Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 12.37.31 copy 2

Stick To The Status Quo? | The Self Series

Welcome to Episode 5 in The Self Series. This is the series where I give some thought to common said quotes in today’s society. This time it’s all about the status quo.

What is the status quo?

Status quo is a Latin word literally meaning ‘the state in which’. In today’s society, the label status quo is typically used to generalise what is deemed ‘normal’ in society.

21706425_10213770483486726_295875863_o

I have a discussion for us today based around my personal take on the saying “Stick to the status quo” – and before you ask, yes, I was a huge High School Musical fan as a kid.

So, what is my take? I see the status quo as more of a comfort zone; sticking to the status quo being the attitude of playing it safe rather than only societal norms. If we talk about the status quo in this way, this would be our own choice – right? We individually decide whether or not to stay comfortable.  If you ask me, life is all about taking risks and encouraging ourselves to get out there and make the most of things. Life is also about encouraging everybody around us to do the same.

21706425_10213770483486726_295875863_o

Quite often when it comes to something new, our bodies inject our minds with a little thing called fear. We can’t blame our bodies for this feeling, because ultimately it’s a survival instinct, but sometimes we mistake worry for fear; we escalate the anxiousness of failure to a level of fear that makes things seem impossible. Well, I’m here to tell you to feel the fear and do it anyway. This seems to be an overall theme in my blogs, but hear me out once again. If I asked you to join me on a skydiving quest tomorrow, what would you say? I know your body would probably start to feel a little more tense, and some part of your insides would do a little dive to the pit of your stomach, but after putting that aside what would YOU say??

I’d hope you’d say yes. After all, experiences such as this aren’t an everyday thing. I’m sure your first instinct would be to say no. Our bodies weren’t designed to fall from the sky, 15,000km above the earths tectonic plates, at speeds unknown to the raw human body – but hey? What’s the worst that could happen? I mean, ideally it’s probably not best to ponder this thought right before you jump – but seriously, you’d never do anything if you didn’t live with risk.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

I have in fact jumped from a plane. When I was about 16, one of my brothers and I joked about skydiving on a family holiday. Emphasis on the word joke. The next morning, as we were in our holiday cabin comfortable in our bunk beds, my parents came in with an aura of adrenaline and asked us, “How about it? Want to skydive today?”. I can tell you now, I still remember that feeling of absolute terror and how quickly my stomach clenched. It had only been a thought, something to laugh about, yet now it was so close to becoming reality. Eventually after our parents encouragement, me and my older brother committed to jump from a plane.

It was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. It was also one of the most terrifying and fear-filled adventures I’ve taken part in.

When I find myself filled with fear; from accepting a new job role, to travelling abroad solo, I tell myself what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself to feel the fear, and do it anyway because you only live once. More often than not, after we take these risks, we feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

21706425_10213770483486726_295875863_o

We’ve discussed taking risks, and now I want to bring us directly back to the status quo and the idea of self-expression. I was doing some research for this article, and I came across this quote from none other than Dr Seuss:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

As a child, I loved the books of Dr Seuss because they were so different to anything else I read. I loved the unique illustrations, the crazy storylines and the characters being so different to anything I knew in real life.

This quote from Dr Seuss is the definition of a perfect life. We can’t conform to the ideals of society; we can’t live our lives in response to someone else’s standards. If someone dislikes us for who we uniquely are, do they really matter? Should we really let their idea of a ‘right’ life distinguish how we live ours? NO! And if someone lives a true, self-actualized and self-empowered life, they’re not going to mind how we live ours. Be unique, and only live for yourself.

21706425_10213770483486726_295875863_o

When someone says things such as stick to the status quo to me, I can’t help but think it over. Remember: that feeling – after conquering a fear or something with an uncertain outcome – is what we should all live for. Be who you are, be true to your thoughts and your feelings.

Don’t believe the status quo to be anything other than encouragement to be different and adventurous.

Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

Café

The café in which I sit is submerged in life. People’s bellies satisfyingly full of freshly ground coffee, minds greedily living vicariously through those in the novels they read, mouths competing against each other in unconstrained conversation.

I come to this café often. I mostly come with a friend who also likes to write, we sit and motivate each other with silence amongst offerings of the thesauruses within our heads. I also come alone and it’s days like these I find myself to be more productive. I order a coffee and put my headphones in. This mutes a very distinctive and important connection to the people surrounding me; I don’t hear voices nor background noise, I just see bodily expression allowing a deeper gaze past who these people portray themselves to be.

