Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How do you respond to hateful opinions?

From here
I really don't want my blog to become somewhere I complain but there are certain things that are less than cheery which I really would like your opinions on. What do you think of the following?

I was on the tube over the weekend and a man who I would guess to be in his 60s sat next to me. He was reading a mini newspaper - a newsletter if you will - of around 10 pages and from what I could see, it was written by what I can only hope is someone with extremist views. The quotations which caught my eye included "Multiculturalism has no place in Britain" and "Multiculturalism is a Liberal/Marxist idea which has failed".

Now, I don't know about you, but this shocked me so much. How could this man sit next to me (I identify myself as British but I am not English) in a carriage full of more people from different ethnic backgrounds, and actually believe those types of mantras? Was this his form of protest against everybody else in the carriage? What was he trying to achieve by reading something like that, let alone in public?

I toyed with the idea of confronting him, but didn't because I didn't know how he would respond. It was suggested to me later that he probably would have liked seeing me angry about it and it isn't possible to reason with such people. Whilst this is probably true, I can't help but think that this sort of attitude needs to be confronted. Should we be stunned into silence? Does this defy the Shouting Back principle I echoed recently?

Someone else suggested that it is through educating younger generations that we can wipe out xenophobic attitudes. I think that this will help but it makes me sad that there seems to be difficulty addressing people who already hold such views.

Living in a multicultural society is such a splendid thing. I have been brought up not caring one jot whether somebody is from a different country to the one I am from or live in, or of a different race. I have found it nothing but enriching to learn from one another, as you would to learn from anybody regardless of their background. That is by no means to say that our differences should not be recognised for the purpose of celebration.

All I mean is that, at the end of the day, we are all just people. My favourite lyrics come from a line in a Regina Spektor song - "People are just people like you" - and I always thought they were so true. The lines I noticed from the rubbish this narrow-minded man was reading were juxtaposed with more lyrics streaming through my headphones at the time - "underneath his skin there's a human" (Human by Daughter)- and I couldn't help but think "Really?" We are all the same underneath - we are just flesh and bones with a mind and soul, so is this man just a victim of brainwashing or is his flaw just more shocking than a flaw of another?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Liebster Award(s)

Recently, both Jessica from Never Have I Ever and Ang from Little Apple Tree very kindly nominated my blog for a Liebster Award. I am always flattered when anyone so much as follows my blog or leaves a thoughtful comment, let alone tells you they they like it through the medium of a shiny pink badge like the one above! The idea is that you link back to the blogger who nominated you, answer their questions, ask 11 more questions and then nominate a few bloggers yourself that have fewer than a few hundred followers. Actually, this might be an appropriate time for me to thank all of those who do read and follow this blog - you have increased in numbers recently and have become more vocal which is so lovely as I love to hear your thoughts on what I have to say.

So without further ado, here are my answers to the questions asked by both Jessica and Ang. I hope you enjoy reading them :)

From Jessica
1. Who are you and what part of the world are you from?
I'm Beeta and I live in London, although I am actually Iranian.

2. Who inspired you to start blogging?
I'm not sure who inspired me to start right at the beginning when this blog was born (probably just my emotions haha) but Bhavi from My Lush Box (who I am nominating below actually) taught me about the blogging world when I started blogging again in 2012.

3. If you could have anybody guest post...who would it be, and why?
Alexa Chung, because I admire her style and creativity.

4. Which country would you like to live in, other than your own?
The only other place I have visited that I have genuinely imagined myself being able to live in, is Edinburgh. I don't think I know anywhere well enough, or maybe even myself well enough, to know what sort of place I would like to live in long-term. 

5. If an Essie nail varnish were named after you, what would it be called?
I know nothing about Essie nail varnish other than the fact that they are quite nice colours so I honestly can't answer this one.

6.  What are you most proud of on your blog?
Probably that I have been able to use it to raise awareness about Deep Vein Thrombosis. If you haven't already read it, please have a look at this post I wrote about its symptoms as they could potentially be life-saving. 

7. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
A little weird.

