Positive 2020 reflections

Welcome back ! I’ve been mostly absent on here this week, as final exams are fast approaching and I needed a lot of time to focus on studying and try to get my grades as high as I can before the end of the semester.

Still, I wanted to do a little more blog-hopping lately – something that’s been difficult to do this weekend as I got a quadruple tooth extraction on Friday (wisdom teeth, how I hate you…) that left me drowsy on painkillers for most of the weekend. I’ll try to catch up after finals, though, so I’ll do my best to go read all the amazing blog posts published while I was recovering from my operation!

Bookending Winter is a book blogging event run by Clo and Sam, in which different bloggers host a couple of prompts each during the month of December. Anyone who wants to participate can register on the announcement post, make 3 (or more) posts during the event, and link them up on the challenge spreadsheet so others can find them easily!

Today’s prompt is absolutely lovely, and comes from Sumedha @ the wordy habitat :

Prompt Explanation : 2020 has not been easy but we should take some time to find positives everywhere because it helps us move on easily. Take today to talk about the highlights that made this year bearable.

This year has been extremely difficult, and I appreciate a lot that this prompt takes the focus back to the good things instead of the endless stream of difficulties that we’ve probably all experienced during this trying time! I talked a bit about two big things that helped me a lot this year in another blog post this month, so reflecting on the small positives and highlights of the year seems like a good plan!

Related post : Warming your winter : the things that made this year better

This year, I….

Rediscovered photography

Photo by @rumandraisin on Unsplash

I have a pretty good camera, and I’ve always been interested in learning how to use it better, so this year, whenever I could, I took it out of the bag and tried taking pictures in different styles, figuring out what I do and don’t like, etc.

Some of the results were bad, some were good, and most of them helped me understand more how my camera works and improve my technique.

One of my friends also got me into a photoshoot with her and another friend in November, and the photographer that was there took some time to teach me how to take better portraits, which was super nice of him!

Read a ton of good books

I’m so grateful for my local library and the bookstore a couple of streets from my apartment. I’ve been reading a lot more this year, especially since we moved to a new part of the city where we’re much closer to those two places, and it’s been such a help in feeling better about confinement, and adjusting better to this new way of life!

Got some plants

Now, I’m not saying they’re all still alive, but I’m trying. So far, only two out of 5 have died ! (So far…). They’re adding so much joy to my living room, and they make my mornings happier and more tolerable, even when all I have to look forward to is a day inside, working until night falls, so I’m counting these as an important highlight. Even if they’re hard to keep alive.

Got a bike

Photo by @markusspiske on Unsplash

The highlight of my entire summer.

Biking almost every day made my days so much more bearable, especially when I had a job as an essential worker and was constantly under the stress of risking getting sick every day when I went to work. It’s also a super safe mean of transportation, covid-wise, since you’re not getting close to anybody!

Now that winter is here, I’m mostly just walking everywhere, but I’m taking the bike out as soon as the snow clears out in March!

Did sports semi-regularly

This was one of my resolutions for 2020, and one that I tried my best to maintain – and it did wonders for my mental health! I would definitely have fared much worse for the past 9 months if I hadn’t had the option and equipment necessary at home to do some form of physical exercise at lest 5 times a week. I’m not much of a spiritual or religious person, my family isn’t very supportive and I don’t really meditate, but doing sports helped me be calmer and center myself more on the things that matter, and decreased my anxiety by a lot.

The fact that I had a fitbit bracelet also helped achieve this goal, as it served as positive reinforcement most of the time, making me acknowledge – even on days when I felt like the human equivalent of a potato – that I was doing something good, and that taking care of myself was important.

Loved my classes and my program

It seems to me that the more I advance in my studies, the more I love psychology! I’ve been taking a lot of classes this year, and I’ve loved every single one of them so far. It’s an amazing feeling, being able to study what you love and do something that interests you that much!

Got nice clothes

I usually only buy clothing when the pieces I currently have are falling to pieces. About 90% of the stuff that I own is at least 3 to 4 years-old, or hand-me-downs from someone else in my family or friend circle. But this year, as I started to figure out more who I want to be as an adult, and what I like – as opposed to what other people want me to be / like – I did buy a little more than usual.

Three new pairs of pants, one comfortable knitted dress for the winter, and two knitted turtleneck cropped tops have been added to my closet, and I’m really happy with them! They make me feel more confident in myself, and in what I’m doing, and I like my image much more in this style. I’m still trying to figure out what style, exactly, I like the most, but this is a good start!

Started cooking more

Photo by @ellaolsson on Unsplash

Being in a bigger apartment came with having a bigger kitchen area – not a really large one, but enough space to prepare food, have the instant pot sitting on the countertop, and have a full-sized oven! I had never gotten a full-sized oven before, not since I moved out of my parents’ house… seven or so years ago?