There is a man. He looks alone. His torso slightly turned to the conversing couple to his left. His faded blue eyes constantly looking around him, only drawing to the fact of his lonesome even more. He sips his tea in small sips, and holds no book or hobby in his grips. I’ve been this man. I used to be so uncomfortable in my own solitary; drinking my tea so slowly so I would always have something to hold. If I wasn’t drinking tea, I would have my mind in my book; I couldn’t bare myself to be truly alone. I think we people have difficulty being alone because we think it gives an impression of weakness. Being alone doesn’t make us weak, it’s confidence. If this man eliminated the worry in his eyes, strengthened the weakness in his shoulders, he would come across as a different man.

There’s close to thirty people in this café. Amongst the young couple discussing finance, the elderly lady engrossed in the daily news, myself on my computer writing this, there is only one man in his own mind and company. He has no slump in the ‘S’ of his spine. He has no computer; has no book – only a mug stained black to accompany him at his table. He doesn’t seek companionship only  gazes upon the world beyond the glass. I don’t see him as weak because of this. If anything I look up to this man. We bring the discomfort of being alone upon ourselves, we’ve taught ourselves to seek the outward expression of popularity by wandering the hollow worlds within our screens. This is not how it should be. We have every right to be alone with our thoughts, I encourage myself to do just that everyday.

I find writing in a public setting like this inspiring.  Even though sometimes I can sit and get no words down, the individual beings and the stories that come with the bodies, can turn a viewed facial expression into a sentence of beautifully connected words.

The café in which I sit is full of regenerative life. Individuals finishing unfinished tasks, children bursting with curiosity, and a barista steaming a full jug of almond milk for my next latte.

 

 

 

I’ve done a bit of Rome-ing around.

Currently it is 16:10 and I am in the internet ‘cafe’ of my Roman hostel. I arrived in Rome on Monday roughly midday and since I landed on Italian soil, I have experienced a lot. Rather than posting weeks after like I normally would with a holiday such as this, I thought I would take a break from the heat and walking around to sum up my week – I leave tomorrow afternoon.

When I first got to Rome, the excitement that I thought would overwhelm me never came. I walked around that first afternoon convinced there was something wrong with me – I was in Rome and I was barely excited! I guess I had no idea what I was expecting. But over the course of the week, I have fallen in love with Rome as much as I did Barcelona when I was there last August.

The first night after roaming until my feet were aching, I sat under the Colosseum on fallen down marble pillars and just absorbed it. I was sitting under THE Colosseum and when it hit me I couldn’t wait to return the following morning to venture within it’s walls. My second day in Rome was full of everything that Ancient Rome could offer me – a Colosseum audio tour, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum; I was standing within the ruins of a city that Julius Caeser built; I walked down the streets that Romulus founded; the history was overwhelming. This part of my trip was definitely a highlight and it one of those things you just have to see when you’re visiting Rome.

A major highlight of the last 5 days I’ve spent in Rome has been the Trevi Fountain. The fountain made famous by film is beyond beautiful. I could have sat there all day if it wasn’t for all the tourists and the men trying to talk me into buying a Polaroid. The first time I came across the magnificent water feature was per chance on my first day of roaming. I didn’t really click what it was until I checked my guidebook and realized that it was the famous fountain I’d seen in the Mary-Kate and Ashley film I’d watched as a kid. I read the history and stepped down and turned my back to the fountain, and whist closing my eyes I threw €1 over my shoulder.  You will return to Rome. Good thing I didn’t throw two, cause afterwards I read that two coins means you’ll meet an Italian man, and the third means you’ll marry them – thanks, but no thanks. The second and third time I went to the fountain was with the intention of finding a highly recommended gelateria. I can honestly say that Il Gelato di San Crispino is the best gelato I have ever had – and this week I’ve had a fair amount, shh. As I ate the creamy honey, chocolate and caffé flavoured goodness in front of the fountain, I felt on top of the world.

