Chrome Extensions I Find Useful

Inspired by Rowena Tsai’s video (I’ll link her video at the end of this post) on the Chrome extensions she finds useful, I decided to take a look at my own extensions and how I use them to boost my productivity. Now, I realize that this blog post might be a bit niche but as someone who is constantly using her laptop for all kinds of things; university, this blog, writing and reading, I like geeking out about things that make my laptop work better. So while I learnt about a couple of extensions from Rowena which I began enjoying as of late, I am not going to talk about those because I don’t have a well-developed impression of them.

The first extension I find useful is Grammarly. I have been using this extension for a while now since college actually. I have always been proud of my spelling and grammar, especially because English is not my first language, however, we all make mistakes and as someone who studies literature and whose passion is writing stories, Grammarly is so helpful. Grammarly is an extension which corrects your spelling and grammar mistakes and tells you why your original text is wrong.

The second extension I find useful is Forest. Forest is an extension that blocks sites you don’t want to utilise (such as YouTube, Netflix, Twitch, etc.) for a specified amount of time. When the timer goes off you have a pretty tree in your little garden and coins which you can spend on more pretty trees. If you decide to use the sites that cause you to get distracted anyway, you tree dies and leaves an ugly dead tree in your little garden. This is especially useful for me when I’m reading for my classes, writing assignments and writing for my stories. Whenever I run out of ideas for my stories or the reading material is giving me a headache, I immediately run to YouTube so this extension is super useful to keep me focused and on track.

The third extension I find useful is AdBlock which is pretty self-explanatory. I personally find it hard focusing on articles I’m reading and even when I watch videos because ads are constantly blinking in my face. Not to mention all the ‘indecent’ ads that pop out of nowhere.

Lastly, the extension I’ve had for the longest time is Momentum. I don’t really use this one is for productivity reason but rather because it looks nicer than the usual Google search bar and all the bookmarks under it. It also has a to-do list and really beautiful pictures so that’s a bonus!

So here it is, my favourite Chrome extensions! I hope you found these useful or even just a little interesting. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post!

What are your favourite Chrome extensions, do you even use extensions?

With love,

Sonny xx

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(GIFs ARE NOT MINE< CREDIT GOES TO WHOEVER MADE THEM!)

Hogwarts Houses Study Tips: Hufflepuff

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The third part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips is all about helping hufflepuffs finding different and maybe even better ways of studying. This week I will be focusing less on study strategies such as ‘teach it to others’ and ‘ask for help’ and more on the reasons why some of us have a hard time concentrating on our studies. I think we can all agree that as students in this modern age, our attention span gets shorter and shorter as technology and social media gets better and better. I personally have days in which I sit down at my desk, ready to read a text from the 18th century and I just can’t seem to focus – or I focus for the first five minutes and then I suddenly catch myself staring at the wall and daydreaming about Sandra Oh. It’s not like I am underprepared, I have all my essentials right next to me – a notebook to jot down notes, coffee/water, snacks and my phone is far away on my bed. Still, I can’t concentrate.

I think people deal differently with this situation. Some of us get annoyed and take a nap, others persevere, maybe they even find ways to make the content fun and interesting. But I genuinely think that before we do any of that, we should come to terms with the reasons why we’re having such a hard time studying. Here are a couple of tips that might help with that.

Hufflepuff

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Patience

Loyalty

Dedication

Kindness

Unafraid

Be patient and kind with yourself

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You know how some older people tell us that our generation is lacking independence and focus? Well, don’t listen to them. Times are changing, society is evolving and technology has a very big impact on our day to day lives, even though we might not realize it at the moment. Back in the day, people had to buy newspapers to get their news, now it’s all at our fingertips. Back in the day research was done in libraries by reading tons of books, now it’s at the push of a button. Of course, we would find it harder to focus, we don’t have to sit down for hours just to accomplish one task. So be kind and patient with yourself, don’t stress too much and you will succeed.

Spend some time understanding why you’re having trouble

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Instead of just diving into whatever you have to do or study, take some time to analyse the situation. Why do you lose focus so easily? What’s distracting you and how can you make sure you keep focused for as long as you need to. Naturally, our minds can only focus for twenty minutes before our minds start to wander. I personally found out that because of my very active imagination, I tend to slip into this land of daydreams whenever I lose focus. So instead of sitting down for hours, trying to concentrate on a subject that I might not even like, I study in bursts of 20 minutes and take 5-minute breaks in between. This way I can give into my wandering mind and keep focused for those 20 minutes.

