What makes you happy

I am very bad at “self-care”, which the internet defines as;

“…the actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical and mental health”

The thing about it is, I’m mostly wired to focus on doing things to make the people around me happy (brag brag brag, I’m such a great person), and so doing things exclusively for myself feels like a bit of a waste of time and energy.

That being said, you have to collect the things that make you happy and know what they are, so you can call on them when you need them.

You also shouldn’t ever feel bad about what makes you happy (unless it’s murder. Don’t do murder guys). We are societally pretty great at deciding how to define other people based on their choice of activities, and quite often those definitions are derogatory. Which is rubbish of society. If you love something and it makes you happy, do the thing (except MURDER. GUYS).

So, here are a few of the things which make me happy.

  • Facemasks – guys. You can get so much done while also wearing a facemask, and then afterwards your skin is all BLAM I’M BRAND NEW BABY. It’s great.
  • Coffee – I’m not a coffee snob, it really all mostly tastes the same to me. But I love sitting down to a cup of coffee.
  • Twitter – I’ve explained this one before.
  • Working out – I have  a total love-hate relationship with exercise, but I get a huge buzz after doing a workout. Especially now I have one I can do at home, because I’m much less comfortable around other people.
  • Nail art – I got a gel lamp from Boyfriend for Christmas, and it’s the best thing. Also see my instagram for occasional nail adventures.
  • Food – It’s ok to like eating. Food is one of the greatest creations of the human race, there is so much magic and variety in food. Both cooking and eating.
  • Skyrim – My name is Sally, and I’ve played over 500 hours of Skyrim, a video game about being an adventurer in medieval world with dragons. It’s a wonderful  escapism, it is helping me to refine my motor skills (I don’t have great hand-eye coordination) and I find it very satisfying to complete quests.
  • Reading – I don’t read a lot of books, I’ve yet to get back the habit after losing it through university. But I get a weekly magazine which I love, and I read a lot of articles online.
  • Crafts – Doesn’t matter what it is, I love  making.
  • Good music – I have great taste in music (totally objective statement), and like with a facemask, you can do so much while listening to good music. Also included in this category are podcasts and radio plays.

10 years from now

It is entirely possible that my life is actually a narrative being played out in the head of some supreme being, and that just prior to me writing this, some otherworldly director has issued the direction “fade in…she sits at the desk in the front room, and opens her laptop”.

At this point in the story, I think most viewers have probably dozed off. Or, we’re still in the first 10 minutes and setting the scene. OR this is a flashback.

Regardless, I don’t think I’ve reached the interesting bit of my story yet. I’m not wishing my life away at all, just reflecting on the narrative arcs so far. I’d probably make a fairly good web-comic, with the right artist. My life isn’t thrilling, but it’s pretty funny, in a vaguely mundane but satisfying way.

There are a couple of things I don’t think are going to turn up in my story (so if you’ve been waiting for these, now might be the time to leave the cinema). I have too many physical problems to ever become a ninja, swamp/jungle adventurer, or to get a world record for “sport”. I am not going to do anything phenomenal in the world of science. I probably won’t ever be on TV.

Other than that though, it’s up for grabs. Let’s just wait and see.

Songs for a New World

The future is global, regardless of the whims of the BNP or Donald Trump, or Katie Hopkins (a woman who should genuinely be shot into outer space and left to shrivel up alone). And so, to celebrate this fact, I’ve decided to compile a list of songs I love in languages other than English.

This post may also be fueled by Boyfriend’s obsession with the first track.

Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
This is everyone’s favourite tune at the minute, and I have to say, it’s pretty catchy. Particularly without unnecessary Justin Bieber.

Aicha – Khaled Sahra
My mum used to listen to this when I was younger, and get me to translate the lyrics for her. I have no idea how I did.

Ai Se Eu Te Pego – Michel Teló
Catchy AF (here AF standing for “and forgettable” because I can never remember the name of it and then end up just searching for vowel sounds until I hit the right few)

Adiemus – Karl Jenkins
I’m not sure if this counts, because it isn’t actually in a language – it’s been designed to just sound calming but structured.

Ya Banat – Nancy Ajram
This was played to us in one of my Uni classes, and I don’t know how you can’t love this song, even if just for the video.