Besides the beautiful tourist attractions – Vatican Museum, St Peter’s Basilica (highly recommend paying to climb up the Dome), Borghese Gallery, Pantheon etc – at 11.30pm on Wednesday evening I booked a spontaneous tour to Pompei. The next morning at 7am I arrived at Piazza del Popolo and departed with a bus load of people. The tour guides were amazing and had us laughing before we’d left Rome. The 3 hour bus ride to Napoli and the Ancient City of Pompei was full of Roman legend, culture and history of Italia. In Napoli we visited the National Archaelogical Museum which houses all the artifacts such as household items, paintings, and mosaics extracted from Pompei itself. This was amazing and made me extremely excited to see the Ancient City. After eating Neapolitan pizza for lunch (which is different to Roman pizza) and a history lesson on the food of Italy, we arrived at the long awaited city of ruins. I went into Pompei expecting a few ruins and was astonished at how much more there is to see. When they say a city, they mean a city; main streets, back streets, homes, mansions, graffiti, brothels, takeaway shops, restaurants, bathing house, amphitheatres etc etc. It was amazing, but heartbreaking at the same time. The clear day allowed us to see the looming Mt Vesuvius behind the city – constantly reminding us that a lot of people died there. It really is something I feel lucky to have seen and experienced with the local tour informing us of every small detail they’ve discovered. I recommend seeing it in your lifetime. After the drive home, stopping off on the way to taste test Limoncello, I returned back to Rome so energized and informed of everything Rome and Italy have to offer.

Today, my last full day in Rome, I took my tour guides advice and did nothing but meander. I tried Roman cuisine on the back cobble-stoned roads; paid perhaps a bit too much for a personally embossed Italian-made leather (refillable) notebook; I had the best cups of coffee; I soaked up the warm ‘winter’ sun in Piazzas.

Today I fell in love with Rome. Tomorrow I leave Roma, Italia and I’m not happy about it.

365 Days

This blog comes to you on a Thursday because today, the 28th January 2016, marks the one year anniversary of my move to London.

WP_20150114_005This time last year I was at Wellington Airport in New Zealand doing my best to put on a brave face and laugh off the pot of emotion that was my stomach. As the time till I had to board counted down, and as the gate call echoed throughout the airport, I was instantly overwhelmed. Even sitting here right now in one of my favourite cafes, I suddenly have a stomach full of butterflies just thinking about it. I got asked a lot before I left if I was excited; if I was nervous, but it wasn’t until that moment of having to go through security that my move became a reality; it completely sank in that within the hour I would be saying goodbye to my family, my friends, and my home of 18 years.994729_10208050194363073_7553208956738201222_n-2

There was a movie moment amongst the tears and hugs. My best-friend Hayley had been travelling around the South Island and her flight was due to arrive at the same time that my gate opened. It was getting nearer to having to go through security, and she still hadn’t arrived yet, but I insisted that I waited. My Mum was telling me that I would just have to go when I saw her at the opposite end of the waiting area – I dropped my bags and ran. As I ran, and as she ran towards me, we both had tears streaming down our faces. I was leaving my sister, closest friend, and a face that held memories from 5 years. No Spotify, now is not the time to play Yellow by Coldplay. Skip.

After saying the long awaited goodbye to Hayley, and finalising my farewell with hugs from my family, I walked away from the tearing faces behind me. I remember the lady at security looking at my red eyes and splotchy cheeks just talking at me because she knew if I went to speak I’d be an incontrollable mess. I think I was the only one in the waiting lounge in such a state. I put myself in the corner, crying my eyes out, attempting to drown out my thoughts with Cold Chisel playing deafeningly loud in my ears. Stepping on the plane I remember vividly telling myself repeatedly something my Dad repeated to me in the months leading up to my departure. It became my moving mantra, and it’s still something I tell myself often.

“There is no better feeling than getting on a plane and having no idea what is ahead of you.”

11891053_10207190203623842_8634745430585137083_nAs I travelled further away from New Zealand, and nearer to England, my sadness turned into impatient excitement; now that the hard part was over, I couldn’t wait to set foot in the city that would be my new home. I arrived at 12.30pm and I was out looking around the city until 10pm that night, with a grin so big I’m sure my parents could see it in NZ.

To think that this time last year I knew nothing about London, yet now I could give you directions to most places – bus numbers included.

365 days ago my home was New Zealand.

365 days ago I arrived in London and while wearing 5 layers I still went about silently complaining about how cold I was.

