study french w/me! (étudier le français avec moi)

Hi everyone! I’m coming to you on a rainy Saturday evening. Even though I have mock exams on Monday, and so I’ve been trying to study for most of today (it’s still only been less than four hours in total, I’d say) I wanted to take an hour out for French. I’m currently learning French in school, but the slow pace at which we progress really frustrates me, so I try to do some extra learning as often as I can. During holidays, this means every day, but at peak exam times like now I’m happy if I can get it in at least once a week.

So I sat down after four p.m. today, and took an hour for French. In this post I’ll be sharing what I did, plus some tips on how I try to advance my French.


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I started today’s French study with Duolingo Stories. Stories are a feature of Duolingo that I only started using recently – I’ve seen them on the blue bar at the top of the screen, but I guess I just never really thought to utilize them? Anyway, I started using them at the end of December, and today I was working on the last story in Set One.

I have to admit, Stories is a very hit-or-miss thing. You either find a story that’s actually interesting, or else it’s just another vocab lesson with audio. Unfortunately today’s story was the latter case – a dull story about a woman nervous in her job, meeting her ex’s friend, and starting a “new chapter” in her life.

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What I like about stories, though, good or bad, is that I’m learning so much new vocab. And also many, many colloquial phrases. But they’re nearly all a rearrangement of the words cebienest… and a few others I can’t think of right now. Either way, Stories has been a great way to practise them.

So I completed the story, which meant I had also finished Set One. Because this was a part one of two, I decided to just finish it out and started Set Two:

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(it says 17:23 because I just took the screenshot)

The most important thing I do after throughout Story is write down the new words and phrases I learn. I also do not write translations, (1) because it’s quite time-consuming and (2) when I’m looking back over the words, the act of looking it up is going to make me remember it more. It does get a little tiresome, but it pays in the end.

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[If you’re interested in seeing a full tour of my advance-French copy, please let me know! There’s currently not a lot in it, but maybe in a month or two?]

Anyway, after finishing the two stories, I moved back to regular Duolingo and did a lesson for “At Work.” I’m currently only on Level 11 of Duolingo, but I’m aiming to start making a habit of doing at least one lesson a week. By the way, if you’d like to friend me there, my username is @sophiaisiam!

 

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This was a nice lesson with some vocab like dossier (folder), personnel (staff) and directrice/directeur (manager/manageress).


And that was my French study! I know it’s not exactly the most fascinating, but as I’ve mentioned it’s exam season, so I need to now go and devote some time to maths theorems and history essays. Next week I’m hoping to have a little more inspiring content – I’m thinking maybe something fitness-oriented.

As always, let me know in the comments any thoughts or questions you may have. Oh, and if you can recommend any French blogs (ou si tu es un bloguer français(e), dîtes-moi) that would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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an honest talk for students

If you didn’t know by know, I’m a student. I’m currently ending the junior part of secondary school, and will be going into the senior part this September. And for a while, I’ve trying to figure out how to write something more targeted to females my own age, i.e. those still in school and not yet college (or life).

I was racking my brains for a while, trying to find something – minimalism in school? managing time? And then it hit me: I’ve struggled in school, I’ve had confusion about what to do with my life, I’ve had the late nights, the last-minute assignments, the breakdowns and tears. I know. And so here’s a real, honest talk about and for students in school.


I guess let’s start with the basics: grades.

Here’s a fun fact – I’m terrible at maths. I cannot get my head around solving problems, being logical, and generally having all the skills you need to be good at maths. My mind is more centered around words and music. Numbers baffle me. Having said that, though, I love being able to solve a problem (also when my algebraic equations work out, I’m basically high).

Coming from a half-Russian family, there is pressure to do well in the science and mathematical areas. Be a doctor, a mathematician, etc., etc. It’s caused me so much anger, frustration, and just overall negativity when I come home with less than an A (which is less than 86%). More often than not, I’ll fall into the C (or lower!) categories. Not only does this make me feel as though I’ve disappointed my parent, but also I question how smart I am. That’s the worst part – wondering exactly how stupid I could have been to get a C on the test that everyone else seems to have gotten an A.