Don’t be afraid of change

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I wrote a blog post about how I stopped fearing change which you can read *here*. Change is such a natural phenomenon and it’s normal to be afraid of change because it means stepping out of our comfort zone. But change is essential to living a productive and active lifestyle – a life worth being proud of. If you really, really want to get that degree or become a doctor/lawyer/photographer/etc. then being a proactive learner is worth changing your habits for. Instead of resigning yourself to bad study sessions and going to class confused, take this opportunity to change the way you study and focus in order to achieve your dreams and your goals!

So here it is, the third part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series. I hope these tips helped you understand and work through the frustrations of not being able to hunker down and learn. Thanks a lot for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which is a list of my favourite kpop groups as well as the other parts in this series: Gryffindor and Ravenclaw!

With love,

Sonny xx

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(GIFs are NOT MINE – credit goes to their creators)

How I Stopped Fearing Change

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           I think this blog post could have very well been a part of my ‘Be Present’ blog post from a few weeks back, and of course, change is a big part of us moving through the different stages of our lives. Change is a natural phenomenon but it’s also something we fear or avoid. It’s also something I’ve been struggling with for the better part of my life.

           I was that child kicking and screaming when her mum dropped her off at nursery in the morning and I was that kid who hated having to leave her country to be with her parents at the age of eleven because the prospect of change terrified me. I know that anyone would be anxious if they were to go through what I did but I think I took it especially hard. I practically isolated myself from everyone I knew and I can count on two hands the times I left my house to go out in the first six months of moving to the UK. It’s safe to say that I don’t fare well with change.

           This fear of change followed me to this day – from finishing secondary school and starting college to beginning my journey at university, I am still just as afraid of change as I was on my first day of nursery. That’s not to say that I am always on the safe side, I certainly have my moments when I forget all rationale and dive straight into whatever’s in front of me, no matter the consequence but sometimes, well, sometimes I have to really think about my decisions because the fear of making a bad decision is so overwhelming that it paralyzes me.

           Because of my fear of change I started noticing things about myself. I started noticing how small changes make me feel compared to big changes. Small changes like going vegetarian and then vegan (small for me, big for others – everyone has their own journey) compared to moving countries at the young age of 11 are certainly hard to compare even though they both affected my lifestyle and how I now view the world. I noticed that I can accept small changes, changes that don’t have a huge impact on my day to day life, a lot easier than major changes and I began asking myself why. Of course, because major changes like starting university and moving to another country are bound to throw me into new situations and out of my comfort zone – I can’t control the impact these changes have on my life the way I can control my diet for example. That’s when I realized that I am not really afraid of change because obviously, small change doesn’t bother me, but that I am afraid of losing control and I believe this is something very common, especially amongst young people.

           The next step for me was to want to get over my need to be in control of everything which was the difficult part because on one hand, I thought that being in control of everything meant that I was safely in my comfort zone and nothing could shake me out of it. In reality, I wasn’t nearly as safe in my comfort zone as I thought I was because that’s not how life works. Life doesn’t wait for anybody to be ready for change and so by not accepting change and needing to be in control all the time, I wasn’t protecting myself, I was actually holding myself back from learning how to handle losing control of everything so when something big happened I didn’t know how to react. That’s when I realized that in order to live a more fulfilling, less scared life, I needed to figure out why I wanted to be more spontaneous and less controlling.

           One of the main reasons why I went on this little journey of self-reflection was that I knew that I wanted to experience life at its fullest capacity and since then, I’ve been working hard on accepting change and losing control from time to time. Of course, nothing happens overnight and I am still very much set on some things, but I am glad I took that step forward and allowed myself to work on becoming a better person, even though I am not there yet.

           So here it is, a whole blog post about one of my deepest insecurities, just two months after launching this blog. It really doesn’t take me a long time to feel comfortable enough to over-share. Anyway, I think that as long as this is out there and has the potential to inspire at least one person or to even just spark a bit of interest, then that’s good enough for me. Thank you for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which was the second part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series – the Ravenclaw edition.

With love,

Sonny xx

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Hogwarts Houses Study Tips: Ravenclaw

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Welcome to the second part of my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips series! This time, I am going to give you some studying tips and advice that relates to Ravenclaw. As I mentioned in the first instalment of this series, Harry Potter is still very much relevant in today’s society even though it’s a fiction story about a teenage wizard. A lot of people relate to the Hogwarts houses system and some people even base some of their decisions and beliefs based on that.

This list is not meant to come across as law – people are multidimensional which means that what works for one Ravenclaw might not work for another. (I realize that I’m taking this way too seriously but bare with me).