365 days ago I was terrified of stepping inside an Underground.  I had the biggest fear of going the wrong way. Even after staring at the directional signs – for what seemed like minutes on end – I convinced myself I would end up on the opposite side of London. I was scared of buses even more so; I didn’t use a bus until about my third month here.

365 days ago I knew no one in London. Today I am surrounded by people I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am to have. 365 days ago these people were strangers, today they’re amongst the most important people in my life.

PicMonkey Collage for blog.jpg

 

365 days ago I’d only dreamt of seeing places like Big Ben and the London Eye – now they’re on my doorstep. Not only have I seen these iconic places, I’ve been to Wales, road tripped around the south of England 11138083_878059408906967_4155009662216348277_nand visited Barcelona. I’m going to Rome in 3 days, and in June this year I’m going to Santorini; I’m sure there will be more too. Amongst my friends I’ve also been labelled the documenter/the photographer/the Instagram-er; what can I say? Memories are beautiful, but photos can often say so much more.

365 days ago I moved to London because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Sometimes you need to look at your life from a different perspective – what a better way than from the other side of the world? Today, I am a person with my passions rediscovered. I start university in 4 days studying something I love so much it feels like leisure. Not to mention I live in Europe, talk about opportunity.

365 days ago I was unsure of my purpose, who I was, and where I wanted to be in the years to come. This last year has been a year of realising what I love, who I want to surround myself with, and adventuring outside my comfort zone and beyond. Moving to London has been a scary but invigorating experience that has allowed me to grow in many ways.

365 days later, I live in London, my new home, and this has been the best year of my life (so far).

Thank you to everyone who has made this year so special. I love every single one of you. Thank you to my parents who have always encouraged me to live for myself.

img_1865

 

Lots of love, Kiwi Girl x

…living in London.

 

The Adventure of Planning Ahead.

I find excitement in planning.

Like anything, the lead-up usually is the most invigorating as life quickly becomes an adventure entirely built from anticipation. Planning for the unknown, and things you’ve never participated in, can come with nerves, but also helps to eliminate the unneeded stress and replaces it with happiness at its rawest form. Planning ahead is the closest you get to looking into the future, and by having this control you are the only one to thank, or blame, for the life you choose to lead.

At the moment I am fore thinking out my 2016; making an agenda with the likes of university and everything else I want my year to entail wrapped around the new priority. I have always been a motivated person to constantly be doing things; I moved overseas to experience a new life whilst adventuring to new places yet I start university whilst working full-time; if I have a day off I am out seeing something new, meeting a friend to write or talk with, or strolling down undiscovered streets. Through the filling in of journals, and setting plans in stone, I have the time to be excited for an adventurous year of getaways, my 20th, and the unknown.

IMG_1627.JPG

I find notebooks and planners a life saving collection of lines and boxes. My favourite make is Moleskine; the beauty and simplicity of Moleskine make it a hobby filling in the blank spaces; dedicating worthy time to people I love, journeys to new places, and allowing myself time to chase passions. Flicking forwards through my planners make me excited in knowing that the days ahead of me will not be wasted but highly productive.

When you finally make decisions you’re writing your story. The small adventures you partake in will mould you into a new and experienced person. Make most of the time set in front of you, before you become just another cookie on the tray.

In your mind plan out the valuable time ahead of you. Find a method of planning that works for you – a beautiful Moleskine diary, a calendar, or even post-it notes on your door. Use your method to prioritise your life but keep in mind that your time is to be spent on your terms; forget about societal norms and write a story you’re proud of.

 

Barcelona, Spain – I’ve been there, you know?

On the 23rd of August, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I was undertaking a short journey from London to the exotic and beautiful Barcelona. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain; settled on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s population is upwards of 1.6 million people.

My itinerary involved four solid days, and 5 nights, completely dedicated to exploring the city and experiencing the culture through spontaneous adventures. Instead of the expected diary style blog post about my time there, and because it was such an amazing holiday, I have decided to put together my top 4 favourite things about what, possibly, is one of my favourite cities I’ve seen so far.

1. SAGRADA FAMILIA

https://instagram.com/p/64hrsYKSv9/?taken-by=paigebolland

This is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen and experienced.