Yet recently, I’ve started to get a little more okay with that. Not completely – never completely. But I’m starting to accept the fact that perhaps my brain is not wired to understand numbers, but rather letters and music notes.

I know how frustrating it can be in a position like this. But if you too are struggling with a subject (or more than one), please try to recognize your strengths. Yes, you may not be great at Spanish, but look at your artistic skills! OR what about your knowledge of code? Forget geography!

We as humans put too much pressure on ourselves to be good at everything; now I’m here to tell you: sis, it ain’t possible. We drag ourselves down, obsessing over every error. We need to lay off ourselves, take a step back and see the bigger picture. In my case, I know I’m not going to pursue a career in mathematics.

And it does sadden me. Because of my shoddy maths, I won’t be taking Physics in September (I’m fascinated by outer space, but to study astrophysics in college I need school physics). But I’m cheered by the thought that instead of being shoddy at something and following it out, I can pursue a career doing something I know I am good at. I know that this way I can better serve the world. You need to see this too. Stop beating yourself up over your history grades: instead, focus on what you’re good at.

I’m not saying that we should just all fail whatever we think we’re bad at. Far from it. Instead, keep trying. And damn it, I know it’s disheartening when you spent an hour learning the rules of indices, and yet you didn’t even get a B. You know what? Keep going. Maybe you’re not going to ever be the best at a certain subject/topic. But if you’re working your ass off, nobody can ever say you didn’t try.

[and you? what’s your worst subject? are trying to improve? have you given up? do you like it? do you care or not?]

Let’s stop for a moment though, and consider pressure.

We all have it, whether we realize it or not. Maybe you have an amazing older sibling who’s got a degree in aeronautical engineering. Or maybe you’re the eldest, and so you’re getting a huge burden to lead your siblings. Or maybe you’re an only child, and so there’s pressure to be the best above other people. Whatever it is, it’s hard.

I can’t say that I don’t like having a little pressure. Because yes, it does motivate me to keep studying, keep trying for the A, and set standards for my siblings below me (yes, I’m the eldest). But sometimes the pressure makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide under the covers, because it’s hard. I keep being told about brilliant children of my parents who are doing medicine, physics, engineering, or performing music, and sometimes it’s hard not to scream “I don’t care!” 

[what about you? what’s the biggest pressure being placed on you in relation to school?]

Pressure is such a mixed concept – the right amount, and you can reach the moon. But too much, and everything starts crumbling. I really want to say: to every student, please don’t stress. Yes, a little stress is good, but if you’re getting too pressurized, please unburden yourself. Talk to parents, friends or teachers – explain that expectations are getting out of hand, you have too much to do, you’re drowning in work… but don’t let it continue. That’s when problems will start to arise.

Having said that, though, I think school-goers of today have a bit of a problem when it comes to being motivated to do well. It’s either you’re on one of two extremes – diligent, focused, and trying for Yale, or else you’re open about the fact that you’re a lazy hooligan.

Too often, though, people are ready to admit they do nothing and hate school. I think this trend of anti-school teenagers has definitely risen with the popularity of people such as Emma Chamberlain, who dropped out of school because she hated it. I’m seeing a growing number of teenagers, especially girls, do this.

But we’re forgetting something: yes, while it is possible to create a life you love out of something that doesn’t require a degree, what about all of those children (and teenagers) who physically can’t go to school? Whether it’s they’re starting a family, working, or can’t afford school – we’re in a position of privilege here. You should at least try to use that to your own advantage, and develop your mind as much as possible.

I for one will be heading to college after school. Because yes, I am in this position of privilege too – there are schools available to me, I don’t have to marry, and so forth. I want to use my power to help others (cough, medicine, perhaps, cough).

[what are your thoughts on this? do you think college is an outdated concept? or do you think people are just being too lazy to work and develop their minds?]