Without further ado, here are three Ravenclaw study tips.

Ravenclaw

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Engaging

Helpful

Competitive

Talented

Productive

Teach it to others

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Learning is a layered process for a lot of people. When we first learn something we add the first layer which we then revise and add the second layer. To really consolidate our learning, it’s useful to teach the knowledge we just acquired to others. Not only does it point out the parts we didn’t understand but it also forms mental cues through repetition.

Discuss

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It’s easy to learn something from a book or a lecture and then dust our hands because it’s all done but just as we are multidimensional, the subjects we study are too. It’s worth studying subjects in depth, analysing and deepening our understanding not only because it helps secure those extra points in exams and projects but also because it builds confidence in our knowledge and our ability to listen to others with an open mind.

Quiz Yourself

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This particular point doesn’t work for me but a lot of my friends swear by it. Quizzing yourself, whether by using apps or covering the answers with an object or your hand is useful because it lets you know whether you really understood the concept and it further consolidates your knowledge through repetition.

So here it is, three study tips for all you lovely Ravenclaws out there. Thanks a lot for reading and please make sure to check the first part of this series which is all about Gryffindor study tips as well as my last blog post which is about my kpop journal.

With love,

Sonny xx

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(GIFs are not mine, credit goes to whoever made them)

Bullet Journaling: My 3 Favourite Spreads

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Up to this point, I think I managed to portray myself as someone who is constantly trying to get their sh*t together be it through self-care, self-acceptance, reading and being positive. Of course, that doesn’t work every time because everyone has those days, y’know? But something that really helps me keep myself on track in every aspect of my life is my bullet journal which I carry around with me at all times. My bullet journal is part of my morning routine and night routine (blog post coming soon) and it also serves as a reminder throughout the day.

I began bullet journaling at the end of my first year of college – I remember it so clearly… Scrolling through Tumblr on the study motivation hashtag and seeing all these amazing bullet journals. It left such a good impression that I started researching and watching Youtube videos (instead of studying for the exam I had the next morning). The next day, right before my exam (and I mean, right before – I have no idea how I made it to that exam) I went and bought my first bullet journal; an A5 black Moleskine that is still my favourite bullet journal to this day. My first spread in that notebook was a June calendar.

But what is a bullet journal? According to the Bullet Journal website: “The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” (http://bulletjournal.com/) But to me, the bullet journal system means something a bit different. To me, my bullet journal is a physical, visual representation of my brain. Whatever goes through my brain is written down in my bullet journal such as reminders, to-do lists, quotes, song lyrics, story ideas, poems, blog post ideas, top 5 lists, research, birthdays, brain-dumps, etc.

Anyway, enough of me rambling about my absolute adoration for this amazing system, here are three of my favourite spreads that I couldn’t possibly do without:

Calendar

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This one is super basic but I guess the basics are always the most important. The calendar in my bullet journal is one of my favourites spreads simply because it’s so accessible when I have everything in that little (not so little) notebook. Yeah, I can use the calendar on my phone but it’s easier for me to flip from my weekly spread to my reminders and then back to my calendar instead of fumbling with my phone and writing things down and then writing them on my phone – it’s just too much work, I’d rather have it all in one place. Something else I like about my calendar is that it’s always paired with my monthly page which is basically a doodle/quote that fills the whole page. I think the reason why I like the monthly page so much is that it makes it easier for me to visually separate let’s say, July from June.

Weekly spreads

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Another basic one but again, super important. My weekly spread is where my productivity lies. Everything I have to do throughout the week is there, so easily accessible. I can just switch to my weekly spread and see everything I have to do that day. I also like my weekly spreads because of the way I bullet journal; I am a very visual person, I like colours and aesthetics and even though I’m not an amazing artist, I enjoy doodling. My weekly pages allow me to be creative and so they always have a different theme/aesthetic which is super fun to look at every day.

Research/Thoughts/Poetry/Quotes/Etc.

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I feel like not a lot of people actually do these or if they do they never put them out there for people to see. You always see beautiful pictures of daily spreads or monthly overviews but you never see these. My bullet journal is my brain and so whenever I’m listening to a podcast, reading a book or watching a YT video and I want to remember what I’m hearing I just take notes in my bullet journal. Same thing with quotes and song lyrics. I also write poetry in my bullet journal and I plan chapters for my stories and describe my characters. I think that having these types of spreads in your bullet journal not only makes your notebook more unique, it also helps you stick to bullet journaling and being productive as well as it keeps your mind constantly creative and occupied.

