notes on elegance #5: smile

hello lovelies,

today’s topic is a simple but very important one. i’ve been realising lately that no matter how much effort i put into planing hair, makeup and clothes, nothing will ever beat the power of a smile. i’m not suggesting to force yourself to smile but rather to cultivate inner peace which in turn, will lead you to smile softly.

i’ve often seen people who seem elegant physically but give off a negative aura. what i wish for myself is to feel grateful, content, and at peace. seems like a lot, but i honestly believe everyone has the right to feel that way, all the time.

i personally try to watch my thinking patterns and try to cultivate positive and loving thoughts. whether it’s criticising another or myself, it doesn’t do any good. by smiling, i remind myself what a joy it is it live and what a blessing it is to feel creative and learn from other people. by smiling, i want to connect and extend warm-heartedness to others. much like how you would smile to a cute baby in a stroller who brings a light of joy in your day.

let me know how you feel about today’s fast-paced world and the difficulty to reach out to others. i’d love to know what you think!

until next time,

marie

notes on elegance #4: soft confidence

hi everyone! hope you’re doing well.

today’s topic is one that we’ve probably all struggled with at some point in our lives. confidence is a word we’re taught young. self-confidence is valued by many but also fragile.

i’ve always thought i was a confident person. however, lately, i’ve found that i might have projected that image but deep down, i’ve had many moments of uncertainty.

to me, self-confidence is not to be able to speak eloquently, win arguments or have an impeccable physical appearance. to me, confidence isn’t harsh, it isn’t pushy and it is not selfish.

i’ve worked on my self-confidence mainly through faith. if spirituality is your thing, i highly encourage that you explore your own faith and even branch out to other faiths/philosophies.

so far, i’ve learned that self-confidence is soft. it is patient, it is loving. it goes hand in hand with compassion and a love for others. i’ve often heard that you must love yourself in order to love others. however, rather than endlessly focusing on taking care of the self, i try to be compassionate towards others and apply the same compassion towards myself.

to me, to be softly confident means:

1. patience: it’s ok if you’re not like others and if others don’t agree with you. be patient, what you truly seek will come to you in due time.

2. kindness: towards others and towards yourself. treat others with respect and treat yourself the same way. everyone is incredible in their own unique way, and so are you. be as healthy as you can and take care of the ones you love.

3. optimism: learn to have a positive outlook. frustration and sadness may block the way to feeling happy about our current situations. count your blessings and make the most of what you have.

4. be in the moment: enjoy to simply be. if a situation is difficult, work through it with the energy you have and be as considerate as possible.

5. love: to be in love does not mean to be in a romantic relationship. to be in love is to be thankful, to be caring and to be in the moment. single friends, don’t despair. if you’re in love with your life and your relationships, your true love will find you quickly.

i hope you enjoyed this post on self-confidence. as a closing reminder: be patient, be kind and be in love.

xoxo

marie

notes on elegance #1

Elegance is usually confused with superficiality, fashion, lack of depth. This is a serious mistake: human beings need to have elegance in their actions and in their posture because this word is synonymous with good taste, amiability, equilibrium and harmony.

– Paul Coelho

hello everyone!

to follow up on my last blog post, i wanted to create a new series titled “notes on elegance”.

in today’s whirlwind of a world, it’s sometimes difficult to take a moment and evaluate your relationships and interactions with others.

i’ve always been a sensitive person, which as most of you may know, can be a very good or bad thing. i’ve noticed that i tend to get bothered easily if people are rude, aggressive, or hurtful, but also can feel extremely happy to find kindred spirits and see positive and generous actions.

i’ve also noticed that i haven’t been the best example. lately i’ve been focusing on trying to find balance in both my life and relationships. i’m learning to be patient, compassionate and loving with myself and others. it’s a hard process to go through, especially since people and society tend to be unforgiving and have high expectations.

since i love to make lists and categorise, i’ve come up with areas of my life that i feel need brushing up on:

– self-respect: faith, good diet habits, good sleep habits, exercising, positive self-image