Please don’t hurt yourself with overwork. Not getting into Yale will not be the end of the world. And if to your parents it is, please sit down with them and talk. You deserve to be able to pursue hobbies and interests outside of school. It’s okay to go out sometimes, or to read something other than a textbook. It’s okay to develop a project like a blog, YouTube channel, etc. Find something you love, and keep at it.

Most of all, find balance. You don’t have to go to Yale, but please try to push yourself to become something. At the same time, if you get into Yale, great!

Don’t drop out of school because it’s “hard.” If it’s just that you don’t like learning – start liking it! I’m not saying you should become a straight-A student, but at least see this from a point of view where you can understand people, places, and how the world works. There is no greater power than that.

Now we’re coming to the pinnacle of school: being social. How do you balance a social life with keeping on top of work?

Okay, let’s be real for a minute. I’m not exactly Miss Popular in school. I have very few close friends, and then I just rub along with everyone else. So I don’t exactly have trouble juggling schoolwork and a social life. I also lean more towards what people would call a hermit – I prefer staying at home than going out.

But like many people, I enjoy spending time with others. So how do I balance that?

My key is to prioritize. For example, I’m currently at mock-exams season, which means study. And so I will not be going out with friends until exams are over.

Prioritize things depending on the situation. For example, at exam season, it’s better to take a day off but spend it with yourself, organizing and resting, than getting drunk and staying up until early morning with friends. During holidays, you have a lot more free rein. Assess your current situation before prioritizing others. Do you honestly think a day out will benefit you more than a day of rest for yourself? In some cases yes, in others no. Learn to recognize your current state of wellbeing and what would be best to improve it.

[do you agree with this? or you just generally someone who prefers going out over staying, or vice versa?]


If you’ve read down this far, you deserve a medal. This was sitting in my mind for a while, and I really wanted to make an honest chit-chat type post for students.

If you’re a student… well, comment below! I’ve scattered a few questions throughout this post – I’d love to read your answers and see what your views, burdens, thoughts and current situations are. Thanks!

how to declutter + organize your computer [MINIMALISM]

In all the tidying-up books I’ve read, I don’t think I’ve actually seen a chapter dealing with decluttering your computer. Or tablet, laptop, etc. So here I am today, with tips on how you can get your computer in order – from documents to photos to programs, I have it all here.

Let’s get started!

Photos

Photos are very easy to accumulate on your computer. And to be honest, they’re hard to get rid of, given how sentimental they usually are.

My secret? Google Drive. Rather than have them take up valuable storage on my computer’s hard drive, all the sentimental photos I want to keep have been moved to my Google Drive, where I’ve organized them in neat folders. These are photos that hold special memories for me, or that I just really like. And yes, I actually do look at them. I also store photos I’ve taken for Instagram and Happiness Is Natural in certain folders on Google Drive. This way they don’t take up valuable storage on my computer.

However, this is not the solution for everyone. You need to first ask yourself if you’re ever going to look at photos you want to put into a cloud/online storage (e.g. Drive, Dropbox, etc).

If you’re particularly concerned about deleting any photos, you can always send them to people featured in the photos. But don’t get into a habit of this – only send the really important ones, as we’re trying to keep clutter to a minimum for everyone.

When it comes to organizing, you can either arrange your photos by date (e.g. 20 August 2015) or by category (e.g. 2014 Holiday, Dog, Kids Playing, Birthdays, etc). I recommend sorting by category, because it’s unlikely you’ll remember the exact date of an event. But if you do want to sort by date, I recommend dividing your files by month, e.g. July 2017.

If you’re sorting by category, try not to be too specific, but still make sure there’s some sort of precise system. For example, instead of “Polly’s 8th birthday” you could have “Polly’s birthdays” and stick in all the photos from Polly’s birthdays. Another thing would be if you have a certain category, make sub-files. For example, if you have a “Family Holidays” folder, you could add a folder within the folder called “Spain 2014.”