Honourable mentions:

Gratitude log

Sleep log

Wishlist

So here are my three favourite bullet journal spreads as well as some honourable mentions. I hope this list helped you maybe by giving you some ideas for your bullet journal or maybe even inspired you to start your own. Thanks for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which was the first post in my Hogwarts Houses Study Tips!

With love,

Sonny xx

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7 Organization Tips

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          Summers used to be all about hanging out with friends, lazing around and staying up till the sunrise but now that we’re older, summers tend to go a bit differently. Personally, I like to take my time to improve myself during the long summer vacations. When I finished my GCSEs I finished an online Creative Writing course and after finishing my first year of college I gave learning Korean a try. Despite the fact that every summer I try something new, I always lose focus by the end of the holidays and in turn, I end up showing up to class in September feeling unmotivated and confused because I let the end-of-term chaos roll into the new term.

          This time around, I decided to ask myself a few questions because usually at the end of the academic year I end up very confused and tired. Some questions I asked myself are “how was the first year of university?” and “what could I do better in the second year?” and after doing some self-evaluation and reflecting on my first year of university (I made a *post* about it – you should check it out!) I came to the realization that at some point throughout the year I lost sense of my goals and how I was planning to reach them.

          In order for me to find some motivation and feel more in-tune with my goals and aspirations, I came up with a way to get myself organized again. Through following this ‘recipe’ I am able to be self-aware and proactive about the way I spend my time, the things that are going to help me reach my goals and the things that won’t. Here are seven tips for becoming a more organized person.

 

Keep a tidy work-space

          Personally, this is an important part of how I keep myself organized and focused and although I know that some people thrive off of chaos and an organized mess, I am not that person. I need my work-space, be it my desk, the dinner table or my little corner in the library, to be tidy and efficient for what I am planning to do.

Preparing the night before

          This is also very important. How many of us hear the sound of the alarm in the morning and dread getting out of bed because even though the day just started, we have a hundred and one tasks to do from the get-go. It’s no surprise that we are so overwhelmed as we are always on the go, hustling and trying to reach our goals but I believe that would be easier if we started enjoying mornings a little bit more. Therefore, I take time to prepare my meal, my clothes and my bag for the next day the night before, that way I don’t wake up and immediately feel overwhelmed.

Cluster similar tasks together

          I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think of this before when it’s such a no-brainer. Instead of jumping from one task to another (doing the dishes to studying for finals) it’s easier to just cluster together similar tasks. For example, it’s easier to answer emails, make phone calls and listen to a lecture one after another because they all involve your laptop/phone and thus you can move from one area of your to-do list to another more seamlessly.

Focus on short-term goals on your to-do lists

          It’s easier to get muddled up, confused and anxious if we overload our to-do lists with tasks that have to be done, say, next week. If it can’t be done today it shouldn’t be on today’s list because seeing so many irrelevant tasks is bound to make us anxious about not being able to tick all the boxes. By focusing on short-term goals and breaking down our to-do lists in a practical manner we’ll feel less unmotivated and beat-down at the end of the day.

Plan Journeys

          This is important not only because nobody likes people who are always late but also because ‘the early bird gets the worm’. I can clearly and proudly say that I have NEVER been late to anything in my life and this is partly due to my anxiety and the fear of walking in and everyone staring at me and partly because I want to always make a good impression. On a daily basis, I make sure to arrive wherever I’m headed to at least half an hour before the set time. This allows me to work with the small inconveniences of every day, city life such as traffic, no service on the tube, etc.

Give yourself rewards for completing tasks or staying on schedule

          I think it’s safe to say that we are all only human. It’s natural to feel depleted and tired sometimes and therefore rewards are a great way to motivate yourself to keep going and to take care of yourself. I wrote a whole blog post about self-care which you can check out *here*.

Be aware of what works and why it works(metacognition) and don’t be afraid to change your time management techniques if they are not working

          When it comes to things such as the way you organize your life, it’s easy to assume that you can follow the same ‘recipe’ for the rest of your life but in reality, we are ever evolving creatures and our habits, goals and states of mind change and grow as much as we do which is why it’s critical that you review your organization/time-management techniques every so often while keeping it real with yourself. Some questions to ask yourself when doing this are “is this working for me?” and “are my techniques still relevant to my goals and my dreams?” More often than not the answer will be ‘no’ but that is the beauty of change. Allowing change to happen is important because it will give you something to work with when you’re feeling like your life isn’t going according to plan. So don’t be scared to be critical with yourself and embrace change!

