Furnish the mind

22 years have passed since I started running around the globe. 22 years have passed since I fell in love with sunshine. 22 years have passed since I was given a shot at something I am very much not fit for. Life. 22 years of failing, winning, failing better, getting up and crawling with stardust at the end of my tongue. 22 years of looking for answers and realizing rules change every day. 22 years means 8036 days. Infinity of possibilities, swimming in sunshine pools, wasting youth on trivialities. C’est la vie, French people say with confidence, but is there a fear under their nonchalance? I love life with such a passion that it turned into a threesome with anxiety. I furnish and unfurnish my mind all the time. Nothing is ever constant. I smile, I laugh, and I cry, and crawl, and scream, and that’s the way I love life. I am 22 and I furnish my mind every day. Move me in. Move me out. In. Out. In. Out. I exhale and inhale life like nicotine. I have no addictions to make me interesting. No cigarettes in my mouth, no spilled wine on the floor, no. My addiction is life. I hold onto it with everything I have, even when it hurts. I am hungry for life, yet afraid to grasp it with both hands. I empty myself like a wine glass, and I look for answers, but none are to be found. I am 22 in human years, but barely 2 in star years. I still have a lot of growing up to do.

wine, life with wine, like like wine, drink your life
Drinking life like wine…

I have no fixed answers, but I learn every single day. Years ago, well before I abandoned this little blog, I used to write about things time taught me. Little lessons, just a few of them, for each year of my life. Let me continue the tradition. Let me tell you what I learned. Sharing is caring, they say. Let me share. Let me spill the tea while coffee is yet to be served.

roses, beautiful roses, birthday roses, find confidence, find love, find beauty in the world, find yourself, bloom, bloom baby bloom, growth
Grow proud, grow tall

22 things I learned during 22 years on the planet Earth

  • If you don’t furnish your mind, you will end up empty-headed   

Nobody will work on your mind for you. It is your responsibility to decorate your mind, water it, and let it bloom. It’s your responsibility to take yourself to parks, cinemas, theatres, bookstores, and cafes. It’s your own responsibility to fill yourself with meaning and find your purpose. If you don’t furnish your mind with new ideas, people and places, don’t act surprised when you feel empty. You put nothing there in the first place. That’s the lesson, which was very hard to swallow. I didn’t go out a lot, I didn’t read too many books, I didn’t take care of myself and spent time procrastinating, and yet I complained that I felt so empty inside. Well, I emptied myself every day but failed to fill myself with meaning. What did I expect? Maybe a miracle. Eventually, I understood my mistakes and started to refill myself again. Such a simple thing, yet it made all the difference.

  • If you don’t ask, the answer is always no

Fear makes your throat go numb, and you would rather run a marathon than ask a simple question. Asking feels impossible, I know. I have been there. I have felt that. I have asked. Did it feel like running into a giant tiger? It did. Did it pay off? Yes. Sometimes they said yes, sometimes they said no, but statistics are still in favor of asking. Not asking means 100% chance of a “no”.

  • Other people can’t fix you

Raise your hand if you have ever wanted somebody to make you feel good. Raise your hand if you ever wanted somebody to ease your anxiety. Raise your hand if they couldn’t. Raise your hand if it’d made you angry even if you’d known it shouldn’t. I am raising my hand higher with each new question. Your inner peace is your own responsibility. Don’t expect others to fix you. They can’t. You are the one appointed to the task.

  • Blaming others doesn’t fix problems

Again, your life is your own responsibility. Looking for solutions works better than looking for people to blame.

  • It is okay to cry

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes nothing is okay. Sometimes, sometimes lasts for days. It is okay to cry. Superman probably cried too behind the scenes. Everybody has their own kryptonite.

  • It is okay to be vulnerable

Opening up to other people isn’t against your survival instincts. It is okay to be vulnerable. We are not Ironmen, and we crack up like nuts at times. I wanted to be strong, so I never opened to anybody and bottled it all up, until I exploded within myself. I still struggle to talk about monsters, which creep under my bed. When I finally do, they start to drop dead, one by one. My friends know the best anti-monsters tricks, and now I understand it’s okay to be vulnerable.

  • It is okay to say no

When everybody wants a piece of you, it’s okay to say no. If you spend hours pleasing and helping everybody, you have no time to help yourself. It was a frustrating lesson to learn, but each day I am mastering the art of saying “no”. Surprisingly, it helps me to say “yes” to everything I love.

  • It is okay to take a break

Taking breaks helps your mind reset. When I take breaks, I can be more productive, and that’s everything I want.

  • Good memories mean more than good shoes

I decided my body doesn’t need too many sparkling dresses, but my mind needs more memories, so I go to the cinema, drink coffee in beautiful cafes, and travel to places I know only from maps, instead of buying things I don’t need. The high of buying new objects wears off soon, but memories you make stay with you.

  • Love is not always sparkly and comfortable

I blamed fairy tales and romantic comedies for my inaccurate image of love as a beautiful adventure with a happy ending, but at the end of a day, I am the one responsible for my own perceptions. From experience and observation, I realized love is walking through the storms, and it hurts. All comparisons with roses started to make sense. Just like roses, love has thorns ready to leave you bleeding.

  • Honesty is the best policy

If you are honest, you don’t need to pretend or keep records of your lies. It saves you time, makes you all the right friends and keeps bullshit out of your way.

  • People leave – don’t hold it against them

It’s okay to change your mind. People leave because they change. How can they promise you forever? Their present versions can’t promise you the future, because it’s not within their grasp yet. Their future versions may not want to give you forever. People leave, but it doesn’t mean they never cared. Maybe their feelings changed, but it doesn’t mean they were insincere. Many people, who were in my life 5 years ago became just distant strangers. For a brief moment, they were, however, part of my world, and I would rather remember all great adventures we had. New seas and new people will come along the way. This adventure goes on and on and on.

