the author’s advice and keep the book by my bed and each morning to read one of her chapters, but unfortunately, I was way too curious so I went through all 365 days in a week and a half. That doesn’t mean that I will not turn to this book once I feel I need to be reminded. Personally, I loved the idea of small chapters that are perfect for reading in the morning while enjoying the first cup of coffee, starting the day with the correct mindset that should be kept until the next day.

I feel like 365 Days of Happiness is the type of book that you should have on your mobile phone or on an ebook that you always keep by your side, for whenever you feel down or that you just want to give up, pull it out and read a few chapters, it will make you feel lighter and positive in a few minutes.

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Being happy might not be something that will happen overnight, it’s something that needs to be understood, recognized and praised, and Jacqueline’s book can really help with getting a few steps closer to the overall goal, to be happy.

My Wish List for the New Year

With the 2018 end, it’s time for the traditional list of to do’s for 2019. A tradition that I started since 2012, was to write down all my wishes for the upcoming year and to check it only at the end of the next year. So here are a couple of the items that will go on my list in case you needed some inspiration for yours.

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Investing in health

With my 29th birthday around the corner, I want to invest as much as possible in my health. Exercising regularly, eating healthier food, meditating and doing all the medical check-ups are all on my list since health is the most important asset that one can have. Even if in the past I was not very strict in this area, I want to make a change in the upcoming year when I wish to say bye-bye to junk food and skipping the workout day. 2019 is the year to get back in shape.

Me time

Sometimes I have the tendency to put everyone else’s needs before mine and I try to please everyone. That behavior has to stop and I am planning on being more self-centered next year, even if I have to say no to someone else. Friends will understand and fake friends will disappear, so a win-win situation for me.

More time spent with my boyfriend and my pets

With everything that has been going on in 2018, the time spent with my family of 4 (me, my boyfriend and my 2 cats) has decreased a lot. Having 2 jobs and a blog made me a workaholic that forgot to breathe and relax. I plan on setting some ground rules when it comes to working in the following year so that I can enjoy as much time as possible with the most important beings from my life.

Time for reading, painting, writing, and Netflix

Doing the things I love the most is saving me from burnout and I plan on investing all the free time in them. Since the new apartment will accommodate a library, a place to paint by the window, my cozy bin bag and since I just made my first subscription to Netflix you can image how anxious I am to make the most of all of them. As for writing, I want to keep my rule of at least one article a week up.

Travel the world  

Traveling is extremely important to me and I have no desire to slow down onto this area, even if the list is not yet set, I am hoping that I will conquer some more ground in the next months. Whether it will be the crazy city of Tokyo, the old fashioned Havana or the most beautiful place on Earth for me, New York City, I am sure 2019 will bring some great experiences with it.

‘PM’ me I am ready!

No, I am not talking about private messaging, but about Project Management, a role that I have been dreaming and working my a*s of for the last 3 years is about to be offered to me. Both excited and frightened by it, I cannot wait for this new chapter to begin. If this will be a perfect fit for me or not, I am not sure, but I will definitely find out in the months to come.

Don’t know for you guys, but for me laying on a paper all the plans that I have for the following year have worked great. I am not a believer in “New Year, new me” but in “New year, better me”, so on each 1st of January I write down my wishes and for the rest of the 364 or 365 days I work on those wishes, some will come true, others won’t, some will make me happier others will make me realize that I have to sacrifice too much to make them true. It’s a new begging so cheers to that! Hope you guys will make yourselves a great new year, you deserve it!

2018 In Review

As we are almost leaving another year in the past is time to be grateful for all the memories of 2018. A year that for me was a crazy one, filled with adventures, huge decisions, and important life lessons, all in all, a great year that I am happy that I got to share with you all of you.