Que me quedes tu – Shakira
She had to make an entry on the list somewhere, right? Because she’s the queen of my entire life.

Bonustrack – La Oreja de Van Gogh
Spanish language songs were always likely to dominate this list, because I am biased towards my own language base, and there is something about this song which has always just made me smile.

Major Tom – Peter Schilling
I am historically not a fan of German, because it has too many genders and cases, and LOTS of syllables. But Deutschland 83 and its amazing soundtrack definitely won me over.

Volare – Domenico Modugno
It would be wrong not to recognise Eurovision as the home of all the best music, and Volare just feels like the right choice for peak Eurovision.

Metaphorically Speaking

Who doesn’t love a metaphor? Only unfun people who don’t enjoy language, that’s who.

Here is an example of a metaphor. I am a match. What do you mean, I hear you cry (my imaginary friend). Well, I am mostly beige, apart from my head which is bright red and also on fire.

I accept this isn’t a great metaphor.

It’s totally true though. The colour that my face goes when I exercise is a sight to behold. You can feel the heat radiating from my cheeks from 10cm away, and I go a violent shade of red. It is not a healthy colour. I look like I’ve been running from a maniac with a kitchen knife. I imagine.

The reason for the redness and heat is that I have enough energy almost every day lately to exercise. Which is phenomenal,  and hasn’t happened for the longest time (/or maybe since last summer, idk). So I am. Each day this week I have done a 10 minute strength circuit, a 10 minute circuit or either arms, legs, or abs, and then 10 minutes of cardio. And then a cooldown.

And I feel I should note that it is so irritating when workout videos don’t actually explain “child pose” or “upwards facing dog” just as you are in a yoga pose that forces you to stare at the floor. But I cam get over it.

Basically, summer y’all. It is great.

Oh the places you’ll go

If you don’t love Dr Seuss, you’d probably best leave now. Not that this post has anything to do with Dr Seuss, but it’s just we’ve got fundamental differences in world-view and you’ll probably hate me.

I looked down my list of categories while trying to think of something to blog about this evening, and realised how long it has been since I’ve used my Morocco category. Which isn’t really surprising, as social media chose to remind me the other day that it’s 5 years since I’ve been there. And 6 since I lived there, and started this blog.

I don’t exactly crave to go back, because holidays aren’t the same as living in a place, and going back is something I’m not very good at. I don’t exactly know what it is in my psyche, but something really blocks me from places that are in my past. I rarely talk to anyone from school, haven’t been back to Fes, and haven’t been back to Granada – despite the fact I absolutely loved them both, and they’d both make amazing holiday destinations.

Maybe part of it is knowing that there are so many places left to explore. Why visit somewhere you’ve already seen? Even on this tiny island, there are so many places I haven’t been to, and the wider world? It’s endless.

My bucket list of places to visit, right now, would probably be

  • Japan – a colleague of mine went to Japan earlier this year, and it just sounds fascinating and awesome. I loved all of the colours in the souks of Morocco, and I feel like walking around the cities in Japan would be similar.
  • China – my best friend lived in China for a year, and I think my ultimate dream would be to visit China with her
  • Northern Ireland – I visited Ireland for the first time this year, and it blew me away (as all of the British Isles always do). We didn’t go near Northern Ireland though, and again, I have a close friend who would be an excellent tour guide.
  • Iceland – It looks gorgeous.
  • Chile – we  recently discovered a replica of some Chilean protest art at work, and it’s just so fascinating. Despite studying Latin American studies to degree level, I have to confess I’ve never really been interested in visiting until now, but if I could, I’d go for Chile.
  • India – my parents met in India, so there’s a certain romance about it for me. Aside from that, it’s a pinnacle of colonialism, which I find completely incomprehensible and so naturally want to explore (possibly explaining colonialism if we’re honest).
  • Egypt – a few years ago, while I was in Morocco, I would have chosen to visit Syria. Then, while I was in Morocco, the Arab Spring began, and the destruction which has followed, payrolled by a range of faceless entities without the most basic aspects of humanity, shakes me to my absolute core. I am enthralled by the entire Arabic-speaking world, from the cultural melting-pot of the Maghrib through to the Gulf and the Levant, and there is so much I wish I could see. Egypt feels like a good start, but definitely not an end.