  • Everything is in the timing

I want everything served right now, but some things come delayed, and very often for all right reasons. Sometimes what we want is not what we need at a given moment, and everything is in the timing. Had I moved to my dream city after graduating from high school, I wouldn’t have traveled as much as I did, and I wouldn’t have grown into myself the way I did. First I needed to fall so I learned how to fly. Everything was in the timing.

  • To fail is to learn

Failing is neither comfortable, nor easy, nor pleasant. It is, however, necessary. With each mistake we make, we become a little wiser. It’s okay to make mistakes provided that we learn from our failures.

  • Traveling heals the mind

Strolling down the French beaches, eating churros in Barcelona and dancing late at night in Irish pubs helped me to heal my broken mind more than anything else did. The sudden exposure to new cultures makes us change our perspective. I learned to enjoy a moment, however bad everything seems, in Ireland. The Irish know a lot about the struggle, but they choose to listen to music, drink their beers and talk to both friends and strangers. They seize the moments, while they still can. I aspire to let myself grow, despite storms, just like Ireland and the Irish. It always rains in Ireland, and from the rain, Ireland has the most beautiful shades of green. Future is emerald.

  • Seaside evenings and happiness are closely related

Sea can take your pain away, and wash it away. Nothing brought me as much peace as daily strolls down the beach. Both in Ireland and France, the sea was my best friend, and I sincerely hope it is a friendship for life.

  • Everybody has something to teach you

From elderly ladies, you met in hostels in Cork to little girls, who you babysit in the evenings, everybody has something to teach you. To spread kindness, to be more empathetic, to try Nutella in a new way, to make the coolest slime… there is so much to learn from everybody you meet.

  • Ginger is the real superhero

Before I befriended ginger, I used to be sick every month or so. Colds and sore throats were everything I dreaded, yet anticipated when the fall started.  Lemon and ginger then knocked to my doors, and since then colds seem to – not to jinx it! – stay away from me. Say yes to ginger (and lemon!), and you will understand they are powerful allies to have.

  • You can find friends in the strangest places

Hostels, pubs, parks, airports, internet forums – you never know when you might make a good friend. Be careful enough to stay safe, yet open enough to explore human connection without restrictions and prejudices.

  • Age is just a number

You can befriend anybody, and anybody can befriend you. Age is just a number if people understand each other. Age is just a number if you want to learn to dance. To love again. To swim. To make flower crowns. To cook. To live. Age is just an excuse not to do what you fear, but what you fear is what you need. You’re too old to always let fear control you, no matter how old you are.

  • Irish pubs redefine awesomeness

If you have never been to the Irish pub, try to go sometime. Yes, people get drunk there, but the point is to socialize and relax. Drinking is just an addition, so the atmosphere is wonderful. I’m not the life of the party, yet Irish pubs stole my heart.

  • Hope is the best friend to have

The best is yet to come. However bad the situation is, tomorrow is a new day. Eventually, it will get better. Hope is the best friend to have because there is comfort in it. Always hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and you will be good to go.

leaf crown, make it happen, life, crafts, leaf crafts
Make your own crown…

I can’t tell you how to live a beautiful life, because that’s something I yet to figure out. What I can tell you, however, is that all the good things are sparked by action. If you never get up to change your life, your life will never change. Furnish your mind with new ideas, people, places, memories and make yourself into a home you can be comfortable returning to. That way you will always have something to hold onto. My mind isn’t homely yet, but there is more than an empty chair there. Decorating has started. Now I will let the plants grow. Oxygen is never out of style, not in the world, which suffocates people a little bit too much. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I will keep mine crossed for you. 

Furnish your mind and bloom!

Love,

Jessie

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Connect! Connect! Connect!

“City of stars, are you shining just for me?” I am whispering with Ryan Gosling, as I wonder through the streets of Warsaw. The city blinds me with the sea of lights, and people are always too close, but I smile. I smile, and I don’t fake it. I don’t smile on purpose – my smile is an independent creature, and it does as it wishes. I’m completely and undeniably appalled by an incredible variety of life that surrounds me, and I can’t help but smile. My soul is dancing like crazy, and it wants everybody to know that it’s in awe. I meet people, discuss life, rethink concepts I was sure about, read books, then, read, even more, listen to French music, cook and then repeat everything. I look at my life and I like what I see, and everything’s perfect. Everything’s perfect until society comes to destroy my peace of mind. Another song on the radio tells me I’ll only feel whole when I connect with somebody, and I start to question if it’s perfectly okay to feel good on my own. I hear “connect! connect! connect!” everywhere and I wish I could fade away because that’s one thing I’ve always been terrible at. Connecting.

Over years I’ve met numerous wonderful people with beautiful souls and sharp minds, but have I ever established a true connection? I might have, I might have not. I never know since eventually I always retreat into myself. That’s my only safe harbour. I know Superman would’ve never willingly admitted kryptonite was his weakness, but I’ll be bold. For once, I’ll be bold and I’ll say it aloud. Ladies and gentlemen: I’m afraid of attachment more than anything on this Earth. I don’t believe in forever, and I’ve seen far too many people crawling in the name of love, romantic or platonic, to believe it’ll ever give me peace. From time to time I meet people who make me think I’m not lonely anymore, but it’s perfect illusion. Eventually, I am always lonely. No matter how to paraphrase it, I am never completely at ease within my soul. I am always looking for something to bring magic into life and even with crowds around me, I can feel the taste of anticipation on the end of my tongue. The anticipation for everything I am yet to explore, discover, uncover, savour. I don’t attach myself to people. I attach myself to ideas. Only ideas are timeless.  I care about people but there are not like oxygen I need to breathe. It doesn’t mean they are not dear to my heart: it simply means they are not my heart. Maybe someday I’ll take a step back and feel whole with somebody else by my side. For now dear society, please let me connect with myself. I am not scared to be lonely. I am scared to be disconnected from myself. Ultimately, befriending myself… that’s an adventure of the lifetime.