So I’ve been cooking a lot more this year, and rediscovering the pleasure of making tasty meals at home, and spending time on a recipe to learn a new technique or perfect something I really liked!

Got a makeup subscription

This is honestly the most self-indulgent this I did this year, and it made me so happy that I can’t regret it at all! I got a monthly subscription to a makeup bag, Ipsy, priced at 12$USD per month – with tax and delivery, it comes up to around 20$CAD. I’ve saved a bit of money on other things to be able to afford it, and getting that monthly package in the mail has been a highlight of many months this year!

I’ve been experimenting more with makeup as a consequence of this, and I probably won’t keep the subscription forever as I don’t want to hoard a ton of makeup either, but it’s been really fun to discover these surprise packages at the end of every month.

That’s all for me for today – see you tomorrow and the next three days for my hosting days for Bookending Winter!

Back to blogging!

It’s been a long time since I wrote something here – my last post dates back to June 3rd, and so much has passed since then ! I got a new job, quit my old one, got back into Zoom university for a brand new semester, picked up old hobbies I’d stopped doing months ago, got really into cycling and biked every day to work… it’s been a long few months.

I’d love to make a series of posts on what I’ve been up to recently, but I honestly don’t have enough time right now (more on that later, by the way – it’s good news!), so I’ll just give you a relatively short overview here!

1 . I quit my job, and got a new one

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that up until my last post, I was working in a supermarket as a cashier / customer service agent. I really enjoyed this job, and the colleagues were all super nice, but during the month of July, my hours were cut – by a lot. Long story short, the salary I ended up making over July wasn’t enough for what I needed it for anymore (namely : food, phone bill, a new laptop and my university tuition fees due in September).

Fortunately, a local restaurant near my house was recruiting at that time, so I sent them a resume and a short email just in case my profile interested them – and it did! I got an interview a week or so later, and ended up quitting my supermarket job at the beginning of August to work at the restaurant full-time for the remainder of the summer.

As of now, I’ve been changed into a part-time worker at the restaurant, and I’m hoping my city stays safe enough that we don’t have to close, so I can keep working as much as possible during the school year. Even with parental support (and I’m lucky and privileged enough to have some, so if the worst happens and I lose my job, I can still pay my rent and eat), living in a big city is expensive, and being a university student comes with a lot of extra costs, which means I really want to hold on to this job as long as I can!

2 . University started again

Photo by Fallon Michael on Pexels.com

I took two summer classes during the lockdown, and those were really useful to familiarize myself with Zoom. For the current semester, I have five classes, all online, one of which is actually an internship in a psychology lab at the university.

I’m super excited for the lab! I got into my first choice of internship, and the project we’re going to be working on is on the very topic I’d like to do my doctorate thesis on – there’s honestly no better option I could have had.

It is, however, going to ask a lot of time and effort from me. I’ve got classes on 3 days a week, and one full day for the internship, with the remaining three days for work shifts at the restaurant – with the way things are working out now, I won’t really have a full day of rest anytime soon, so I’ll take it wherever I can.

3 . Reading

I spent a lot of my reading time getting through personal finance books, university mandatory readings, etc. and ended up reading mostly non-fiction for the past 3 months.

As a good part of it was in French, I probably won’t be reviewing these on the blog, but I might add them to my Goodreads account just to keep track of them. The library in my city has reopened, and I’ve been making the most of my library card since we can’t go there to sit, browse books a long tine, read with a snack or study quietly anymore.

4 . New hobbies

Last week, I took out my camera to take some pictures outside, when – to my utmost horror – it didn’t turn on. Cue one full day of me panicking over it, thinking I’ll need to mail it back to the manufacturer to get it repaired and pay hundreds of dollars since the warranty has expired… and then my cool-headed better half came and said “Maude, have you tried bringing it to the closest photography shop? They might know what’s going on, and be able to repair it for less than that!”.

Well. Turns out the better half was right – the battery was dead, and even if batteries aren’t cheap, it still cost me way less than what I has scared myself into believing it would.

Photography is a hobby I used to love a few years ago, and I gradually stopped doing it when this whole pandemic business happened. But my university has started a new psychology project, the Resilience project, to help students find good ways to cope during the months to come, and this week’s task was to re-discover old hobbies or things we used to love, and try them out again. So, with my now-functional camera in hand, I got back into photography!

5 . New laptop

A lot of my saved money from this summer has gone to my student tuition, but I also needed to save some of it for a new laptop : my old one had broken down at the hinges to the point that the screen was falling off one side, and whenever it slightly moved, it would go completely dark until I found an angle that made the bad connection work again for a short while. Long story short – it wasn’t going to work for and entire semester of Zoom university™. No way.