I’m sure one day I’ll make it round these places.

For now, my next holiday is planned for Newcastle. Or maybe Hull.

The First Day

I’m doing that thing I do again. Yesterday was the “first day of the rest of my life”. I’ve done minimal snacking, healthy lunches, and today I did a workout for the first time in ages (and so now I feel like I’m going to die, of course).

My initial love affair with faddy workouts should be well-known to regular readers (Hi Mum!*) which was my Moroccan obsession with Jillian Michaels and her 30-day shred. For newer readers, while I lived in Morocco there wasn’t an easy and cheap gym option, and so a group of us from Leeds banded together and formed some kind of insane exercise cult where we either all did Jillian Michaels’ workout alone in our rooms, or all got together and did it.

My relationship with Jillian has been on-again-off-again, with brief forays into other exciting territory such as when I tried to do ashtanga yoga in Spain (which is INSANE because that’s like trying to do a full cardio workout in a sauna, daily), or when I tried to do pilates here in Leeds with Boyfriend.

My new crush is Caroline Pearce, with her lovely soothing voice and her insane 10 minute workouts, which I’ve discovered are free on Amazon Video. I tried two 10 minute routines back-to-back, and though I felt like death immediately after, I can at least attest to the fact that I feel almost fine now, which says great things about my fitness level and recovery time (I hope).

I’m also attempting to only drink water and black coffee. Black coffee just when I want a hot drink, because I’m a complete milk fiend. Water at all other times, which is a challenge for me, because I just don’t like the taste. I know most people claim it has no taste, but you’re all wrong. It has a taste, and I don’t like it. I’ve got a slightly fancy (£3) infuser bottle which has done alright so far, but then it is only day two.

Which makes the title of this a little misleading a suppose.

You’re welcome.

*If you think this is a joke, you should know that it's really not. My Mum is definitely my most avid reader, except for maybe my Grandmother.

Vanilla Days

It’s moving into summer, days are long and everything is getting really vanilla. Not vanilla in the sense of exotic and full of tiny black specks, but in the sense of plain and safe and totally fine but not really thrilling.

Now, after the amount of things which have happened and are happening to people around the world, I’m keen to point out that I don’t need my life to be more thrilling. We feel stuck solidly in an era where the more plain and simple your life is, the better. But there’s no getting away from the internal buzzing that your mind makes when you’re a person who is driven by things-going-on in the absence of those things.

I am driven by things. What is the next step, where is the next aim, is this the next milestone and how do I reach it? Small things or big, I need them going on to function, or I descend into a world of shoulda-coulda-woulda whispers.

Those whispers found their way into my head recently, and made a little nest of possibility which began (accidentally) to feel like a real, tangible goal. I found myself making plans without waiting for step 1 to happen, and imagining all the magical world of things I felt like I was about to get involved in. I kidded myself outwardly into thinking I wasn’t getting dragged under by the whispers, but really I was.

And then the vanilla tide swept in this week, and I realised that the castle in the air was just a slightly funny-shaped cloud (as they often are) and back down to Earth I came with a mild thud, cushioned by all of the vanilla.

It’s not that I’m bored. People who get bored haven’t tried hard enough to be interested. It’s more that life is just happening near me right now, and I’m happening near it, and it feels like I can’t do much to alter it, mostly because would I want to? Why would I shake it up, force a change to something so perfectly inviting as nice, plain, satisfactory vanilla? People who do that are crazy. That’s the kind of thing Donald Trump would do.

So for the moment it’s living on for me, waiting for the thing to happen which turns my vanilla into raspberry ripple again for a little while.


Be the good

I usually don’t broadcast my political views (unless they are against Donald Trump, but I mean, who doesn’t these days). I have strong views, but I also know that in my personal context, sharing them extensively will not get me as far as trying to actively listen and be empathetic to other peoples’ points of view.

But staying quiet on the subject of the General Election which is coming up on June 8th isn’t something I want to do. I don’t want to disguise my feelings about the current political state of the UK and the world.

We are on the brink of insanity. Our weapons capability is increasing, our population is spiraling, the global economy is a game of chess waged by corporate giants, we’re dissolving into a digital universe we don’t entirely understand, and inflammatory politics is infecting every corner of our lives.