Why things you are scared of can help you the most in life… If you let them

pinterest%2fblog-why-things-you-are-scared-of-can-help-you-the-most-in-life

Once upon a time, in a seemingly small world, there was a lass, who was afraid of everything. Everything around her seemed so much bigger than herself, and she came to think she could never be brave. She dreamed of a glorious future, but never really believed it was within her reach, so she never tried to grasp it with her hands. She waited for somebody to come and save her from herself, but nobody ever did.

Drunk on the idea that life would happen to her only if somebody else taught her how to live, she signed off the papers to have no responsibility for her life. She blamed fate, genetics and stars for who she wasn’t. She read a lot, and once she stumbled upon a certain quote.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

 

She thought it was nicely written and moved on with her life. The fault was still in her stars, or so she claimed. She didn’t know where she was heading to, but everything was lined to be rather… unsurprising. As it is often with plans and expectations, nothing went out like planned. Worse, it turned out to be completely opposite to whatever she had planned for herself before. She was kicked out of her fairytale and failed herself like never before, so she didn’t really know what kind of story would she fit in. She started doubting if she was supposed to be in any story at all. Now she was a lass, who was afraid of everything and knew nothing, not even herself. At first, she only mourned who she was. What she had. What she lost. Days were passing by very quickly, and she felt stuck. She wasn’t the old herself, but neither the new one. She was nothing, and she longed to finally become something.

Desperate, she took a step and went into the unknown because the alternative would be drowning in the emptiness, and she was never  a good swimmer. After one step, there was another one, and another one and another one… Suddenly she discovered than thinking of the next step is scarier than actually taking it. She was fully entering the unknown and it left her breathless. Breathless of awe and new found joy, not fear and panic.

The first stop of the unknown was France, and she found there way more than she had expected. Sure, they had a great cuisine, beautiful architecture, and a lovely language, but what she had found there was far more valuable to her – she found her peace. She was living with a family she had never met before, taught English to their children, and walked by the beach every day. The North Sea was cold, gloomy and whimsical, but it brought her peace, and joy. The family she lived with was full of love and trust, and it was a remedy to all of the world’s wrongings. She wasn’t terribly scared anymore. She still felt fear, but it didn’t paralyse her like it used to. The sea took away the fears and sadness, which weighed her down, and she came back home slightly changed. She met the most wonderful people and saw the loveliest places, so it made her rethink if the fault was really just in her stars.

Sometimes The North Sea decides to be less gloomy :)
Sometimes The North Sea decides to be less gloomy 🙂

The home was sweet and safe, but the concept of fear and stars kept crossing her mind all the time. She knew that growth was outside of her comfort zone, and her comfort zone was terribly small. Travel was a way to go. She decided to become an au pair again. Being with children was like relearning everything you knew about the world, and she sought to learn  it anew. 2 planes and countless of thoughts later she was in Catalonia.

Catalonia was vibrant, lively and full of opportunities. She tried food she swore she would never try before, met people from all walks of life, saw places so different to what she was used to and realised… she was doing it. She was living the life she actually enjoyed. It wasn’t perfect, but that wasn’t the point. It was the life she loved, and somehow it was enough. The people she had met, the family she had lived with, they made her rethink everything she knew. She stopped looking for fixed answers. Sometimes they were none, and that was perfectly fine.

A year before she said she would never learn to cook, since she was hopeless at it. In Catalonia, she cooked a meal she’d never done, and it turned out fine. Nobody died from food poisoning, the taste didn’t cause the outburst of desperate cry, and people were quite happy with it. The craziest thought came across her mind: maybe she actually could. She could learn how to cook. If she could cook, maybe she could do other things, too. Suddenly the knowledge that maybe, maybe she could do it all opened her eyes, and she finally let the light in. Poor stars got a deserved break since the fault wasn’t in them. Not anymore.

into-the-unknown
Catalonia has so much to offer than just Barcelona

 

Once upon a time, in an incredibly big world, there was a lass, who discovered that fear is not an obstacle, but a step in her way. She understood it was okay to be scared as long as you don’t let it keep you out of the game. She took a breath and divided into the unknown, and it wasn’t so scary anymore. Steinback’s words echoed in her head, as she took a plane back to home, sweet, home.

‘And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.’

 

Never had any sentence hit home as much as that one back then. Without everything always planned, without a desire to be always perfect, she could be good. She could try new things even if she failed at them in the beginning, she could be silly and human, and she could be simply… happy.  In the end, nothing had ever helped her more than her fears did. All she had to do was to listen to them instead of running away, and she did listen. Finally. Then, she lived happily ever after… Wait, shh, the wrong ending! In fact… the story’s to be continued.

                                                                          ***

Hi, guys! As you probably have already guessed the story is about me. I haven’t blogged for so long because I needed some time to rediscover myself. I am back now, and I am full of new ideas, so if you still want to stay with me, I would love you to visit Paper Coffee Store and enjoy some paper coffee with me. Some changes are definitely coming, but I am still thinking about their taste, shape and meaning. Stay tuned, and May Force be with you!