Tip with WordPress: If you use photos in your posts (headers/graphics/etc.) you can delete them from your computer once you’ve uploaded them to WordPress. They’ll stay within WordPress’s media storage, and won’t disappear from your posts unless you delete them from WordPress storage.

Downloads & Documents

A big storage-eater is your downloads folder. Scrutinize this area of your computer – often when you download something, you only need it temporarily. Go through and do a quick sweep of old files you only used for a short period of time.

You documents is a place where people often store files with large memory – class essays, school projects, stories, etc. If you have old school/work assignments in your documents – unless they’re current work, or you’ve been told that you actually need them – delete them.

Organization is key in these folders. Arrange everything by topic e.g. “School Projects” “Essays” “Book” (if you’re writing a book) “Management notes” “Business Ideas” etc. You can then create a few large folders and drop the other folders within them. These large folders should be very general – “School” “Work” “Home” “Current work” etc.

Videos

Again, unless they’re extremely important, delete them. The only video I have is a French film. I know that family/home videos are tricky, but really, how often do you make a family video night, where you just watch old home videos? Probably never.

If you want to go the extra mile, why not have all your home videos converted into one DVD? I remember my dad did this with his childhood home videos – by doing this it makes it so much easier to store them, and also view them in one sitting.

Ideally, you wouldn’t have too many videos on your computer – they take up a lot of memory that could be used for more important things. I would recommend purchasing a simple 2/4GB USB key to store videos if you have several. Otherwise, you can use the same filing system as with photos and documents.

Apps

Even if you have a PC, I’d say there are a few apps or programs you could get rid of. Evaluate your everyday computer work – is it for your blog, book, business, or just fun? If it’s for business/work, go ahead and uninstall all those computer games. Well, do it anyway, because they turn you into a mindless slug!

If it’s for your blog, check your photo editors. I’d say one would be just fine, or two if one has features the other doesn’t. If you use your computer just to browse social media, read articles and watch YouTube/Netflix, delete all those useless apps for money, analytics, etc. Why not try installing an app such as Deezer to listen to music?

If you have a Windows laptop/tablet like me, you can click here to learn how to uninstall default Windows apps such as Camera, Voice Recorder, Messenger, etc. I know how annoying it can be when you don’t need such programs but can’t remove them.

Let’s talk Drive

I mentioned earlier that I use Google Drive to store photos I don’t want to keep on my computer. Here’s a quick look into how I do this:

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These are just a few screenshots of my Drive. As you can see, I have about eight or so “general” folders that contain several smaller sub-folders within them. Within those folders might even be another folder, but usually just the photos. For me, Drive so far is working very well – I can store photos without taking up valuable space on my computer.

I won’t be going into detail now, but please let me know if you’d be interested in a post about organizing/managing Google Drive.


And I guess that concludes this post! If you have any questions about computer organization/management, please leave them in the comments. I’ll answer them all!

Much love ❤

P.S. I know< I know, I promised frequent posts, but it’s exam season yet again, so your girl is off to study -_-

minimalist wardrobe p.3 – shoes

You can never have too many shoes, right?

Wrong.

While clothes are frequently discussed in minimalist advice, shoes often are overlooked, or given a few sentences only.  But today I wanted to talk to you about shoes, so that you only have the amount you need. Consider this post a guide to declutter and curate collection.

As always, the preliminary step to any declutter is to gather all your shoes into one place, no matter what or where they are.

Step 1: select your favourites

While this may seem like an unusual step, for shoes I think it’s completely necessary. Select your favourite three, four or five (but no more than five) pairs of shoes. These will be the standard to which you hold all your other shoes, and will also come in useful when you have a “grey” item (your feelings aren’t very black or white about keeping or discarding). Set aside these favourites for now.