– compassion towards others: improved listening skills, appropriate image (clothes, hair and makeup), openness when dealing with people with different philosophies

the paul coelho quote which opened this post seems to sum up these categories perfectly. the elegance which is associated with fashion and beauty may be part of an elegant image, but does not make a person elegant. i wish to be kind towards myself and others and in the future posts, i’ll be going the elements listed above and share how i am working on improving them.

i hope you can join me in this journey and please share your thoughts on the subject!

xoxo,

marie

on elegance and refinement

hello everyone! it’s been a while! hope you’re well and that you’re blessed with beautiful weather.

today i wanted to write about a subject that has been fascinating to me for a while now.

it’s not a surprise that in our day-to-day lives we encounter a lot of different people. that in itself is a wonderful thing, especially considering that it’s now possible to connect with people all over the world.

now, i don’t know about you, but i feel sometimes uneasy in social situations. i’ve always been one to always try to be as considerate to everyone, even if sometimes it’s difficult (telemarketers being a prime example). i found myself to be very critical towards strangers and people i know because i found them rude, inconsiderate, vulgar and even unhygienic. i didn’t like to see myself think and talk about people in that way. that’s not who i was brought up to be, and that’s not who i want to be.

i’ve decided to embark on a journey of personal refinement (like a lot of people). and i’ve encountered a few interesting observations along the way. and since i love lists, here are the top observations i’ve made about myself that i’d like to correct:

1. i talk loudly. and fast. and sometimes cut people off mid-sentence.

that’s something i’ve noticed seems to annoy quite a lot of people. especially when discussing something important. i’ve recently been in a difficult situation at work and found myself to be quite defensive. i noticed i did all of these and that i wasn’t being respectful towards the person i was talking to.

2. i don’t look and act as feminine as i feel.

i think that being overly feminine is somewhat looked down upon in certain social realms. i’m sure someone would have great fun writing an academic article on the subject! i don’t think it’s realistic for me to look “perfect” (ie. flawless hair, makeup and outfit) all the time, but i do notice that slouching, and some misshapen clothes make me feel not as good as i would want to.

3. i don’t always pay attention

whether it be with a chatty stranger or a good friend, i sometimes find myself not listening to people properly. when i realise someone is doing that to me, it makes me feel sad, and sometimes insecure. i hope to find a genuine interest towards people and be compassionate.

4. swearing

as a teenager, i swore all. the. time. my mother despised it, and i would sometimes slip up in front of people i wouldn’t want to swear in front of (a teacher or a cute guy would be good examples). i think i picked up swearing from my social group as a teen and now that i don’t see them anymore, it really doesn’t suit who i’ve become and how i want to be seen. this bad habit is nearly gone, i hardly ever swear. but when i do, i feel very disappointed, especially if it’s done casually without being mad or upset.

5. closing myself off from people

i realised how absent minded and closed off people looked on public transport. i try to limit mindless activities like checking my phone because i feel “bored”, listening to music on a portable device and crossing my arms. i also try to avoid doing any kind of personal grooming in public. i feel that i can take my own time later in the washroom and fix my hair, makeup or whatever else is wrong. being focused on oneself in public sends the message that you’re in your bubble and wished not to be disturbed. at least, it does to me. i love spontaneous conversation and i try to be in the moment as much as possibe.

i hope this post was interesting to you! do share your thoughts in the comments.

hugs,

marie

i know i should…

happy monday everyone!

i took a short break to sort some things but am back with observations i’ve made along the way.

my last post was on how i reduce stress in 10 steps. today’s post is getting to the root of the problem.

when i’m in a stressful situation (or difficult situation in general) i sometimes find myself trying to ignore the fact that i may not be dealing with it in the best way. there is a bunch of “i know i should…” that i am confronted with everyday and to be honest, in times like these, i don’t always have the courage to get over the fear of not getting something done.

so here goes…i know i should:

1. do things properly the first time

this applies to cleaning up, prepping for something in the future, explain something that bothers me to someone and many other things. sometimes you don’t want to deal with an outcome that you can’t control or you don’t want to deal with the task that seems too big to even begin. this is a vicious, vicious circle of procrastination and i am tired of it!

