The Expat Diaries: Don’t Forget to be a Tourist.

The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.Oh, darlings! The past two week have been a whirlwind. They were exciting and overwhelming, joyous and tiring. I’m feeling equal parts euphoric and burnt out!

My mom left this morning and I’m already missing having my parents here. But there’s also part of me that’s ready to settle back into normal life and have a breather.

Having them in London was such a great reminder of what this city is like when you’re seeing it for the first time. Of all the things that make it wonderful and different. Narrow cobblestone streets. Vibrant red phone boxes. Everyone chattering away in charming accents. The bobbies with their rounded hats. A quaint pub on every corner. Big Ben and The London Eye looming in the distance.

For a North American, these are all things out of the movies and London looks like a storybook.

The wedding was the main event, of course, but in between we’ve been whizzing around so that we could see my favourite haunts and take in the sites.

There was lots of wandering around central London, poking into shops and sipping pints in pubs. Walks along the Southbank to check out the iconic vistas. Trips to Hamleys and Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason. Cultural days at the V&A, The British Museum, & the Tate Modern. And, of course, a Sunday roast and a cheeky pub quiz, to really live it up like the locals.

Perhaps my favourite was yesterday. We made the trek to southwest London and spent the day wandering the paths of Kew Gardens, stopping to smell many a rose, tour around a palace, and marvel at tropical plants. It was one of the places that had been on my to-do list for ages and having visitors was the perfect excuse to put in the effort to get down there.

The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.Once you’ve settled into your new country, it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day. The things that once seemed marvellous and inspiring become commonplace.

Touring around with my parents gave me fresh eyes for London and a renewed interest in discovering more of her, both the hidden gems and the obvious attractions.

You don’t have to be an expat to be a tourist in your own town. Challenge yourself to have more adventures, wherever you’re living!

What’s THE thing that people think of when they hear the name of your city? What’s a big attraction you’ve never done? No matter how cheesy it is, give it a go. Even if it’s kind of lame, you’ll have fun if you bring some friends along. You can take a silly photo and tick it off the list.

Make a ritual out of it. Every month have a mini “staycation” and seek out something new to do. Make time for those things you’re always meaning to see and experience but never get around to.

There’s a balance, I suppose, between keeping FOMO at bay by allowing yourself to just live and making the effort to get out there and do stuff.

As much as I had my zest for London renewed, visiting my parents also showed me how much I love my everyday, mundane life here. Because I was so excited to show it to them. And I’m so happy to be easing back into it.

It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things, but there’s pleasure in routines as well. Try to make time for both. That’s the balancing act I’m working at.

The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.The Expat Diaries: Don't Forget to be a Tourist.Did you notice my eyeball ring in the first pictures? It was a gift from the lovely Cristina. She wrote to me about her shop, Now or Never, and let me pick out one of her beautiful gems. I decided to go for something a bit ghoulier than my usual crystal bling and it was so much fun to style on my adventures these past few weeks. I’m so inspired by people who are out there chasing their own dreams by starting new businesses – she’s quit her job in graphic design to design jewellery! Cristina’s designs are a celebration of the weird and the whimsical, the feminine and bizarre. Her collections are diverse and if you’re looking for a little treat, I bet you’ll find something you love.

It’s so good to be writing to you again! I’ve come back with a new name, both legally and online.  You can now find me on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram as @sarahstarrs_ (I hope I can drop that pesky underscore one day, but for now, it will have to do). This is foreshadowing a big change around here: next month this site will be transitioning to sarahstarrs.com as I get ready to launch some new services and products, and create some really cool new things for you.

All of the content will be moving with me but I wanted to give you a heads up. If you’re subscribed by RSS I’ll let you know if there’s anything you need to do to keep getting my blog posts but I’m hoping it will be seamless and you won’t have to do a thing.

What could you do to be a tourist in your town this month? What are the best things to do in your city?

Love & pixie dust,
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Life’s a Holiday When You Love Yourself.

carolineI met Caroline through our mutual friend Xandra when I took the photos for their podcast, Fabulositea. We instantly hit it off and became fast friends. Caz’s love of Old Hollywood, sunshine, and sparkle infuses everything she does. I really admire her dedication to fun and her ability to make every day feel like a holiday. Keep an eye out for her new project, The Girl With the Sunshine Tattoo, launching in just over a week. She’ll be sharing all about her adventures in London and how to add a little extra sunshine to your life.

Are you a fan of the TV show ‘Parks and Rec?’ (If not, you certainly should be! Chris Pratt, Amy Poehler and a tiny horse called Lil’ Sebastian… what’s not to love?) If so, you’ll probably remember one of my favourite episodes: once a year, two of the characters celebrate ‘Treat Yoself’ Day. They spend 24 hours treating themselves to “clothes! Fragrances! Massages! Mimosas! Fine leather goods!” It’s “the best day of the year!”

I believe that the “Treat Yoself” philosophy is one we can all use a little bit more of in our lives – and not just for one day. There are literally hundreds of voices every day telling us that we’re not good enough; that we haven’tearned a treat. That we’re not thin enough to eat that mouth-watering chocolate cake, not beautiful enough to buy – and pull off – a bright red lipstick, not hard-working enough to spend an afternoon lazing in the sunshine.