 

Have a lovely day,

Jessie

 

Au revoir, July: the ultimate favorites of the month

How fast the time passes by! It’s already 7th of August and I feel like I’ve just said goodbye to July. It was a nice month for me, full of relaxing and family time, and these moments take a special spot in my heart. As August has started, I will be switching things up a little bit, and going to Spain to be an au pair. It’s exciting, and a bit terrifying and another level of cool, too. I’m not sure whether I will be able to post a lot, but I’ll try to, so stay tuned! Coming back to the topic, it would be nice to sum July up, so when I am old and grumpy, I can get back to days when I was younger and less grumpy and you know, actually still enjoying things.  Just kidding, hopefully, I’ll be always young at heart! Anyway, you might like some of the things I loved last month, so let’s give it a shot!

blog post - au revoir July - absolute favorites of the month by Paper Coffee Store

 

Favorite book of the month

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I read 5 books in July, but this one was definitely the best among them. It tells a story of the world torn by hatred, chaos, and violence, where a very unlikely friendship is formed. Two boys, divided by everything – religion, war, opportunities – become friends and try to understand what put a wall between them, and why the worlds of both of them are nothing alike, yet so similar. It’s a wonderfully crafted reminder of tragic history between Jews and Germans, partly written by the history itself, and because of that even more touching and meaningful. It acknowledges the power of hatred, and the damage it had done, reminding us that if hatred is watered, it spreads like a disease and can’t be easily stopped. As I was reading it,  it felt like exploring a whole new universe of ugliness and beauty, blended together in a painfully realistic way, bringing World War II to life. It was a worthwhile read and made me think about how dangerous it is to let history fall into oblivion, not learning its lesson once and for all. I would recommend you to read it if you look for something beautiful, meaningful and educative since it easily combines all of these traits.

Favorite movie of the month

Me before you

To say I  had been excited to see this movie since the trailer came out… would be a little understatement. I actually watched the trailer at least 20 times, and oh my, each time I grew more and more obsessed with it. I decided to read a book, since I’m always team books, no matter how much I like movies, and… I fell in love and knew there was no coming back! If the movie was anything other than “pretty good” I would be infinitely disappointed. The movie – and the book for that matter – tells a story of Lou Clark, a young lady who’s about to lose her job and a secure place in her comfort zone, and Will Traynor – a man who had it all before a tragic accident put him into a wheelchair. These two have no idea that their worlds and lives are going to come into fusion, and nothing will be the same ever again. It may sound like a cheesy romance movie, but it is not. For me that it’s a movie about leaving your comfort zone, fighting for yourself and seeing all beautiful places you could go if you only dared to try. It’s a beautiful journey from what you are to what you could be, and the romance background is a nice attachment to the story of two people who bring the best in each other,  despite being put together by chance. I found portraits of main characters believable, and I liked the movie very much, so I would definitely recommend it to you, guys. Here’s the trailer:

 

Favorite app of the month

Keep by Google

 If you love making lists and notes this app is definitely something for you! It’s free, easy to use and doesn’t take up much space on your phone. A+ from me.

Favorite podcast of the month

Singing bones

If you love fairytales and would love to dig deeper and learn more about their (dark) roots… this is a podcast for you! In each episode, we learn new things about our favorite fairytales and explore a whole new way to look at them, too. The podcast runs biweekly and each episode is 20 minutes long. Must-listen! 

 

That would be all for today. Next month I will probably add some new items to the list, so the format’s not fixed yet. Have a wonderful week and until the next time!

What are your favorites of July? Let me know in comments! 

Have a lovely day,

Jessie

How to avoid burn-out when you’re overloaded

“Breathe in, breathe out, in, out, in”… I keep saying in my mind after glancing at my to-do list. I’m not in the Hunger Games, but suddenly I feel like the paper in front of me did put me into the middle of the game. The list’s not as long as The China Wall, but it’s getting there. Ambition isn’t short list-friendly, is it?

“You have as many hours a day as Beyonce, so sorry, no excuses” I remind myself, but my anxiety doesn’t like logic, so it ignores the hour part and replies with “she just woke up like this”.

Source/copyrights: giphy.com
Source/copyrights: giphy.com

I keep doing everything I can to… focus on something that is not on my list. Suddenly, all that is left of my beautiful productive plans in the evil list that burned me down. All jokes aside, the list could say “It’s not me. It’s you.” and that would be truth. Everything lies in the mind, and mine wants to defeat me.

Some people are more prone to burn-out than others, but it can probably happen to anyone at any stage of life. It has happened to me before, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty. The more ambitious you are the more burn-out can hurt you, but generally, it’s like a furious, betrayed woman – up to no good.

Since I had to learn how to avoid burn-out and make my life a bit easier here are my tips on how to avoid burn-out when you’re overloaded!

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  1. Decide what’s important for you

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, from my experience, it is not. We are bombed with tons of different content and possibilities, and sometimes it gets difficult to choose what we want to focus on when everything looks interesting. As you might know, I love podcasts, and I subscribe to many of them. The problem is that each and every of them is interesting, so I end up wanting to listen to every episode. Is it realistic, smart and achievable? Absolutely not, because I have an actual  life to live.

How I solved my little problem? I chose what was the most important for me, and decided to listen to other podcasts if I have free time.

 

       2. Step back from your work when you feel overwhelmed

A 20-minute walk, a few minutes of break to have your cup of tea or a quick yoga session can make wonders for your well-being and ease the tension within you that keeps building up, up, up with every extra thing to work on. It’s better to spend half an hour relaxing than hours fighting with anxiety that’s likely to appear if you don’t let yourself breathe. As they say: a stitch in time saves nine.