So since I had to get a new laptop, I tried and saved enough money for one that would let me study, blog, edit photos and play good videogames, and got myself an Acer Nitro 5 on sale! I got it for waaay cheaper than the current retail price is, because it was a) on sale and b) a box that someone else had bought and returned to the store, so it had an even bigger discount while still having a 1-year warranty. This model is light, fast, has a backlit keyboard and a full HD display with a 120Hz screen, and my comfort while working with it is incredible.

… and I’ve fallen into the No Man’s Sky hole and have been spending hours of my “rest” time for the past week playing this game and having lots of fun with it. 10/10, worth it, would definitely recommend.

I’ve also been watching a lot of studytube videos, and recently tried my hand at Notion (I might make a post about this later, or link to some interesting resources posts on it that I’ve read this week!) to plan my days and keep track of all my current projects.

I’m slowly easing back into blogging, and will try to post a little more before the end of the month and the beginning of October – we’ll see how that goes!

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10 things I’d like to to in November

Can you believe it’s already November ? This year went by so fast, it feels like I didn’t have any time to do all of the things I set out to do in January ! Still, I’ve made a lot of progress in 2019, and I’m going to try to maintain that for the last two month of the year.

Following last month’s 10 things I’d like to do in October, I though I’d try to make this a regular feature, and share the 10 goals I wrote down in my bullet journal for this month ! So here’s a short list of things I’m planning to work on during the next 30-ish days.

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Photo by @esteejanssens on Unsplash

1 . Read 4 books off my TBR

I’ve realized that when I plan out my monthly TBR, I usually never get to read all of the books I put on it – I can manage to read a few, but I often make myself feel guilty about it when I really shouldn’t. I mean, it’s a TBR, a personal list of books I’d like to read, not an obligation ! So this month, the goal is to check 4 or 5 books off the list – and to not feel guilty about not getting to read the rest of it.

(And anyways, I’m good on my Goodreads goal, so I’ve got nothing to feel bad about !)

2 . Post 10 times on my blog

Blogtober got me pretty motivated, and forced me to plan a bit more my posts – and it worked out well for me ! I’m usually really busy with life in general, and only find the time to post 2 to 3 times a month, but in October, I published no less than 10 new articles on À lire plus tard ! The challenge really motivated me, so I’m going to try to do the same this month, and see where it goes.

3 . Keep exercising

I have a fitbit watch, and it’s really useful to check on how much I exercise. The bad news, about that, is that I clearly don’t exercise as much a I should. I don’t usually walk 9000 steps a day, and do actual sports maybe twice a week. But I’m working on it !

4 . Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night

This one is quite self-explanatory. My sleep schedule isn’t looking good right now, and I’m making this one of my monthly goals in order to give it the importance it deserves.

5 . Keep studying even if I don’t have any exams this month

I have a really bad habit where I study a lot when I have an exam coming up, then completely stop studying once the exam has passed. It’s not good for my long term results : studying with such an irregular schedule makes me forget what I learned soon after the exam, and it gets even harder to have to learn all of it again.

6 . Get a job

I applied to job offers last months but didn’t get a positive answer yet, so I’m going to keep searching. My finances aren’t looking good right now, so I need it sooner than later – this is the last month I can “afford” to not have a job yet, so I’m not picky about what type of work I’m willing to do.

7 . Form new relationships

Moving to a new city, in a new province, made some of my relationships less functional – some were based on going to the same events, having coffee together once a month, studying together, etc. – and I know I don’t do well alone. I’ve made some new connections here since I arrived, so, since I don’t have exams to focus on, I’m going to try to make some real friends here and share things with people a bit more !

8 . Post more on bookstagram

Screenshot_2019-11-04 Maude ( a_lire_plus_tard) • Photos et vidéos Instagram.png

I made a bookstagram account to go with this blog !

It only has 2 photos for now, because I don’t have many occasions to take really good pictures for it, but I’ll try to keep it up do date with what I’m currently reading, so the books featured on my feed will probably be there before I review them here.

9 . Buy less takeout coffee

I spend so much money buying Starbucks and Tim Hortons coffee in September and October…. I really need to stop doing that. I made a small coffee budget this month, and I’m going to try to stick to it as much as possible.

10 . Write something

I’ve been meaning to write something for years, but the act of writing in English feels really daunting to me, so I though I’d start with something small, like a short fanfiction of a TV show or a movie I liked a lot. Starting with that might help me feel more confident in my ability to write something longer and more complex.

What are your monthly goals for November ? Do you plan them monthly, weekly, yearly, or not at all ? Feel free to share your methods in the comments !