8. What's your wardrobe staple?

9. Ron Weasley or Neville Longbottom?
They are both awesome characters, but I like how Neville was a character who I didn't really think too much of throughout the first few books but then you realise all the things JK mentions about him are completely relevant to the plot of the whole series.

10. What is your karaoke song?
Leave (Get Out) by Jo Jo!

11. Which type of cake could you live on for eternity?
CHEESECAKE. Oh my goodness.

1. Gold or silver?
I love both colours a lot. They're actually in my top 3, along with navy. I go through phases of which colour jewellery though. It's silver at the moment.

2. Tell me one of your pet peeves.
I don't know what it is about this that really stresses me out, but I can't stand it when people wear coats indoors. Am I the only one this bothers?!

3. Glass half-full or glass half-empty?
It completely depends on what I am thinking about. I try and see the positive things in most situations but if that is too hard then I need a bit of persuasion.

4. Countryside or city?
I am a city girl but increasingly tempted by the countryside for the peace and quiet.

5. Do you sing in the shower?
Anywhere I am alone, I will probably sing.

6. What are your ambitions for your blog?
I hope to have a scrapbook of my life and thoughts to look back on in years to come.

7. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Never watched Star Trek and only ever seen one Star Wars film but I was OBSESSED with it when I saw it aged 8 because I loved anything to do with space, and still do actually. I follow an astronaut called Karen Nyberg on Twitter and she posts the most incredible photos of the planet from space.

8. Who is your favourite actor?
Errrrrr, male - Ryan Gosling! female - Emma Stone/Zooey Deschanel.

9. How do you spend your free time?
Reading books and blogs, writing blog posts, taking photographs, on Twitter...

10. What is the most exciting thing you've ever done?
This is such an interesting question because I can't remember what I was most excited about in my life, yet I can remember all the things that have made upset. Why is that? I would imagine that going to university was a fairly exciting prospect which I didn't quite appreciate at the time out of fear. In recent years, the things I have been most excited about were Glastonbury Festival last year and inter-railing a few years ago.

11. What's the worst Christmas present you ever received?
I genuinely have no idea. Obviously something so terrible I blocked it from my memory.

I don't know how many followers everyone has but I nominate:
Sally at Sally Tangle 
Bhavi at My Lush Box
Roxy at Rootless Tree

My questions for you are as follows:

1. What is your favourite book?
2. What was the best conversation you had recently about?
3. Which famous person would you like to meet, why and what would you say to them?
4. What is your favourite thing about yourself?
5. What was your first gig?
6. What makes you embarrassed?
7. What is your greatest achievement?
8. Which country would you most like to visit?
9. What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
10. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
11. If you could be talented at anything, what would you choose?

No pressure to join in, but I look forward to reading your responses if you do.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Roundup

This week I have been:

Plotting: with M's friends to surprise him for his birthday! It has been so fun sneaking around being secretive and the result was just brilliant as he didn't suspect a thing! More about that in another post soon.

Listening to: Muse - The 2nd Law. What a fantastically underrated album.

Reading: about how to do advocacy without melting into a horrible mess


Drinking: flasks of tea. My Thermos keeps my tea hot hot hot from 6.45am all the way until 4pm and whilst I kind of understand how insulation works, I do still think "HOW?!" every time. 

Watching: Stacey Dooley's documentary about Cancun and the Great British Bake Off Final! I love Frances' creations so I was pleasantly surprised when she won. Her wedding cake was stunning compared to the others and the whole way through the series I was constantly impressed with how clever her ideas are. You can imagine how excited I was when she retweeted something I tweeted her as well!

Playing: chess with M because it's up there in our top 3 favourite pastimes. Oh and playing with the kitten of course (but that probably goes without saying).

What did you get up to this week?
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fitzrovia Belle

This week was Mike's birthday and I think it is fair to say that it was probably one of the least conventional. Hospitals aren't really a birthday treat, are they? Whoops. 

Anyhow, to make the day more cheery, we decided a naughty lunch would be most apt. Luckily, we didn't have to walk far before we stumbled across Fitzrovia Belle - a lovely looking pub (and hotel) on Tottenham Court Rd. We were sucked in the second we saw that they did hot dogs. Naughty lunch haunt found!