2. eat right/exercise

this is particularly obvious because i have been getting awful breakouts from the sugar i’ve been having! i have these periods where i have no problem cutting back on sugar (my favourite indulgence!) but then some little voice in my head will tell me “it’s okay to just have one….or another one…oh and it’s okay not to do that work out that you’ve been putting off! you deserve to rest!”. the thing is, that’s not resting. i always feel great after a light workout and a healthy meal and when i “rest” by doing nothing worthwhile, i find myself finding no true satisfaction whatsoever and consequently feeling stressed by what i could have done with my free time…

3. start a task right away

this is one step that i have been told since my early school years: do it now, not later. start now and get the most done. that’s incredibly true and even if you’re not able to finish something the first time around, at least you have something to build on the next time.

i will stop my “ease into things” method since it really does not help me in any way. i’ll keep that for lazy sunday mornings or a day where i’m planing to take it easy.

4. not over-think things.

do it, try and do your best. easy to say but takes a lot of practice!

whew! that’s about it! i hope that by putting all of this out there will help me even more to take the steps to prevent a lot of suffering! let me know how you prevent stress.

now i won’t tell myself “i know i should…” but rather “i will:”

lots of love,

marie

how i reduce stress in 10 steps

good morning everyone!

today’s post is all about stress. this time of the year is probably stressful for everyone: holiday shopping, prepping for exams, finishing tasks before the winter vacation…

i’ve come up with 10 easy ways to reduce stress that usually work for me. it’s normal that sometimes the stress is overwhelming but it is tamable. i hope these thoughts can help you manage whatever is stressful in your life!

1. breathe, smile.

easiest but also the hardest step. by breathing i mean, taking a moment and reflecting on the world around you. send away negative thoughts and invite positive ones. smile gently as you realise that there’s more to your stressful moment.

if you have the time, meditate simply by focusing on deep breaths. i find it extremely calming and it tames down any usurping thoughts that may corrupt what you have to do.

2. eat mindfully

when i am stressed, i definitely overeat. sugar and carbs are high on the list and i will reach for anything in my pantry that checks those boxes (bread, crackers, cereal…).

my tip for this one is to first ask yourself if you’re hungry (the answer is probably yes) and if you really have to eat something, eat it mindfully. do nothing else but eat what you have to eat and recollect on the taste and pleasure it gives you. one serving of what you are snacking on will probably suffice.

(this tip applies to every meal but by good habits start small!)

3. drink tea

tea is a wonderful way to wind down. i love drinking hot beverages when i’m feeling stressed. coffee and hot chocolate don’t cut it and i find tea to be the perfect answer to almost any problem. i always have a cup on my desk when i’m working.

i recommend a floral oolong like the tie guan yin (smells like lilacs!). excellent after a meal and very delicious.

extra tip: every time you’re taking a sip, breathe and recollect!

4. exercise

that’s something i still need to work on. exercise is the first thing off my list when i feel stressed/busy/overwhelmed. the feeling of exercising, however, is so therapeutic that it should be on top of my priority list! if i feel that i simply can not have a run in the morning, i try to walk a few extra bus stops or take breaks outside to have some fresh air.

5. make a list

this tip is tricky because seeing what you have to get done may be very scary. i like to make a list and list the items in order of priority. get things done in order and leave the best or easiest for last.

if you’re struggling with procrastination, i recommend the pomodoro technique which is essentially 25 minutes of uninterrupted work and a short break in between. after four “pomodoros”, take a longer break.

be careful when you’re taking a break. i often find myself gravitating towards blogs to read or other stationary activities. i realised that physically getting up (or the opposite if you’re working physically) and moving a bit really helps me to relax.

6. envision yourself getting it done

very simple and quite effective. what will you do after? how will you feel? thrive to a successful completion of your tasks and do them well so that the satisfaction is greater when all is finished.

7. take a good look at the world

when i’m feeling stressed i often feel very self-centered. “i” am stressed, “my work”, “my time” are all things i think about when i feel pressured. you are not alone and this is a good time to realise it. i love to take a moment and call friends and relatives to see how they’re doing and connect with them. it feels very refreshing to hear about someone else’s day and usually puts things into perspective.