I say, to heck with it! Yes, I agree with Louis C.K: “Self-love is a good thing but self-awareness is more important. You need to once in a while go ‘Uh, I’m kind of an asshole.’” We’re all flawed, fallible creatures who frequently screw up, for sure. But I also believe that life is way too short to waste precious time on self-deprivation or punishment.

For me, self-love means light-heartedness. It means moving on from mistakes and refusing to feel guilty about indulging in frivolity, fun, and things that make you feel good: whether that’s as simple as a post-work glass of prosecco with a friend, or as spontaneous as a last-minute flight somewhere sunny for the weekend. It means taking a break from taking life, its demands and yourself too seriously. It means acknowledging the occasional cloudy day, but whole-heartedly embracing the sunshine when it comes.

As always, Frank Sinatra said it best, when he gently reprimanded George Michael for complaining about howhard life as a pop megastar could be: “Come on, George. Loosen up. Swing, man. Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice.” Let’s drink to that, darlings!

And here are a few ways to add some extra sunshine to your everyday:

  • Affirmations are wonderful, but lots of people feel a bit silly locking eyes with themselves in the mirror and chanting ego-boosting mantras! Instead, pick an upbeat song with some super-confident lyrics and sing along at the top of your lungs – self-love without self-consciousness! My pick at the moment? Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk': “I’m too hot, hot damn – call the police and the fireman!”
  • It’s so easy to fret over negative feedback and forget some of the lovely things people say about you: I fight this by jotting down kind compliments I receive from workmates, friends and strangers in my journal. It makes me smile to flick back through the pages and remember people’s positive words, especially when I’m feeling not-quite-good-enough!
  • Sign up for Sarah’s ‘Romance Yourself’ e-course: there’s nothing like a daily delivery of positivity and praise to kick off your morning!

caroline-bio

 

Caroline is launching The Girl With The Sunshine Tattoo on 20th June. This sparkly corner of the Internet will document her attempts to seek out sunshine-y experiences in London. She spends too much time at bottomless boozy Sunday brunches and rooftop bars. 

Twitter; Instagram

 

Why Self-Love Fuels Creativity & Embraces Your Dark Side.

Why Self-Love Fuels Creativity and Embraces Your Dark Side.Cassy is a fellow blogcadette and I’ve been lucky enough to chat with her at two blogger events. Her website, CassyFry.com, celebrates every facet of creativity and her positivity and passion for the arts is infectious. I know you’re going to love her insights on how to use creativity to amp up your self-love!

Creativity has saved me from myself countless times.

As soon as I learnt to read, I used books to escape reality, to discover new worlds and connect with other people (even if fictional). Then I started to write angsty poetry, listen to songs to transform my mood and fell in love with the thrill of throwing myself around to live music.

In bad times, the art I put on my walls and the tear-stained journals I scrawled were a reflection of my fears, insecurities and depression. My identity became tangled up with low self-esteem. There was a part of me that thought my darker side was what made me interesting, but it paralysed my own creativity.

There are many myths about creativity, but one that springs to mind is that of the tortured artist, that suffering produces the best art. Happy people have no stories, right?

Suffering has provided inspiration for many beautiful works of art, epic novels and moving music, because it is a part of the human experience.

Life’s challenges inspire me, but I couldn’t create or communicate them in any meaningful way without self love. Those tear-stained journals are a confusing mess, but my memories of those times will continue to influence me.

My discovery of self love and my own creativity happened simultaneously. They continue to fuel each other.

Why Self-Love Fuels Creativity and Embraces Your Dark Side.Being creative, whether that is colouring, crafting or writing, has given me distraction from problems when I needed it, but also space to reflect on them.

What you consume or create shapes your existence, and you can use it to reinforce good or bad feelings. I’m not suggesting a creative equivalent of clean eats. I’ll never give up dark angsty music, bleak books or theatre that makes me cry.

For me, self love is about understanding and treasuring yourself as you are. Balancing your light and dark sides. Knowing what will make you happy, when you need to be challenged, what will help you and what will hold you back.

You won’t always have the answer straight away. You need to practise self love daily to keep understanding and embracing all that you are. Being creative can help, plus it makes it fun too!

Here are some creative self-love actions you can try:

  • Keep an art journal rather an a rant-y diary, list, draw or write the happy things – compliments, memories and hopes, mix in beautifully illustrated bittersweet quotes to taste.
  • Connect with other creative people, share your work, knowledge and enthusiasm. Join a local group or find people on line (you could join my DIY Creative Club!).
  • Have a ‘go and see’, take a break and open yourself up to new perspectives and experiences – visit an exhibition, go to an arthouse cinema, dance to live punk rock music or take part in an immersive theatre performance.
  • Woo yourself by writing a love poem or song to yourself (this can be hard, but it will make you feel amazing, I promise!)

cassy-bio

 

Cassy Fry is writer, stylish lady and cat lover. She is passionate about encouraging and connecting creative people. She shares inspiration and cheerleads for creativity in its many forms on her blog cassyfry.com and through the DIY Creative Club.

Website; Twitter; Facebook; Instagram; Tumblr

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