There is a normal menu but just LOOK at the BeerDogs menu below!!

Whichever hot dog you order, you can choose between beef, pork and vegetarian. We ordered pork hot dogs, Cajun chips (which set my mouth on fire) and an excellent bowl of onion rings.

M had a beer battered dog and I gobbled up those gherkins.

And then the Oklahoma Dog which was smothered in barbecue sauce and melted cheese. Deeee-licious.

(Told you the onion rings were excellent)

I would definitely recommend Fitzrovia Belle. The staff are helpful and friendly, and I saw couples, families, friends and business people there so it is an ideal place to meet anybody really. I mean hot dogs aren't the cleanest things to eat so if you're thinking of it as a first date venue then perhaps do a little disclaimer before the meal starts about inability to guarantee crumb-free hair/clothes. Definitely not speaking from experience... 
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet words

It was my birthday last month and I got the most wonderful selection of cards this year. I know I wrote about cards quite recently, but it turns out I'm a bigger fan of them than I originally realised. I thought I would share the two above because not only were the insides magical and tear-inducing, but I think we can see that the outsides are absolutely super!

The text on the first one (if you can't read it) reads "From little things big things grow". This was given to me by my older cousin who has watched me grow up and been a role model to me my whole life. She wrote such lovely words inside which made me feel incredibly lucky to have such wonderful family.

The second card is from a best friend of mine and I suppose is fairly self-explanatory!

Other things that you may have spotted above are the photos of Mike and I in Prague and my Mum and I at graduation - two of my favourite photos because they represent such good times. There's also a pile of books, including Alexa Chung's "IT" which I am reserving for a rainy day which I can wear a onesie, curl up under the duvet with extra blankets, a big mug of mint tea and not think about doing anything else. I have loved the little bits of it I have already read and I noticed that Christina and Charlotte both pretty much loved it so I am looking forward to reading this without distractions. Right now I feel like my mind can't dedicate all its attention on one thing, so I'll save Alexa Chung's little world for a day when it can.

Let me know what you're looking forward to doing on your next day off :)
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Roundup

*I feel like a kid in a toy-shop when I'm in a florists or walk by one. These flowers all look so perfect together.

This week I have been....

Listening to: Laura Marling's newest album. I find the songs all very similar but luckily I like them so my ears and soul appreciate it.

Reading: still on "Living Dolls" but my friend very kindly bought me a collection of short stories by Oscar Wilde so that'll be my next mission. I think books are such thoughtful gifts.

Impressed by: how powerfully and beautifully this girl speaks

Eating: milk bottles, Snickers ice cream and other things not made for cold weather but definitely fanciable.

Drinking: Mango and Cinammon tea and occasionally Camomile, because you need warming up after an ice-cream....obviously.

Learning: about myself and what matters to me, as well as corporation tax and company directors.

Intrigued by: fascinating and informative scans of my insides as shown and explained to me by my surgeon.

Getting my head around: diagnoses, plans for the future and my capabilities.

Have you learnt anything about yourself recently?
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

I have a question...

How can you tell which of the thoughts floating around in your head are organic thoughts and which ones you have planted there by thinking about thinking? Or is that the difference between feeling and thinking? 

Answers on a postcard, please.

*the photo above was taken on my walk to law school one morning, at a time I would usually still be dreaming when I don't have classes.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shouting Back

I keep struggling to concentrate. This morning, I have been trying to get into my law school work but can't stop thinking about an annoying incident that happened on my way back from the hospital today.

I was walking home, with my coat hood up and was just focussing on getting back. Not looking around at other people, just keeping myself to myself. A relatively young man who has never seen, or met, or spoken to me before, grunted "Smile - it can't be that bad", almost under his breath as if he was passing judgement, but definitely had the intention of me hearing it.