8. give yourself limits

don’t overwork yourself! if you know that you need a good night’s sleep, make sure you get all of your hours. i usually like to stop working around 9PM. when i fail to meet that limit, i know i won’t be as effective the next day.

9. don’t neglect other tasks

cleaning, walking the dog, being part of a family…they all seem to be “unimportant”. take the time to really see what are your priorities in life, not just in your work life.

10. plan a reward after the big event/period

the best tip! after your stressful moment, plan a treat that will motivate you. i usually like a nice meal at a restaurant or a night in with a good movie and a hot chocolate. do what you love to do and make it grand! by that time, you will most definitely deserve it.

so those are my tips! hopefully they are helpful!

take care and don’t forget…breathe!

hugs,

marie

little changes

hello everyone!

it has been a busy week for me, november is definitely hectic over here! i’m looking forward to winding down with my family and cats when the winter break comes around.

today’s post is inspired by zen habits. i am currently going through leo babauta’s blog and love his simple, straightforward advice. i have been trying to find more balance in my life and trying to get rid of negative habits.

in order to avoid relapsing into old habits such as binge eating, procrastinating and being critical towards myself and others, i am starting with small, manageable steps:

1. drink more water

i have a little passion for skincare and beauty products but found that my diet and water intake didn’t really reflect that interest. instead of changing my whole diet in a single day, i am starting by being more mindful of the amount of water and tea that i drink.  i have done this in the past and saw dramatic differences in my skin’s condition and my general well-being. also, by making this small change, i saw myself drinking less coffee, and more tea. tea is truly a wonderful way to drink slowly and enjoy subtle flavours and sometimes i forget that and reach for coffee when in need of a caffeine boost.

2. make a realistic checklist of things to do

i have really high standards of what i want to accomplish in a day and to be honest, i almost never achieve what i thought i was capable of doing. i realised it wasn’t a question of potential or laziness but mostly not knowing how long a task takes to be successfully and satisfyingly accomplished. i really dislike finishing something for the sake of finishing it and i am trying to find balance in my everyday schedule to get things done properly and efficiently.

these days i find myself to be working at a slower pace but i am definitely more aware of how my attention span deviates and when i need to take a break. i hope that by studying how i work i can find a happy medium between being efficient and finishing tasks properly. making a checklist helps me keep track of my progress and see what truly fits in one day and what doesn’t.

3. meditation and spiritual time

november is slowly becoming more and more stressful and since i have the tendency to be quite anxious, i am working towards clearing my mind and thinking outside my (sometimes) overwhelming schedule. by meditating a few minutes a day, i feel more connected and compassionate to those around me and less anxious. i sometimes have days where i can’t seem to overcome the stress but i am finding myself generally calmer than previous busy months.

i also like to have spiritual moments where i recollect with my own faith and also by exploring what other faiths have to say. i have discovered really interesting and optimistic thoughts which do help me in everyday living. my spiritual life helps me to be thankful, optimistic and to open my heart to others. 

4. spend more time outside

cold weather tends to shut me in and while i love being at home, i also love seeing what the world has to offer. also, getting some sunshine is very important for me when i’m feeling stressed and i found that by taking the bus to commute (instead of the subway) and walking a little more helped me feel better physically and mentally. this asked for a little time management but i’ve found it to be completely worth it. i also like to be in a sort of meditative state where i channel my thoughts towards others and think optimistic thoughts. it helped me relieve stress and selfish thoughts and be more loving towards my family & friends as well as strangers.

5. no more sugar after lunch!

i’ve been trying to cut back sugar for the longest time and i’ve been having such a hard time. this baby step on the road to no-sugar living has helped me feel on top of the cravings. i’ve been doing research on the effects of sugar on our health and it’s not a pretty picture. thankfully, i stay away from most of the “super bad sugar” but do love fruit and chocolate and can binge on them like there’s no tomorrow. 

so that’s it! i hope this post is inspiring for those who struggle with a busy schedule. 

have a great day!!

marie