Sagrada Familia is an unfinished, Roman-Catholic church in the city of Barcelona; architectural design of Spanish catalan, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s design is beyond describable.  It’s a place I find so hard to explain to people, even to capture its unique beauty on film proved difficult. The church’s architecture includes beautiful facades, sky-high towers, and stained glass windows that cast a light onto the interior; creating a place of true peace and reflection. The interior roof is designed in such a way, that as you look up, you feel enclosed in a jungle. The feel of this church affected me in such a way, even sitting here now months later, I can’t help but smile and feel calm. I try to regularly meditate to centre my thoughts and encourage inner peace, so while I was at Sagrada Familia  I spent close to an hour of mediation, and the remaining time in complete silence. I was speechless. I did have an audio guide tour which helped me understand the space. I heard something said by Gaudi himself, that Sagrada is place where “people of all religions, any belief, can come together and meditate”. I was in this church for 4.5 hours, and even then, I didn’t want to leave. If you go to Barcelona, it’s well worth seeing and experiencing it’s power for yourself

2. EARLY-MORNING SOLO ADVENTURES, AND AIMLESS WANDERING.

https://instagram.com/p/61e0lsqSoH/?taken-by=paigebolland

I was lucky enough to be brought up by parents who believe in wandering and encourage attacking situations with careful spontaneity. There’s something very enchanting about Barcelona in the summer; long days, short nights and a warmth that draws you into dawn til dusk adventures. Every morning, being up before the sun had completely risen, came with a beautiful feeling of wanderlust. I didn’t want to be wasting a single second on sleep I could catch up on back in London. Stepping out of my hostel, being hit by a wall of warmth and fresh, coastal air, every morning was a new adventure that could end up anywhere. The aimless wandering resulted in coming across a beautiful cathedral named Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral. This cathedral was enchantingly beautiful. The most touching part of this cathedral was, after walking under the most beautiful stone archway, finding myself in this hidden square – the Cloister of the Cathedral – complete with the most exotic and cared for jungle like greenery. Here, there was also a pond, home to 13 white, prepossessing geese which represent the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred.

Another place I discovered was the Picasso Museum/Museu Picasso. Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist, with a name most people will come to recognise in their lifetime. He was a human with extraordinary talent, imagination and respect; seeing his art firsthand and hearing his life journey, was inspiring and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. Museu Picasso was established in 1963, and holds one of the biggest collections of Picasso’s work. I strolled around this museum, alone, with my headphones plugged into an audio guide. Here I found myself immersed in this new world of complete appreciation and awe for unadulterated talent.

3. PARK GÜELL

https://instagram.com/p/6w02U-KSov/?taken-by=paigebolland

Park Güell, also designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, was a place I 100% intended to visit. Originally designed to be a new housing development that would be more one with nature, it is now a showcase for the most unique designs of Gaudi’s mind. This park was beautiful to walk through, and as much as I immersed myself and enjoyed Gaudi’s work, the two most memorable things in this park I think to be less obvious. Within the borders of Park Güell, you can walk up and around to a cross perched on the edge of a hill. The view from this lookout point is spectacular – set up on a hill Gràcia, the park invites all to see over the beautiful City. From this angle Barcelona was a different kind of beautiful I’d seen before. Being so built up you could mostly only see rooftops, but the city is absolutely an urban gem. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of beholder, and for me, I stood there looking out over that city – smiling.

Park Güell, being a tourist destination with a usual 5 hour waiting time, is home to many buskers. There was one busker who caught my eye, or perhaps more appropriately, caught my ears. He had the perfect, shaded perch under a Gaudi walkway.  Sitting on a fold out chair, his CD and tip bowl at his feet, he smiled whilst playing the most beautiful spanish music. You could see it in his movements; the way he shut his eyes, and smiled as he perfected each verse; his passion for the music reached everyone in listening distance. I was enjoying this man’s music so much, I decided to buy his album and have a chat with him.  When he stopped to take a sip of water, my opportunity came. His name is Rafi Mora. Rafi has been playing in Park Güell for 22 years, and he says he probably will never stop. I bought a CD and he explained every track; where he recorded his music, who he played with, where the music originated – even informed me that a Kiwi man bought a copy a few months back. He truly was a beautiful souled, passionate man, and I still listen to that CD, close my eyes, and imagine myself being back there.