Now, I recognise that this is pretty much an everyday occurrence and indeed that wasn't the first time such a comment has been made to me, but that is precisely my problem with it - why is it anybody else's business? If my natural, neutral expression is a frown or just miserable, that is quite frankly tough luck for anybody who chooses to look at my face. I wasn't deep in thought when the comment was made, I wasn't thinking about anything other than the fact that I had just seen six magpies, I was just walking home, minding my own business.

What does it even matter what I was thinking or feeling? I didn't even look at the man who decided it was his place to tell me how my outward appearance was unsatisfactory. What does somebody who makes a comment like that seek to get out of it? Is it a deep-set feeling that they have to have power over everything they see? When walking down the street, girls should not have to worry about being harassed for their facial expression. I resent the expectation that seems to exist that women should look cheerful for the sake of men.

Aside from the fact that it is yet another form of hassle that girls are subjected to for literally no reason, I think it is just plain rude. This man, a complete stranger, has decided that in the two seconds that he glanced at me, that anything that I was potentially upset about was not worth it. He doesn't know anything about me! That just speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Whereas before I would have probably just ignored comments like that, this time I just told him to be quiet which I hope threw him off track a little. I doubt people who make comments like this to people on the street expect any retaliation but I think it is time that we started to shout back. It is for this reason, I am so grateful that the Everyday Sexism project exists. It has given me the confidence to stand up for myself, knowing that actually that that's the right thing to do and that I am not alone in finding this type of behaviour offensive.
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b & w

I - A horse who spent all day people-watching
II - An unsuspecting couple walk past the most beautiful wedding car
III - So handsome and blissfully unaware of the unfortunate haircut to follow
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Roundup

This week I have been...

Reading: Living Dolls (finally plucked up the courage to read it on the train as the cover is fairly embarrassing). Today I picked up Tina Fey's "Bossypants" in the British Heart Foundation shop so I am looking forward to reading that too. I really struggle to leave a charity shop without buying a book. Where's your favourite charity shop?

Buying: comfortable clothes. Uni Qlo is so underrated - if you have one near you, I URGE you to go and get yourself some warm, comfy leggings. They're like a constant hug to my legs :) As one of my legs is bigger than the other, as a result of DVT, wearing trousers is pretty much a no-go for me any more which is annoying because I have the most wonderful pair of brand new Gap jeans sleeping in my wardrobe which I bought a few weeks before the leg decided to balloon. It's just a silly, little thing but that's why my new clothes have made me happy this weekend!

Eating: okra for the first time. My Mum was putting them in a stew so I had a little try of them and they're delicious! Like funny little baby courgette peppers. Also, today, I was meeting a BFF for lunch and as I met her at the station, I said "I think we probably both have the same place in mind" and off we wandered, without uttering a word about where we were going and ended up in Wagamama. It's part of the unspoken code.

Walking: on Wimbledon Common (as pictured above). Perfect afternoon. I love wearing trainers - I wish they matched with everything!

Listening to: Regina Spektor on my walks to uni.

Playing: tennis! Without running... pretty strange concept I know but it is working so far! I loved the fresh air and the feeling of picking up an old skill.

Have you tried anything new recently or starting doing something you used to love again?

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Thursday, October 10, 2013


These photos are from a couple of weekends ago when I went walking in Box Hill with my Mum and a friend of ours who had come to stay from America. The day had been a groggy, wet one, but by about 4pm the sunshine managed to poke its way through the clouds and cast a wonderful glow across the hills and town below. I find it so peaceful up there. It really makes you feel connected to the greenery and the depth of the sky, leaving behind jumbled up thoughts and stresses of everyday life. A real clear-your-head sort of place. We trekked down a track which led to some stepping stones which were fun to cross and then had the challenge of coming all the way back up which wasn't too enjoyable for my legs but certainly helped me sleep well that night! 

Where do you go for some alone time with your thoughts?
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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Cocktail Evening for Macmillan

One of Macmillan Cancer Support's biggest fundraising events is its Coffee Morning. The other week, my friend hosted her own version of a Coffee Morning. As the picture below may suggest, the coffee was replaced for cocktails and therefore, it couldn't be a morning affair. A cocktail evening it was! I spent the day helping to prepare ingredients and whipping up some baked goods before everyone else arrived.