   3. Take breaks

Even if you don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s good to take breaks at least every hour. The highly recommended Pomodoro technique includes 25 minutes of work, and then 5 minutes of a break, but I know people who like an hour of work + a 10-minute break system more. Do whatever works for you, but don’t ignore the importance of breaks, because you risk that your brain will ignore you later.

    4. Prioritize

Let’s say you have already decided what’s important for you. Good job, but let’s not stop here! Important things probably also have their own hierarchy of importance. Choose the ultimate queen of your “very-important” list and prioritise everything accordingly to boost your productivity.

   5. Think long-term

When you get overloaded with work and want to give it all up think about your ultimate, long-term goal rather than the emotions you experience in the given moment. It will help you to get some perspective on the situation. Also, if you push yourself too hard when you know you’re on the edge of meltdown think of consequences. Will one day of work make a big difference to your long-term goal or can you afford to unwind for a moment? Weight pros and cons and make your decision carefully.

6. Motivate yourself

It’s easy to get burn-out when the goal we work towards seems too distant, almost impossible. It’s worth to ask yourself  these questions: why did I start in the first place? How will I feel when I have accomplished the goal? It may remind us about the ultimate reason behind it all and work as a motivator. Youtube motivational videos or Instagram quotes could also do the job, even though personal motivational will always beat them, since it’s… ours.

7. Reward yourself for your hard work from time to time

A little reward for your hard work might reduce the stress connected to your workload. Allow yourself to go out with your friends, buy that dress or see this place you saw on the map only. It will give your life more colors, and probably inspire you to keep going.  Balance’s everything.

8. Leave some space for mistakes

Perfection’s a good friend of burn-out since they’re closely connected. The need to be always 100% perfect drains your energy like a professional energy vampire. It’s nearly impossible, or at least extremely hard, to always be 100% productive. Luckily here comes 80/20 rule. It’s very popular all over the internet and applies to different areas of life. I remember the model Miranda Kerr saying that she uses 80/20 rule in keeping fit, so it’s universal. The rule is simple: for 80% of times you’ll stay on track, the remaining 20% is your space for mistakes. This way you won’t beat yourself up every time you aren’t less than 100% efficient.

 

Here are all my tips for avoiding burn-out, but I thought you might like to see my ultimate 12 ways to unwind. Let me know if they work for you too, and feel free to write  your own suggestions in the comment section, since sharing (your knowledge) is caring. 🙂 

 

Go to new placesTry a new hobbyMeet new peopleAdopt a puppyEat healthy

 

Remember you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and now also on Snapchat – papercoffeestr! 

May productivity be with You,

Jessie

 

39 awesome free resources for learning French language & culture!

Have you ever been preparing for something so carefully and thoroughly that you ended up having no time to actually take action? I have! I love planning very much because you see – I love chaos, but only in art. My desk, lists, plans need to be organised, and before I do something, I like to have a plan. This is why I haven’t got down to French yet, but I have made quite a long lists of resources useful for learning. If learning French is a battle, then… well, I have my army now!

If you want to learn French, but haven’t had time to find resources or you are just looking for new material to spice things up with your studying… this may be a post for you!

The post will be divided into 5 main categories for better navigation. 3,2,1… Ladies and gentlemen, I have a pleasure to show you my ultimate list of 37 resources for learning French language and culture!

*Note: some of the resources I listed aren’t strictly language related, but rather cultural, showing you France and French culture, what I think could be a great motivation in any language studies!

39resourcesforlearningfrench

Websites & Apps

There are plenty of websites and apps for learning French, but I’ve chosen to list only these I can vouch for in 100% because I have used them for a long time. The list will be probably updated every now and then,  so it’s likely to get longer!

Duolingo

Good for: building your vocabulary, learning grammar and pronunciation. It’s available both as a website and as an app. Fun, and easy way to get started with foreign languages!

Memrise 

Good for: building up your vocabulary, learning grammar, revising words you’ve already learnt. There are plenty free vocabulary boards to choose from, my first choice was: “Learn French for Polyglots” and so far I’ve liked it a lot. Available both as a website and as an app.

Anki

Good for: building up your vocabulary and revising words you’ve learnt. Its formula is very minimalistic, but this is what makes it effective for many people. Boards I’ve downloaded and liked: 5000 Most Common French Words and French 10000 sentences (easiest to hardest). Available as a program and an app.

Lang-8

Good for: practising your writing skills. The formula is easy: you write a post and get it checked by a native speaker or somebody who’s good at your target language. In return, you check works of people learning your native language. Full cooperation and a nice way to improve your writing skills!

Lyrictranslate.com

Good for: anyone who loves music! You can access the translations of your favorite French songs. Helpful in improving your listening skills and  learning new words, plus the music is said to be effective in teaching you new words, too.

Lyricsgap.com

Good for: music fans! The website’s all about typing words of the songs you’re listening to so it definitely helps to improve your listening skills + pronunciation, too.

Lyricstraining.com

Good for: anyone who loves music! You type the words to songs you hear, so you definitely exercise your listening skills.

Yokee Karaoke (App)

Good for: anyone who loves singing! Of course, it’s also a killer tool for improving your pronunciation in a fun way! I’m trying to learn “Andalouse” by Kendji Girac, and though I’m not the best singer, I enjoy it very much. 🙂 

 

Youtube

I’ve always loved Youtube and I always will. Since I’ve stumbled upon its educational side thanks to John Green, I’ve been using it to become smarter, and honestly… this is probably one of my favorite ways of learning. I decided to give it a try with languages too, and it works very well for me. Below there’s a list of 6 channels for French learners that you might like:

Comme une Française

Good for: everyone who is interested in French culture. You can find out how not to behave in France or what kind of candy French people like to buy, to name a few topics discussed on the channel. With new videos every week,  it’s a nice addition to a learning routine, plus the host is pretty amazing, too.