Through all that, we in this country are lucky to still have a system which allows us a voice. It’s not the best system, agreed, but it is something which millions of people around the world don’t have access to. And through our collective voice, we influence the national voice – and ours is still a powerful national voice (thanks colonialism!)

The question next Thursday is, what do we want our national voice to be saying? This isn’t a question of personalities, or individuals. This is about the message that we as a collective want to share with each other, and the world. The message will be strong, it will resonate, and it will carry influence. It is a voice we should all be proud to be a part of, and which everyone registered to vote should invest in being part of.

I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. But I do hope that everyone who reads this takes a second to remember that we’re powerful right now, and we choose the message. There are several parties who only support a message of hate, intolerance, and prejudice. Don’t vote for them. Be the good in the world. Think in terms of need and not want.

A quote used a lot in the last few weeks is “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. Our lives are brimming over with people who need help, and it’s something each of us can give. In a small way or a big one, on an individual level or as a collective, we can choose to help. Think of other people who are less fortunate than you.

If you don’t care about those people, you are selfish, and we’re ashamed of you.

On the 8th, do not vote for parties who support a world divided. We’re past that. Vote for a better message, and force our collective voice to be one which shouts at the top of it’s lungs:

“We are the good in the world”


I think I’m becoming homewares obsessed.

I have a bit of a thing with candles anyway. I’m most happy when I have a couple of big pillar candles lit, and maybe some incense burning. Add to that some nicely fluffed pillows, and a throw or two. Maybe some coffee-table books scattered around, some nice quality coasters, a cup of coffee and some nibbles in little bowls designed for nibbles.

The problem with this is twofold.

Firstly, you build up a picture in your head of how you like things to look, and that becomes a constant spiral of cleaning and tidying. I am never totally happy at home until I’ve erased all marks of Boyfriend from the space. He has a nasty habit of living in a room like it’s some kind of ‘living room’ and I hate it.

The second issue is that you just amass STUFF. Nacky little boxes which will be great to put something in (who knows what. Who even knows what’s in them at this point. Schroedingers’ interior design principal)

What I’m trying to say is I spent all day cleaning and my house is full of tat. I need a bigger house. Maybe less stuff. Or maybe I’ll just go sit in my book corner and survey my lovely kitchen-diner in all it’s cluttered glory.

Powerful Weapons

Words are powerful weapons.

One of the most powerful words in the world right now is ‘terrorism’, and we need to stop giving it so much power. Terrorism is the act of inciting the sentiment of terror within a person, or a group of people. That happened yesterday, sadly, in the city of Manchester, and it was perpetuated against a group of innocent bystanders. It was perpetuated against children.

Today, the media stormed in with questions about a ‘terrorist attack’ or an ‘act of terrorism’. But that’s not what it is. It’s a crime, committed by one or more violent criminals. And those criminals are getting what they want the second we call it terrorism. Because when you give it a name, you give it power and agency, and you allow the world to believe that the effect of the attack is that it terrifies you.

We are not terrified. Appalled, yes. Distraught, yes. But not terrified.

This is something which the western media has been perpetuating for years now, and it’s a mirage. It’s a narrative which continues to exist in order to protect the people who are spending money waging the “war on terror” as if war against a sentiment is a meaningful act. It’s a war we’ve already lost, every time we allow acts of barbaric violence to be termed “terror attacks”.

Don’t become part of the narrative. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the rhetoric of “extremists” (because many people are extreme, but they don’t always kill others), or “religious motivation” (because many people are religious, and see above). Don’t be fed a lie of the stereotypical terrorist, because that person doesn’t exist. Terrorists do not exist. Dangerous, damaged, often exploited people with an agenda to attempt to incite the feeling of terror do. Let them terrify you and they have achieved their aim.

And as an addendum, don’t let acts like this cloud your mind on national and international policy. The media are a tool of the powerful, and the powerful want to continue subsidising their empty war. Don’t be forced into the belief that the “war on terror” is necessary, or effective. There are many great threats in the world. The word ‘terror’ is not one of them.

This word is a powerful weapon. Do not be threatened by it.