Obviously, we had a green-theme. I had so much fun researching green drinks recipes and baking ideas on Pinterest. Does anyone else find organising to be amongst the best bits of throwing a party? The Macmillan fundraising pack that Cathy had requested was also full of good ideas and a few little things to get us started, such as balloons, a green patterned table cover and biscuit templates.

We got to work baking spiced biscuits, little cupcakes and enormous brownies. We had intended that the cupcakes have green butter icing on top, with a slice of kiwi (good old Pinterest idea) but ran out of icing sugar so instead used edible flowers and had a separate little fruit platter.

I was left in charge of decorating the biscuits above. Now, did you get that they are meant to be mugs? Too many people thought that they were handbags! What have handbags got to do with a coffee morning??!!

When the guests arrived, the table was treated with more baked goods and we started making cocktails, including mojitos and appletinis. We also all placed our bets to guess how many coffee beans we thought were in the 2D jar...I tried to work it out with a calculator but this is definitely not the way forward guys... how many do you think there are?

Don't you love these little drinks umbrellas? They remind me of childhood birthday parties more than cocktails, interestingly.

All in all, we had a lovely evening, decided that hosting parties is so much fun and managed to raise a whopping £114.39 for Macmillan. £25 pays for a Macmillan nurse for an hour, so with the money we raised, that's four nurses or four hours of help. Wonderful! Did any of you attend a Macmillan Coffee Morning?

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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sunday Roundup

Found on Pinterest. Originally here

This week, I have been...

Reading: "Living Dolls - The Return of Sexism" by Natasha Walker. I'm on Chapter 2 and the stuff it talks about riles me up already. I think I'll feel pretty angry by the end of the book but it is certainly eye-opening. I love that I have finally found people and writing that echo the thoughts I've been having for so many years but didn't realise were perfectly legitimate opinions which were only belittled by the disgrace of societal norms.

Watching: Modern Family and this wonderful interview with Caitlin Moran.

Listening to: Daughter (I think they have featured in most of my recent Sunday posts actually...I urge you to have a listen)

Cooking: homemade chickpea burgers

Drinking: peppermint tea by the MugTheSizeOfMyHead-ful.

Learning: how to calculate income tax and trading profit. I'm not going to lie - I entered my Tax class the other day with a 50-75% chance I was going to cry...(Maths?! Done by lawyers?! Whatttt?!) but the good news is that I didn't and I think I have almost got my head around it now! For some reason, I equate not being able to do these calculations with me being stupid; the last thing that made me feel that way was Chemistry lessons during AS Levels, when I actually would cry after most lessons because I just didn't get it. I wonder whether that's the doing of the pressure experienced at a grammar school. 

Wishing: I felt in control of things. Much like how I'd imagine the lady in the picture above feels. I love how strong she looks.

What are you wishing for these days?
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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Chatting to my local MP about No More Page 3

Usually the most exciting thing that happens on my road is a sunset like the one above, or perhaps when there are two buses trying to go up and down the road at the same time. Oh and there was also that time when the bus driver got off the bus and banged on everyone's doors until he found the owner of the white van blocking the road. Real gripping stuff.

However, today I was pretty excited by a couple of conversations I had with people who knocked on my door. 

Let me set the scene: I was dressed in a onesie, wrapped up in blankets and a hot water bottle, making my way through a box of tissues whilst slurping soup and grappling with income tax and trading profit calculations, when there was a knock at the door. 

The lady was from the Liberal Democrats and wanted a signature against the closing down of the A&E department of my local hospital. She was in luck because I think I have already signed this petition at least twice, given that I have used that A&E department numerous times over the last 18 months. I would probably go as far as saying it probably saved my life. (Love the NHS). Anyway, as it is something I am interested in for selfish and wider reasons, I had a little conversation with her about it and the current plans and what the pros/cons are of the plans surrounding its proposed closure. 