Alexa Polidoro

Good for: learning grammar. Alexa’s channel is full of many useful videos, including vocabulary ones, but grammar videos probably make her stand out the most. She has published tons of them, so her channel’s definitely helpful when it comes to grammar learning. She has also made a great playlist for learning French pronunciation. Definitely worth subscribing!

French from beginners to advanced

Good for: everything and for every French learner. This channel is just so full of learning material that it’s good for everything. Grammar, vocabulary – everything you could wish for… you’ll find there! Honestly speaking it’s probably one of the best language channels on Youtube if it not the best one. The amount of free material is just outstanding. A+ isn’t enough to rate it.

Francais Authentique

Good for: improving your listening skills and getting used to “authentic” French. It’s not exactly suitable for beginners since it’s only in French, but advanced and intermediate speakers could make use of it, so this is why I decided to include it here. Beginners… we can save it for later – when we master French a little bit more!

Learn French with French Pod101.com

Good for: improving your listening skills and building up your vocabulary. With shorts videos published every week this Youtube channel can be a nice addition to a regular learning routine.

Francais avec Pierre

Good for: building up your vocabulary and comprehension skills. One of the nicest and most fun language channels out there.

Learn French with Pierre

Good for:  grammar practice, building up your vocabulary, enhancing your listening skills. 

Podcasts

As you might know, I strongly believe that podcasts are excellent resources for becoming smarter and learning in general. I subscribe to many podcasts and listen to them only daily basis. Since they also work for learning languages I thought I would share some of them with you! Note: I listen to them on my phone using PodcastAddict app, but you can also listen to podcasts online via links I provided in this post.

Language  orientated podcasts: vocabulary, grammar, listening, pronunciation 

Coffee Break French

Real life French: French for beginners

Learn French by Podcast

Learn French with daily podcasts

 

Language + Culture

French etc >> French songs

Talk in French podcast

Instagram

Instagram has been gaining popularity for some time now, and it is definitely here to stay. Aside from being an excellent resource for fashion, beauty, and fitness lovers… it’s also quite a nice platform for learning! Instagrams posts added to your timeline don’t take much time, but it’s always that one word you’ve seen or that one sentence you’ve stumbled upon and you’re ahead of yourself. You can also explore French culture on Instagram, and for me, it’s a great motivational tool!

Language: tips, vocabulary, grammar

French journal

It’s all about the French

French everyday

Lyra French

Talk in French

Frencheezee

Frenchlessons_Paris

All french grammar

French_by_Agathe

Culture & France in photos

French moments

Visit la France

Top France photo

 

Facebook

Facebook is probably the most powerful social network of today’s world, so its presence on my list doesn’t need any explanation. Of course, it’s a dangerous friend of procrastination, but if you don’t let it befriend you too much – it’s all good!

Language & Language tips

FluentU French

Learn French with French Today

Francisation

Culture

My French Neighbour

The Good Life France

Feels Like Home in Paris

 

That would be my full list of free French resources! I hope it will come handy to you. Let me know in comments what you think about the list and what would you add there – your feedback is always helpful! 🙂

What are your favourite ways to learn languages? What languages are you learning right now? I would love to hear your stories!

Have a lovely day,

Jessie

 

 

Early days of Paper Coffee Store & The Liebster Award

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is a little bit different  than usual and off my normal schedule, but it’s good – shaking our routines up from time to time gives life some spice! Scheduling spice, at least…. 🙂 I’m happy to tell you that  I was nominated for The Liebster Award by lovely Ashley from Ashley Lilly Blog. Thank you for the nomination, Ashley! Before I move on to The Liebster Award’s protocol, I thought I would share with you the origins of my blog and its name.

BLOGPOST-19.06.2016earlydays

I started the blog back in 2015. It was June, and I really felt the need to have something of my own. Something that would belong to me, and would bend under the pressure of my little thoughts just like wax. I am not constant with my feelings, desires, and hopes and I tend to scrap my projects before they have a chance to grow, so I didn’t really think it would last long. Normally, it never did. I had a blog when I was 12 or 13 and never wrote more than 2 posts. It didn’t really matter to me, though, since I needed to make something out of my enthusiasm. This is how I started my blog.

Everything comes alive when you name it. Names can consist of millions of shades and meanings. I was looking for something that would fit the idea of what I wanted to share with the world. The question was… what did I want to share with the world? At that time, the answer was… everything. I wanted to talk about millions of things I loved and hated, desired and avoided, and that’s when the cup of coffee gave me an idea. Back when I was still in high school, I used to meet in a cafe with my friend every Thursday. We called our meetings “Coffee Thursdays” and we were talking about everything and nothing for hours. Starting from profound truths of the universe, ending on what kind of dress would be perfect for the prom. This is what I wanted for my blog. The depth and everyday simplicity, everything and nothing, just as if I was talking to my friend in that little, lovely cafe. Since words have always been linked to paper and ink in my mind, I thought of the little, old-fashioned store with books and paper… You know, the kind that always enchants young romantics in the movies, and makes you feel like you are in the Wonderland… the kind of store that slowly dies out, replaced by cheaper, better-equipped shops on the other side of the street. I wanted people to feel  like they came to the old store like this, where they could enjoy words and find them helpful, just like coffee. Dots connected and voila… Paper Coffee Store came to life.