Step 2: evaluate the rest

Now comes the “joy check” for the rest of your shoes. Take each pair, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I truly love these shoes?
  • Do I wear them frequently?
  • Can I wear them, considering my lifestyle?
  • Are they of good quality?
    • Will they last me for some time?
  •  Are they comfortable to wear?
  • Do I enjoy wearing them?
  • Do they match my clothes?
  • Are they really my style?
  • Am I keeping them “just because?”
    • e.g. they were expensive, on sale, a gift, they might fit some day

Out of the above questions, I would advise you to answer “yes” to at least six of the above questions before you even consider keeping them. And obviously they need to fit you and feel comfortable to wear – one thing I’ve found is that if a pair of shoes isn’t comfortable, I will never wear them.

Step 3: evaluate what you evaluated

By this point you’ve probably decided to get rid of a few pairs of shoes. But now it’s time to re-evaluate what you want to keep. Your criteria is that you are only keeping your favourite, most comfortable, nicest-looking shoes that also match your clothes.

When it comes to decluttering using the KonMari method, we don’t declutter on a basis of what we want to get rid of, but rather what we want to keep.  You should be aiming to select belongings that you truly love and that add value to your life. When it comes to shoes, I would only keep those that you need, and those that you think are gorgeous.

Step 4: start a capsule wardrobe

If you can’t face getting rid of some of your shoes, why not start a capsule wardrobe? I do this – rotating my clothes in accordance with the seasons, and this includes my shoes.

If it’s midwinter, why on earth do you have your sandals lying around gathering dust? Box up the footwear that is off-season, and take it out when the weather changes. It’s easier for organization, and also easier on your mind when you’re in a rush trying to find your hiking boots amidst ten pairs of heels.


My own shoes

I confess: while I have thoroughly decluttered other things in my life, shoes were something that I never managed to do properly. While I got rid of some unnecessary pairs, it just never felt like I needed all that I had. However, while writing this post, I got inspired, and so I know have:

  • 1 pair of trainers
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 2 pairs of pumps
  • 1 pair of hiking boots
  • 2 pairs of black casual shoes
  • 1 pair of Converse
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of football boots

I keep my sandals, pumps, football boots and Converse at the top of my closet as it’s currently not the season for me to be wearing them.

Bonus tip

While decluttering your shoes, make sure to clean them. I simply banged mine together or on the floor and vacuumed up the dirt.

If there’s noticeable dirt on the top of your shoes, use a dry cloth/dry old toothbrush to brush off mud and dirt, then wipe properly with a damp cloth. The best advice I ever heard was to use toothpaste on your white trainers/white parts of your trainers. A damp cloth; dab a little toothpaste on it, and rub on your shoe. It works wonders!


I know this was a bit of a shorter post than usual, but there isn’t that much advice I can give you on the topic of shoes. Make sure to keep an eye out for my next post – I’ll be sharing an updated post about decluttering your digital space.

Thanks for reading!

2019 goals

Yes, I’m going to be that annoying person and share the things I want to accomplish in the new year. You’re welcome 🙂 But seriously, I do hope this post will inspire you to set some objectives.

And if it does, my biggest tip? Be specific. Don’t set goals like “use social media less” – instead, try “use social media for only 15 minutes a day.” If you make your goals general, they’ll never be accomplished.

So, here are mine.

Health

Eat bread on weekends only – bread is the killer for how well my skin looks, so I want to show my skin some kindness in 2019 by reducing my carb consumption. I eat too much bread anyway, so this will also be good for my overall digestion and wellness.

Stick to a fitness routine – I wake up before 6.30 on regular school mornings to work out, but once holidays hit, I slack off completely. My aim this year is to only miss two weeks’ worth of workouts (my routine is abs one day, legs + butt the next, with Wednesday as my rest day).

Do a yoga flow/practice at least twice a week – I stopped doing intense stretching when I started getting a hip pain, but I would like to get into regular yoga for flexibility and peace of mind. I’m not having any set days, but I do want to make it a regular practice.

Mind

Read a book a week – Since I started secondary school I’ve slacked off reading completely, but I’m making it my mission to get back into reading. I’ll be perusing at least one book a week in 2019, and not just chick-flicks – I want to read deep books to help improve my mind and body. I’ll be sharing reading lists as the year goes on, so make sure to follow along!