Then, I was asked about my political leanings which made me feel slightly uncomfortable for a moment because I think the Lib Dems annoyed a lot of people my age following the last general election. Having said that, they have been in charge of my constituency for the last twenty years, so that's nearly my entire life-time, and I actually quite like our local MP and the way my area has been run since I have been living here. But I took the opportunity anyway to ask the lady what the Lib Dems are doing for women and by way of promoting gender equality. More specifically, I asked about their stance on the No More Page 3 campaign and was pleased to hear that they are supporting it. As luck would have it, as the lady was telling me she would pop some more information for me in the post about women's rights, the local MP himself walked up to my house so I had the opportunity to put my questions to the man himself! I would like to remind you once again at this point that I was wearing a onesie...

So I explained that I wasn't going to shake his hand purely because I didn't want to pass on my cold lurgy and was actually very interested to hear what he had been doing to support gender equality. I was thrilled to hear that he has already signed the No More Page 3 petition and has been contacting newsagents to see if they are willing to work alongside him to restrict access to The Sun newspaper, as well as lads mags.  I asked him whether he thought political pressure was enough or if it is something that could ever be legislated for. He responded with a message of hope that the social movement would be enough to change opinion and that it was a question of finding the right regulatory instruments to help. He also hinted that eventually convincing The Sun's readership that No More Page 3 is the way forward so that The Sun would have to reflect what its readers like. He asked if I was involved in the campaign and I told him about how I had been following it on Twitter and had been inspired by the talk I attended run by UK Feminista at Glastonbury Festival this year, which included Lucy Anne Holmes (founder of the NMP3 campaign) as part of the panel. He agreed with me that giving women a sense of empowerment was really important. It gave me a real buzz to hear that my local MP was in tune with issues that I am passionate about and I'm really pleased I had the opportunity to chat to him about what he thinks can be done to further the campaign's success.

I think this basically highlighted to me the importance of interaction to everyday politics. Of course politics is about engagement, but how engaged are people of our age? I'm not convinced that all of my peers exercise their right to vote. If MPs made a conscious effort to get around to every single door, school and university, to have a proper chat with people about what they really care about, it would do a lot for their reputation as well as boost turnout rates, I'm sure. Oh and it turns out he was brave enough to challenge his immune system with a handshake from me in the end. Lovely stuff.
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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Taking Stock #1

I came across this little tool for reflection the other day and think it is perfect for the start of each month. I enjoy documenting the good little things in my life, but also appreciate the need to take notice of how I'm really feeling. I don't let a lot of negativity into this space as I try to make it a positive place but perhaps a bit of honesty with myself at least will be useful to me in the long run. For my birthday, I received a five year Q&A diary and I have loved doing that each evening too, but more on that in another post. For now, here's me taking stock at the beginning of October. Feel free to join in too.

Making : new friends at law school
Cooking : a minimal amount
Drinking : green tea
Reading: with more enthusiasm and haste than I used to
Wanting: order to be restored
Looking: around me for help
Playing: with the kitten of course!
Wasting: hopefully nothing
Fixing: my previous lack of structure 
Deciding: to think about me a little more
Wishing: I could make it all better
Enjoying: the start of law school and the routine it has given me
Waiting: for news, never good
Liking: the direction my blog is taking
Wondering: what I will make of myself now in 10 years time
Loving: using a hot water bottle again 
Pondering: life's surprises
Considering: what holds me back
Watching: The Great British Bake Off and Modern Family
Hoping: for brighter days ahead

Marvelling: at how beautiful and calming the outdoors is, yet going for a walk when I was younger never appealed to me
Needing: to get rid of the unsettled feeling I have 
Smelling: birthday cake baking
Wearing: comfy clothes, because they are the way forward and make me feel more me
Following: the No More Page 3 campaign because I love them
Noticing: cracks
Knowing: more legal jargon
Thinking: too much and not positively enough. Bring me sunshineeee
Feeling: exhausted
Admiring: how talented my sisters are 
Buying: not a lot other than train tickets
Getting: used to routine
Bookmarking: clever baking ideas because I find it therapeutic but rarely  make time for it
Opening: my mind (cringe)
Giggling: not often enough but always at Modern Family

Noticed this here, originating here.
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