4. A CRUISE AT SUNSET, WITH LIVE JAZZ?

https://instagram.com/p/624HINqSsf/?taken-by=paigebolland

When you go to a coastal city, especially one like Barcelona, you have this deep longing to go out on the sea. The blue, sparkling waves are forever teasing you with every movement. On the second night, whilst walking near the harbour one day, I noticed a Sunset Jazz Cruise advertised. My friend and I decided that the next evening we would return and partake in what looked to be an amazing opportunity. We were right – being one of few cruises that actually left the harbour, we had amazing views accompanied by a live saxophonist and varying jazz music. The front of the catamaran was  netting, which meant once we were sat down at the front of the boat, we were left with the blue to be fully visible below. Drinking a beer with the warm setting sun radiating through my body,  looking out at the city of Barcelona, and hearing a melody of ocean waves and live jazz; I was in heaven. For a not so expensive cruise, it was one of the most enriching experiences.

I went to Barcelona in August, 2015. It is now November, 2015. I am dealing with some serious wanderlust.

Let’s go.

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

The Motion of Graphs

I haven’t always been a confident person, and I most definitely have days where my usual confident structure breaks away from itself. Quite often I try and analyse what confidence truly is, and why this complex demeanour fluctuates.

Confidence is technically described as:

“A feeling that is due to self-belief and acknowledgement of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

This word acknowledgement, at the heart of this definition, is what interests me the most about confidence. Throughout a discussion with a good friend (Instagram: simon_walsh14), an extremely interesting point was unearthed. I would like to share and discuss this. Confidence, as much as it is within oneself, is due to, and in majority because of, external stimuli. Therefore this acknowledgement may not necessarily be your own, but someone else’s acknowledging of your talents or exterior that creates confidence within yourself.

All individuals, admittedly or not, appreciate compliments as these are the words that assure us most; assure us that we are strong enough, good enough, beautiful or handsome enough; these structured words allow us to keep moving, and delay us from having time to descend and self-doubt.

After this new aspect of confidence was introduced to my already over-analysing brain, I was bemused at how Simon’s external stimuli opinion resonated within me. I always thought it was about self-belief and that you just have to accept and believe in who you are – this is definitely a part, but how can we do this without assurance from someone else. If we are the only ones convincing ourselves we’re strong enough, soon enough we say it to ourselves even when we are vulnerably weak. This self-belief and confidence then has the opportunity to radically weaken to self-doubt, self-doubt to anxiety.

Explaining how confidence turns to self-doubt and anxiety is hard to explain in precise detail. I have, however, experienced this feeling, so the easiest way to put this to word is to use an example from my life. Try and picture my words in the form of a graph on a page. The last 500 days of my life going horizontal, and the three notches going upward on the y-axis being anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. As my London dream began with saving and planning; I began midway somewhere near the level of self-doubt:

 ‘Will I be able to save in time?’, ‘Will I really go through with this?’ 

As the line progresses horizontally it also slowly begins to peak vertically towards the level of confidence; this came with the physical growth of sterling but also the kind words of commendation and encouragement from family and friends. These external stimuli pushed the line to level out for several months. These months were easy, I was so confident within myself and had sureness in my plan to move alone. Then the news of my departure became old amongst my family and friends, it became accepted that I was leaving, so discussions lessened. Negative and doubtful comments stopped my ability to move away from this doubt. Small, unintentional things people said – people doubting the extent of my planning or the level of accumulated savings – all made that line waver around self-doubt. The lack of encouragement and assuredness then caused my brain to self-doubt: forcing the line to descend. I was too ashamed to discuss these feelings with family and friends because I wanted to still appear like the brave being everyone described me as. This absence of conversation then allowed my brain to plummet towards anxiety. I began to have this gut-wrenching fear of failing. As the timeline sped on, the time until I was to leave New Zealand diminished in front of me. Conversations increased with the hype of 18-year old Paige leaving friends and family for a foreign place. This resulted in a vertically increased line levelled midway between self-doubt and confidence. I had assurance in my abilities but I still lacked complete confidence of success.  From those days, to now, my line of confidence has continued to fluctuate.

My line will continue on in that fluctuating motion. So will yours. Such is life.

Reading this blog you may think I’m trying to say that confidence is solely reliant on external compliments, but it most definitely is not. This external stimuli fact is purely a minuscule part of what makes our brains tick. Confidence comes from a range of things – from validation, self-acceptance for who we are, remaining mindful, grounded and humble, amid others. These are the things that increase or decrease our levels of confidence.

So think before you speak, you’re making a bigger impact than you might think.