Now that you know my little story, let’s move on to… The Liebster Award! It always puts a smile on my face to write posts like this. It’s a pleasure to be nominated, Ashley! To find some great poetry, and more, head to Ashley’s blog Ashley Lilly Blog and show her some love! Thanks for the nomination, Ashley.

Six rules of The Liebster Award: 

  1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you
  2. Answer 11 questions the blogger gives you
  3. Write 11 facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 5+ other bloggers
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer
  6. Let them know you nominated them

Now it’s high time I answered Ashley’s questions…

1-What was your favorite childhood toy?

Oh boy, that’s a tough question, because I can’t remember liking any of my toys more than the other one! Maybe I did, but there’s no memory inside my head to confirm it. When I was 18, though, I bought a teddy tiger in the market, and I swear I love this toy very much. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, but my inner child’s still alive, and I have no regrets. I’ve always loved tigers and wanted to be like them: strong, proud to stand out, wild and not chained by opinions of other people. My Tiger Toy is my favorite tiger boy, and I admit it without shame!

2-Who is your role model?

My mom and my grandma – because of their kindness, Scott Francis Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway – because their words hold magic, Taylor Swift – because she knows how to turn negativity into Top 5 hit and can narrate a song well, John Green – because he makes education easier to access and that’s a beautiful way of making a change, Malala – because she fights for what she believes in, and every single strong woman, who doesn’t feel a need to justify herself, because this is who I want to be.

3-What gives you hope when you’re going through a hard time?

My family. My mom really stands by my side, even if she doesn’t understand why I feel the way I do or act a certain way. Also,  motivational videos, because they work for me. Most of all, though… walks. I really have to walk things out, very literally, to feel better. After every terrifying physics lesson in high school – the teacher was very scary inside the classroom – I had to walk home. I couldn’t take a bus because I was too anxious to do so, so I was just walking and walking, 5 or 6 kilometers, until I was home. Suddenly I felt better. Walking things out is still my best remedy.

4-What’s a random act of kindness you’ve witnessed or received?

One time I was late to the bus station, and when I caught the bus last minute and wanted to pay  for a ticket, the bus driver told me he only accepted coins. Sadly, I only had cash in larger nominals, so I couldn’t pay. The friendly lady sitting close to the driver gave me coins to pay for my ticket. It was definitely random, but an amazing act of kindness, since I didn’t have to wait 2 hours for another bus! Thank you, the friendly lady, I still remember.

5-If you could go on vacation with any famous person, who would it be?

If dead people count, then Fitzgerald because he’s my favorite writer! If only alive people count, then Nina Dobrev, because she always goes on these fun road trips, and that’s my idea of the perfect vacation!

6-What have you learned about yourself in the last year?

Mostly: I’ll never be picture perfect I’ve always wanted to be, but it’s okay. The second thing? I am scared more often than I would like to admit. I fear so many things that the list would never end if I made one. It’s okay to be afraid, as long as we conquer our little fears, though, and that’s what I’m doing now. One more thing: I’ve learned I can actually stay committed because the blog and I have been going less or more steady for a year now!

7-What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas! I can eat as much as I want, and spend so much time with my family! Also, I love buying presents. Getting presents feels nice, but the thrill of choosing presents for people I care about is something I love.

8-If you could have the power to turn into an animal, which animal would you choose?

Tiger. There could be no other answer. There is something gracious, yet dangerous about this animal. It’s strong, proud and doesn’t let fear rule his life. This is everything I aspire to be.

9-What used to scare you that you are no longer afraid of?

Failure, and the unknown. I can’t say I’m 100% unafraid of both of them, but I’ve made such a great progress that I could say I’m close to that. Also, I’m not scared of people leaving me anymore. People in my life changed, yet I’m still okay. 

10-Do you prefer having lots of alone time or lots of time with other people?

I’m an introvert, so me-time is what I need the most in my life.  I love being alone, just me, my thoughts and a cup of coffee. From time to time, I crave company, so I would say – everything in moderation.

11-What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?

Probably my social projects and… the fact I’ve got back on my feet and got my life together after everything was filled with darkness, self-doubt and restlessness when  the image of myself I created and wanted to live up to… broke crashed in two. 

Now 11 facts about me…

  1. I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m that kind of a girl, who wants to write love letters, dance in the rain, go stargazing to the local park and have a lovely lunch at midnight, just because stars never go out of style. I’ll do all of that when I find Gilbert to my Anne. Fingers crossed!
  2. My favorite song ever is “Crying Lightning”  by Arctic Monkeys. No other song speaks to me as much as this one. The 2nd and 3rd one would be “Vienna” by Billy Joel and “Same old love” by Selena Gomez.
  3. When I was 10 I wanted to be an archeologist.  After that I discovered writing and I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since.
  4. My dream travel destination’s Scotland! I fell in love with its raw beauty when I saw “Outlander” for the first time and I’ve been obsessed ever since.  P.s: “Simply Scottish” podcast is definitely too good to miss out on it!
  5. I struggle with anxiety and mood swings. Sometimes my mind turns against me and feeds on my fears. We’re slowly becoming friends now.
  6. I am easily smitten by people, places or things. I can easily become fascinated with something or somebody,  but  it usually fades away quickly.
  7. I love English! Its words, sounds, the way it flows – English’s magical to me.
  8. I asked a stranger (at that time) to be my date for the prom party because  he reminded me of a book character… Yes, I’m obsessed with books. 😀 P.s: he agreed!
  9. I want to be a polyglot! Languages on my list? French, Spanish and Arabic!
  10. I’ve always wanted to be a witch. Magical powers all the way!
  11. One time somebody told me I reminded them of Hermione and I couldn’t have been happier! Also, one of my college friends told me I reminded them of Cassie from Skins. Since I never watched the series, I can’t tell much about it, but I hope she wasn’t terrible. 😀

Since I answered all of the questions, it’s time I introduced you, my  lovely nominees!