Meditate once a week – meditation is one of those things that once I do it, I can’t believe why I wasn’t before. Earlier this year I got into a consistent routine, but then I slacked and haven’t meditated in weeks (if not months). A weekly meditation is something that I know will do wonders for relaxation and restoration.

No devices after 20:45 – I definitely notice a decrease in the quality of my sleep when I use screens late at night. In 2018 I aimed to have no devices after 20:30, but was a bit lazy about it, so in 2019 I’ll be going hard or going home.

Blog

Reach 400 followers – A little ambitious, but again, go big or go home. I didn’t think I’d be reaching over 200 followers by now, but there you go! It shows what I can do when I put my mind to it. You can help me accomplish this by clicking that subscribe button at the top of the sidebar! (thanks 🙂 )

Post at least once a week – Consistent posting is something I’m determined to make a habit in the new year. You can expect a decent amount of writing in 2019 – again, follow so you don’t miss out!

Collaborate with three other bloggers – I’ve discovered so many amazing blogs since I started blogging, and many of them have similar views and practices as me. There are a few awesome women I know of, and I would love to have their writing here on Happiness Is Natural. Also: if you’re a blogger who writes about similar topics as I do, please hit me up! I’d love to collaborate. My contact details are here.

Collaborate with at least three companies – In 2018 I had the amazing opportunity to feature Brush Naked AND The Witches Moon here on Happiness Is Natural. These two companies were wonderful to work with, and their brands were completely in alignment with my views. In 2019 I would love to either partner with them again, or find some new businesses to showcase. Again, if you or somebody you know would like to have their product/business featured on Happiness Is Natural, click here for details about working with me.

Challenges

I saw in Immy’s video that she was setting herself some challenges in cetain months, and this inspired me to do the same! Here are my 2019 challenges.

Go for a month without social media – I only use Instagram as social media, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I’m intending to do this one around the time of my exams, so in May or June, as I’ll need all the free time I can get to study and keep my mind together!

Go for a week without internet – I really enjoyed my 20 days without internet, and will definitely be taking a (shorter) challenge again. I’m thinking maybe during May, as again, this will be the time when I need to study for my June exams.

Go for a week without sugar – I have such a love/hate relationship with sugar, and so I want to hopefully improve this by taking some time off. My ideal time for this will be around Easter – although there’ll be a lot of chocolate temptations, I know my body will thank me for it.

Languages

Improve my spoken French – I absolutely adore the French language and would really like to step up my game with the spoken language – my written isn’t too shoddy, but my French pen-pal is also coming over in August, and so I want to be able to hold a decent conversation with her.

Write a blog post in French – I know, I keep saying this, but I’m determined to do so this year. Do let me know what type of French post you’d be interested in seeing e.g. how I learned French, a post about minimalism, etc. But in French!

Learn proficient Spanish – I need to take Spanish as an extra subject for my final school exams in 2021 (gosh, that seems so near and also so far), and so I have just under two and a half years to become near-fluent. I’m confident that I can do it, but it will take dedication on my part. Let’s see how well I can do in 2019, and hopefully there won’t be as much to do in 2020 and beyond!

Also, if anyone has any websites, YouTube channels or books they would recommend for learning Spanish, please let me know in the comments! Or if you yourself have a Spanish learning website or service, let me know too. Thanks!

So, those were my goals and challenges for 2019. In the comments, let me know if we have any goals in common! Or just in general, what are your aims/projects/goals/challenges for 2019? I’d love some inspiration and motivation – don’t be shy to let me know!

P.S. I know you’ve gotten three or four posts this week, but I promise that when 2019 hits, you’ll just get a weekly post on a Saturday from me. So see you next Saturday – January 5th! ❤

3 things you NEED to do before 2019

Ah, the end of another year. I feel like I say this every year, but can you believe that twelve months have actually gone by? So much has happened in 2018 and yet it feels like such a short space of time.