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A year of great travel experiences

In 2018 I got the chance to check a lot of the places from my wish list, such as Thailand ( Krabi, Phi Phi Island, Bangkok), Qatar (Doha), Spain ( Barcelona and Malaga), USA (Chicago), Austria ( Vienna), Malta (Valletta, Gozo, Sliema). With a new personal record of 22 flights, I feel like this year was truly a great one. I hope this record will be topped in the years to come.

The festival experience

Since 2 of the most important festivals from Europe are near Cluj-Napoca this year I checked both Electric Castle and Untold. Amazing time, with amazing people at a great place surrounded by electronic and live music. What more can I ask? Hope to see you all next year!

Work Work Work

Even if it might not sound as great as you might think, I am grateful for the job I have and the team that I am part of. Of course, there are many days when I just don’t want to go to the office, I also have some great accomplishments that make me ask for more. The same goes for my job as a freelancer that makes me learn and earn even more.

Writing as a passion

Even if I didn’t manage to invest as much time and energy as I wanted in the blog, I am still happy that I got the chance to still post an article every week. With the list of traveling articles getting larger, with a new series Month’s Favorite launched in December, with personal articles in Thoughts and Journal, but also with featuring a few pieces on Thought Catalog, I feel like BitterSweet will grow even more in the following period. The list of things to do in this area got even bigger for next year, so stay tuned, you will be hearing more from me.

Expressing myself through art

I have to say I wanted to brag about this area more this year, but unfortunately, I will not be able, with only a dozen books read and 2 acrylic paintings it’s hard to do so. I am really looking forward to getting back in shape next year since I will not let this part of my life be lost.

Shopping is my passion

This year I made the biggest purchase from my entire life and that is my apartment, it was a difficult and bumpy process that I am glad it is over. Now I finally settled down and call a place my own. Whether this means that I will never leave Romania I cannot say, but at least for now, I am happy in the beautiful city of Cluj-Napoca.

A couple of worthy mentions on this topic, even it these are clearly not as impressive as the previews one is the amazing new MacBook Pro that I got last month and the 2 bags that I wished for a while from Ted Backer and Kate Spade. These really completed my collection (for now, of course).

Relationship

Like wine, I am happy to see that my relationship is also getting better and better. With less drama and more confidence in one another, I am so happy that I found in my partner the friend that I needed the most, the traveler that I will always have by my side, the rock-solid ground when I am in trouble, the man that stands by me when I need him to and the person to set limits when I forget to do so. It’s great to have someone as crazy as myself on a road trip called life.

For me 2018 was a great year that thought me so much more about myself, I have grown so much as a woman and as an adult. I am very happy and proud of what I have accomplished even if I know there is so much more that I want to do in the years to come. But enough for now, since today is all about remembering the past year and the great experiences. Hope your year was just as good, see you in 2019!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Since it’s that time of the year, what better book to read than a cheesy Christmas love story? Accompanied by a cup of mulled wine, a cozy blanket and the smell of the Christmas tree I give you the best recipe for a night at home in December.

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The story describes 9 years from the life of Laurie and Jack, two people that briefly saw each other for a few seconds in December 2008, when she was on the bus and he was reading in the station. They both stared at each other, but she didn’t get off the bus and he never got on it, leaving them both with regret.

For a whole year Laurie, helped by Sarah, her best friend and roommate, tried to find the mysterious boy, with no success. Until one day when Sarah introduces her new boyfriend, Jack, with whom she is madly in love. Laurie recognizes Jack but realizes that she cannot say anything to destroy their happiness and so her struggle with the feelings she has for him begins.

The book will follow them in the next years while both Jack and Laurie go on with their lives, switch jobs, go through family drama or accidents, Laurie marries a different man. They even share a kiss on a snowy day but decide never to mention it, since that will hurt Sarah. I will not spoil the ending of the book, but as you have probably guessed it’s a happy one.

The book and the story is not a piece of art but is easy to read and at least for me, kept me glued to the sofa wanting to get to the end. I am not sure how is it for the rest of you, but for me reading a simple and romantic book during Christmas time is exactly what I need. Romance is definitely not dead while we still have these stories.