 

          So here it is, a (long) list of my organization tips and the reasons why I think they could be helpful to you too. Thank you so much for reading and make sure to check out my last blog post which is all about my favourite books!

 

With love,

Sonny xx

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Top 3 Favourite Books

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          I think people who enjoy reading are very much like parents in the sense that they can never choose between their children aka their favourite books. There is never ONE favourite book. There are multiple books that we find ourselves in along the years and therefore our favourite books change just as much as we do. When I was seven my favourite book was 101 Dalmatians, when I was twelve it was The Prince and the Pauper and when I was fifteen it was The Book Thief. Now that I am nineteen years old these are my favourite three books, fiction and non-fiction.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.” (Goodreads)

          Anyone who knows me knows that this is my favourite book (because I tend to talk about it too much). This is a spin-off of Fangirl which I also loved very much. According to reviews, Carry On is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery but I really think it’s so much more than a young adult novel that’s meant to recreate the world of Harry Potter. The themes addressed in this novel replicate the ones in the HP universe, such as race bias, prophecies and parental figures but they go beyond that. Unlike Rowling’s Harry Potter, Carry On has a diverse range of characters in terms of race, nationality and sexuality. Rowell plays with stereotypes in a beautiful and realistic way – she portrays Agatha (Simon’s girlfriend) as the gorgeous and rich ‘it’ girl but Agatha is so much more, she’s confident and despite the ‘it’ girl stereotype, she’s not seeking attention but peace and comfort. Same goes for Baz who like in HP (Draco) is supposed to be the antagonist. Rainbow Rowell doesn’t leave it at that, she developed Baz’s character and personality so well that now he’s one of the (if not the) most beloved character. I truly recommend giving this book a try – the sequel is coming out in 2020!

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

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“Virginia Woolf’s Orlando ‘The longest and most charming love letter in literature’, playfully constructs the figure of Orlando as the fictional embodiment of Woolf’s close friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West. Spanning three centuries, the novel opens as Orlando, a young nobleman in Elizabeth’s England, awaits a visit from the Queen and traces his experience with first love as England under James I lies locked in the embrace of the Great Frost. At the midpoint of the novel, Orlando, now an ambassador in Constantinople, awakes to find that he is a woman, and the novel indulges in farce and irony to consider the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As the novel ends in 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Orlando, now a wife and mother, stands poised at the brink of a future that holds new hope and promise for women.” (Goodreads)

          I am not going to lie, I had to read this book for university but despite how people usually dislike the books they read in school, literature people learn to love them. Not only do we get to expand our horizons and try new genres, but we also get to be critical of what we read. We read between the lines and analyse the reception a story got overtime only to understand the mind of the author and how the story came to be what it is today. This was the case with Orlando. At first, the structure confused me but as I read on, I fell in love with the beautiful words and the gorgeous imagery that lives inside this book. It’s truly a beautiful story that was written ahead of its time.

The Inner Beauty Bible by Laurey Simmons

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“We all have inner beauty. This is your one-stop handbook to nurturing beauty and wellbeing from the inside out.
Combining ancient wisdom with modern-day mindfulness, this book shows you how to polish your heart and nourish your soul with a collection of simple rituals that can be easily woven into busy modern lives.
In The Inner Beauty Bible, you will learn to:
Introduce accessible rituals into your life that will strengthen your connection to Inner Beauty.
Create beautiful sacred spaces using crystals, natural objects, beautiful smells and sounds.
Truly nurture yourself: from turning your bedroom into a peaceful sanctuary to a delicious rose-infused bath-time ritual.
Stay connected to your Inner Beauty in challenging times.
Tap into the deeper wisdom and healing potential of Nature.
Master simple practices to help you tune into the beauty in the everyday.
Perform rituals for different moments and needs: to boost energy, to let go, to celebrate and to manifest abundance.” (Goodreads)

          The Inner Beauty Bible was my introduction to the self-help genre after ages of being sure that self-help books just aren’t for me. I have to admit, I bought this book while I was out with a friend mostly because of its gorgeous cover and beautiful photography inside but boy am I happy I judged this book by its cover. Like its cover, the content of this book is inspiring and eye-opening. We all know that we live in a fast-paced world, we know we must take some time to get our minds right and that sometimes we need to be creative in the ways we approach our mental health. This book gives a spiritual outlook (not necessarily religious) to our everyday lives and it gives us the tools to deal with our inner selves so we can maintain our inner gardens beautiful.

          So here are my favourite books as of now. Feel free to share what your favourite books are in the comments below and make sure to check out my last post which is a self-care alphabet. Thank you for reading!

With love,

Sonny xx

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