In today’s post, I want to share some practical tips with you on how you can prepare to enter the new year, ready to kick ass. Feel prepared both spiritually, mentally, and of course, physically. Ready?

1: Declutter

Oh, what a surprise! A minimalist put this at the top of the list!

Seriously though, no matter how organized or minimalist you are, it’s the end of a year. You need to take a quick inventory of your belongings – chances are that a few things have piled up without your knowing; belongings are not in their rightful place, and there’s definitely some trash that could be discarded.

As with the KonMari method, go through each category of your belongings – clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items and finally sentimental items. I challenge you to get rid of at least one thing from each category – you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to discard just a single item, and so hopefully this will begin a chain reaction for you to get rid of other useless items.

I do urge you to let go of as much as you can. You’re heading into a new year full of possibilities, opportunity, and surprising gifts. You do not need anything to hold you back. Especially not that horrible Christmas jumper from Aunt Maude (if you want to know how to get rid of gifts, I would recommend reading any one of my posts about minimalism).

After decluttering, take the opportunity to reevaluate your storage and organization system. Get rid of any extra storage, such as boxes under your bed, and simply use what’s available – shelves, drawers, cupboards, etc. Extra storage is completely unnecessary. If your belongings require more storage, it’s definitely a sign you need more items!

Once both your belongings and storage are decluttered, find a “home” for each of your possessions. If your things do not have a place where they belong, you will never be able to find anything, and will also never have a fully tidy space. When you finish using something, this is where you will put it.

I also recommend you undertake a digital declutter. I have some tips here, but keep an eye out in the coming week or two for a more updated digital decluttering post!

If you need some tips on how to declutter different aspects of your life, check out my minimalism posts here.

2: Cleanse

After you’ve finished decluttering and cleaning, it’s time to cleanse – yourself, your mind, and your space. Start by cleaning your space. Dust, vacuum, and throw open the windows to air out the place (if you can). Any time I clean my own living space, I always make sure to light some sage and say a few words to get rid of old energies and allow for new light:

As I cleanse this space of its physical dirt, may I also cleanse it of its spiritual dirt. I cleanse away now all the negativity and bad energies from this past [week/month/year] in order to allow for new positivity. May there be space for good energies and opportunities in this coming [week/month/year], as well as love and light. {Berkana}

If like me, you veer towards paganism, after burning sage you can also light some incense to offer to your deity/deities. Plus, it will also make your home smell amazing! Alternatively, if you don’t like incense, diffuse some essential oils. I personally don’t have a diffuser, so I stick with incense.

When you’ve finished cleansing your space, it’s time to cleanse your body. Hop into the shower/bath, and make sure to use scrubs, masks, conditioners… anything and everything you have to clean and purify your body after this long year. It’s also a good practice to visualize the water cleansing your aura/spiritual energy as well.

Finally, your mind. Take some time to sit quietly and meditate, or do a very gentle yoga flow (nothing intense like a workout). There are many guided meditations on YouTube for abundance, positivity, etc. – my favourite is this one.

3: Plan

Failing to plan is planning to fail. I highly recommend investing in a decent planner for the year ahead – I myself purchased this one. 2019 will be my first year using a planner, but I’ve found that to not have one means my head is all over the place and I can’t keep track of anything. You can also use a planner such as Google Calendar if you prefer digital.

So, now is the time to plan everything as much as you can. Here are my biggest tips:

  • Take a look at the year ahead and mark in events you know are definitely happening – for example, birthdays, family weddings, holidays abroad, etc.
  • See what to-dos/related tasks you can also mark in that are related to the above events. For example, if there’s a wedding ahead, you may need to purchase a gift, and so in turn ask the bride for a list of options. Or maybe you need to book transport and accommodation, depending where the event is.
  • Set aside two pages for “tasks of the year.” One page should be dedicated to tasks that have certain deadlines, but that are relatively broad e.g. pay car tax before April. The other page is for tasks that need to be done this year, but that have no set deadline e.g. paint the kitchen. However, I do recommend trying to give a deadline to these tasks, as without one, you’ll probably end up just dragging them through the year and into 2020. Deadlines will spur you into actually taking initiative to get these tasks done.
  • If perchance you have tasks from 2018 that aren’t completed by 2019, make a “priority” page in your planner and… well, make these tasks a priority!
  • Speak of 2018 tasks, now is the time to get those small, annoying errands and to-dos done and dusted before the start of 2019. Call those family members, send those last emails, catch up on letters, pay your bills, and buy the bin bags. Your aim is to walk into 2019 with a clean slate, ready to take it on.