Book Review: A World Worth Seeing by Brian Nelson

How to better start autumn than with a traveler’s journal? If you ever wondered what it would be to quit your job and go see the world, then you found exactly the book you were looking for!

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A World Worth Seeing is the type of book that will make you want to get on a plane to your dream destination and never return to your mundane living. It might sound idyllic, but as the author is describing easier than it sounds. Narrated in a friendly manner you will be taken on a journey across the globe, with personal notes on each visited destination and photos of the iconic attractions. Even if you are among those who didn’t think traveling is for them, you might experience a change of heart just as you turn the last page.

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In the first chapter you will learn more about Brian’s life and how he ended up making the decision to leave America and go see the world, along with some very important information related to traveling, from visas to safety measures, costs, languages, weather and ways of sustaining yourself when you are abroad and you have to work for your next meal. You will also find tips and tricks for different parts of the world, like never getting your passport stamped in Israel since you will be denied entering other Muslim countries, or the type of vaccines you need to have before traveling to Africa, or even where to exchange money so that you get the best rate in Myanmar. Answers to questions you didn’t even know you have to ask are present in this first chapter entitled Vacation 101.

The next 5 chapters will be divided by each continent and contain the itinerary Brian took to check all major attractions from North and South America, Australia and the Pacific Islands, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and Africa. I have to say that I would have loved for him to go a little bit deeper with the description of each place he visited, but given the huge amount of cities that would have to take us a while to be able to finish reading.

As I read about places that I also checked I smiled and saw them once again but this time from a different perspective and part of an itinerary. Small dots on a map that are holding so many memories, some that happened and some that are waiting to happen. Creating a map is not always easy, neither is knowing what to expect when you get there, so reading about the alternatives are always welcome. I love the fact that now I have a roadmap of all the countries from each continent, not to mention inside information about locations that are not so easy to reach, for example North Korea, Venezuela, Columbia, Cambodia or Kenya, places that I never thought I would be interested in, are now part of my “master plan” as well.

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Travelling the world is on the bucket list of many of us, unfortunately not all have the courage to give it all up and live the dream, some of us are still influenced by the media and never get to leave their home country because “it is not safe out there”, failing to see that the danger is leaving inside their own mind. Reading the adventure of a traveler that is not doing this for the media, or to get money from advertising, is the best feedback about the world you can get, to see each country through his eyes makes you realize how lucky you are to be borne on a place like Earth. As the author finishes his book you are warned: “World travel can be addictive“, but this type of drug is exactly what we need to feel alive.

Book and Series Review: The Handmade’s Tale

In the last year I keep on hearing about the new HBO series that everyone has an opinion about, so I investigated a little bit and I found the root of the story, a book. I put in on my Kindle and keep trying to take some time for it. The time was never there, so I decided to start with the TV series first since I already have the HBO Go subscription. What I’ve seen was not for the weak ones at all, torture, discrimination, a new world where fanatic religions principles rule and lots of blood, watching The Handmade’s Tale is not a way of relaxing at all.

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I might give some spoiler alerts, but will try to keep it high level, the story is revolved around June, a wife, and mother that has seen America fall and transform into Gilead, a new society ruled by men. She tried running away when the new laws were installed but were caught before making it to Canada. She knows nothing of her daughter or husband.

In the new society, the highest in ranks are the commanders who can have wives and are engaged in political matters. Since childbirth is extremely rare and infertility is the main cause, the women that can have kids are trained and sent into the house of commanders to bear children for them. The act is considered religions one, going back to one passage from the Bible, the wives are also taking part by holding the handmade’s hands. Anything considered frivolous is prohibited, being gay is sentenced to death, but so is everything that has to do with science, other religions that the official one and any act against the system.

The women that weren’t apt for giving birth or were involved in frivolous acts in the past are sent to the colonies, where they are forced to work until they are exhausted, get sick and die. Being sent to the colonies is one of the worst punishments as a woman.