These are my three most important things to do before 2019. Of course, there is so much more, but all of this can depend on who you are and what your lifestyle is like. Maybe you want to set goals, or start new projects. By all means do so! I hope you can let go of 2018, and accomplish everything in the new year. I wish you all the best in your endeavors for 2019.

Otto Regular

why i disappeared in 2018 | 2019 plans

Long time no see.

It’s the end of December, and 2018 is coming to an end. It’s been an amazing year for me, but admittedly I’ve been posting quite sporadically.

I have state exams in June. While they’re not “the big ones,” I do want to do well in them, and so in between study, violin, and trying to exercise and eat well, life’s been hectic. Even in those moments where I do get time to myself, I end up tidying, catching up on things, or watching Netflix because life is tiring sometimes. In the end, blogging was put to the side while I tried to get my life in control.

Earlier in the year, I had zero motivation for blogging. I wasn’t in the best of places, feeling demotivated, unsure what to do with my life, and overall in a negative headspace. There honestly is so much you don’t see behind my writing – although I aim to share positive content, what’s going on with me could be a bit of a different story. Overall, my spirit was restless, and I definitely was not grounded enough to churn out regular advice, stories, and content.

And because I was floating around, unsure what to do with myself, every time I sat down to write a blog post, it didn’t feel right. The words wouldn’t flow, and overall it felt forced and not something I wanted to share. As I write I have several unfinished post drafts that I’ll probably delete – some of these are posts that I was going to publish, but decided not to; others are a paragraph of text I started but never completed.

Nobody is feeling worse about this than me. My mission is to help as many females as possible break away from the constraints of society, and become free. But I haven’t been doing that.

But now: I’ve finally found purpose in life; I’ve finally centered myself, developed better habits, developed routines and grounding practices. I’m definitely in a more positive mindset. When I think about my mentality at the beginning of 2018 compared to now, I can recognize a huge difference. I’m in a good place right now, and I intend to keep it that way.

Onward and upward

So now you know why I pretty much disappeared from here. But what’s coming in 2019?

One big thing I’m intending to focus on here at Happiness is Natural in 2019 is sustainability. I’ve become more aware of the problems with plastic and pollution in our world, and I want to share all I’ve learned that we can do to make the world just a bit cleaner and greener – through what you consume, daily habits, things you buy… I’ll be sharing with you also what I do every day to reduce my carbon footprint and be green.

I also want to continue the series I started:

  • Minimalist Travels: In October/November I stayed in Barcelona with my family for a week. I want to share some of my experiences, photos, and of course, how I travelled as a minimalist.
  • Minimalist Wardrobe: It’s been several months since I shared my wardrobe, and in that time, I’ve gotten rid of a lot, but also purchased some new staples in my closet. I’ll be sharing these in my winter 2018/2019 capsule wardrobe, which (judging by the Irish weather) I’ll be keeping in place until at least February.

Check out these posts from the above series {click each to open in new tab}:

There are also some more spiritual, personal posts I’ll be sharing. These will be how I managed to pull myself up out of the hole I fell into at the start of the year, and how I’m moving on in life. Through a combination of new experiences, nature, spirituality, and grounding practices, I am happy to say I am in a place I want more people to be in.

Before all this, though, I’ll be making one post before December is up: how to get yourself together for the new year. I’ll be talking physical, mental and spiritual preparation.

So buckle your seatbelts: 2018 is ending, and I could not be more ready for 2019. Let’s do this.