After only 3 episodes I was already so angry that I wanted to set the TV on fire, the amount of cruelty and injustice is enough to make anyone mad. So I tried taking a break from the series to try to focus on the book but ended up continuing with both. Even if the series keeps the original script of the book for the first season, I have to say that it added a lot of extra cruel details. The punishment scenes are not described in the book with the same amount of details and maybe it’s the visual effect, but to me, it looks a lot like torture and torture porn.

In a world as unjust as hours, it’s hard to imagine this can be taken to a new level, but even so, this type of preview made me shiver. Lots will think that is a good manner of showing the world what will happen if we don’t fight back, but I think we already have this system, but most of us don’t see it from our windows, we are the wives that take part in the rapping act and consider it for the greater good.

On Earth we still have places where the fanatic religions allow men to kill the unfaithful wives, stoning is still used for public execution. In countries like Thailand, we still have a huge number of kids sex slaves, in Europe, we have lots of women sold on the sex market. The high class still pays surrogate mothers to bear their children and in the poor countries, people are forced to work until exhaustion is extreme conditions for a few dollars a day, not to mention those who will sell their organs to be able to have something to eat. In Africa we still have children die of hunger and thirst. So don’t for a second think that Gilead is not real, it is, but we chose to look the other way.

Even if it’s going to be a tough one to read, I would make the book a mandatory read. It’s important to know what happens when we let ourselves lead by fanatics, it happened in the past and with our new leaders, it might happen again. Also, it’s important for us to know the problems that occur in poor countries and at least to stop encouraging cruelty. As for the series, I still have mixed feelings about it, maybe a bit too visual and cruel, it focuses so much on the violence that I have considered stop watching since it’s a bit too much for me.

Book Review: Sorry, I Have to Go by Agnès Martin-Lugand

If you have been following the book reviews posts that I made in the last months you already know that I am in love with Agnès’s writing style. My reviews on her other 2 books: Happy People Read and Drink Coffee and Don’t Worry Life is Easy can be found in the attached links. In her new book, she tells the story of Yael, a party girl from college that now lost her self in work getting everyone worried about her health.

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I hope I got your attention and you are curious about the workaholic’s story. Yael and her group of friends used to go out all the time and promise each-other they will never leave work get between them. After graduating from college and getting an internship at a translation company, Yeal lands the job when she expected the least. At the about same time, Marc one of her best friends vanishes from Paris and leaves the group without a goodbye. leaving her heartbroken and confused.

Ten years later, Yael is now a professional translator and helps with mitigation of businesses, she is what you would call an office b*tch that everyone hates. Her life only includes her work, she is in the office at 8 and leaves it at 10pm, barely has time to see her friends and her sister. Even when she agrees to meet them she is glued to the phone and usually leaves earlier to take care of work-related issues.

As soon as her boss propose her to become a partner at the firm, Yael starts working, even more, taking on more responsibilities, exhausting herself, making her eating disorder worst, she no longer sees anyone and is in the office all time driving her colleagues crazy.  At the same time, she runs into Marc, the old friend from their gang that disappeared after college leaving her waiting for him at a concert. Even if he explains what happened back then and apologizes for not having the guts to tell them all goodbye, Yael still doesn’t forgive him, but she does reunite him with the others.

Invited to a vacation with her sister’s at their childhood vacation home, she first declines, but then it’s forced by her boss to take a vacation and ends up just like in college with the squad. If her friends will help her lose up, enjoy the vacation and let go of the phone, or if an old flame will be reborn you will have to find out on your own by reading Agnès’s book.

Maybe it is because I somehow see myself in Yael since I am a bit of a workaholic myself, but I loved the book Sorry, I Have to Go the most. I will give away the fact that the end of the book is a happy one, but to get there our character has to go through hell and back. A great lesson for anyone who likes to lose himself in work and forget that the most important things cannot be bought and are not about a job. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the book was yet translated into English, but it can be found in French and Romanian.