  1. Modern Day Girl Blog
  2. Oh Dear Deer
  3. My World As You See It
  4. Finding Montauk
  5. Does This Make Me A Blogger

My questions for them are:

  1. If you could travel in time… would you and if so, what would be your first travel?
  2. How did you come up with an idea for your blog’s name?
  3. Would you rather win 100000$ or meet aliens?
  4. What’s your favorite past time?
  5. Who did you want to be when you were a child?
  6. What couldn’t you just live without?
  7. Who do you admire?
  8. What was the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen somebody do?
  9. Your motto?
  10. What makes you happy?
  11. How would describe your life in one sentence?

That would be all for today. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

Best wishes,

Jessie

 

The Mind Zone: Why gratitude is magic

There are days when everything becomes bleak and hopeless. The rain feels like hailing, people are overly rude in the store and you’ve just destroyed your favorite pair of shoes.  You start to think “wait, my life sucks” and suddenly the chances of having a good day are gone. Sounds familiar? It used to happen to me quite often, and I couldn’t do anything, but agree to give all my joy away. At least I thought I couldn’t. Turns out I was wrong. We can train our minds just like we can our bodies, and it makes  us a force to be reckoned with in The Game of Good Days.

I can say from my own experience that gratitude is one of the easiest ways to feel instantly better about everything in our lives.  If you want to discover magic, let yourself discover gratitude! More about gratitude, how to befriend it and why it’s worth it, below! 🙂

blogtitle%2F%2Fthe mind zone- why gratitude is magic

First of all, it’s very easy to overlook good things happening in our lives. Why? We get used to them, and negativity draws more attention. Maybe that is human nature. Seldom do they report good news on TV –  they report accidents, tragedies, and drama: they all sell more. This is why it’s not difficult to fall victim to negativity, become a serial complainer and forget  about good things in our lives. Here are 3 reasons why I think gratitude is magic…

  • It gives you a new perspective on things

Let’s say Jane Doe thought  “Oh well, I am a failure because I didn’t pass one exam and I don’t really have much money in my wallet”. She brings herself down and comes to one conclusion: “my life is terrible”. She may be – must be! – in a bad mood after all these thoughts. If Jane only reminded herself “Well, I can retake my exam, and there’s a yummy cupcake in my refrigerator. Oh and my sister’s coming soon, we’ll have so much fun!” she would be probably having a pretty good day. Why? Well,  despite some unpleasant things happening there was still something nice to look forward to, to be grateful for. See –  gratitude’s a game changer because it shifts your focus from negativity to positivity.

  • The idea behind it is not complicated

You don’t need to know any specific techniques to make it work. You just need to think about things you are grateful for. You can make a list out of them in your notebook or phone, but you could also leave them just inside your head if it works better for you. Personally, I would recommend you to do lists, though. Somehow the written word seems to hold more power to it. Plus, you won’t forget it.

  • It’s a game changer but  doesn’t cost a penny

The gratitude treatment won’t leave you broke because it doesn’t cost a penny. It just takes a little bit effort to change your thoughts and your attitude. Also, there are many free apps for daily guidance, if you need one. Wouldn’t it be good to change your thoughts by changing your perspective? My answer would be YES!

 

Now, let me mention the app I use for gratitude exercises. Yes, I called them exercises, because your mind’s also a muscle, perhaps even more demanding than your regular muscles, too.   The app is called “Bliss” and you can download it for free. It is handy for more than gratitude, though. Some of its sections are called: “Best possible future”, “Gratitude Exercises”, “Could be worse”, “Honoring people”, “Three Good things” and “Transforming Problems”. If I were to rate it, it easily gets 5 from me! 🙂 

What about you? What are your favorite ways to make your day better? Do you practice gratitude? Let me know in comments, I would be happy to hear more about you! 

See you next week in The Language Zone! Have a lovely week, guys. 🙂

Yours truly, 

Jessie

Smarter every day: simplistic and powerful growth with Anki, Youtube and podcasts

Hello, guys! How have you been doing? Myself I’ve been doing fine, aside from forgetting about deadlines once again! Today’s post belong to the past week, so let’s pretend it’s just another time traveller… from the past this time! 😉 the First week of the month is all about getting smarter. This time. It could change, but as I mentioned in the last post my blogging schedule will look like this:

  1. Smarter every day: new hacks on how to get smarter
  2. Mind zone: training your mind to have your back
  3. Language zone: language learning progress and tips
  4. Favorites of the month: Books, movies, music, podcasts & apps
  5. Culture corner Welcome to Poland (extra post published from time to time) 🙂 

What do you think about it? The last idea came to me a few days ago, since I would like people to know more about Poland. If you read it, I’ll be happy that somebody noticed my home country, and you will be culturally smarter. Win-win, right? Anyway, becoming smarter intellectually, culturally and emotionally is all Paper coffee store is about, so if you also seek to constantly upgrade yourself against fear, anxiety and doubt… you’re in the right place! What would you say for a little catch phrase? For example:  Smarten it up inside and out  against anxiety and doubt! Are you in or not so much? Let me know in comments, please! Now, coming straight to the point… let me introduce you to the new post of the “Smarter every day” series – Simplistic and powerful growth with Anki, Youtube, and podcasts! Let the journey begin…

Blog title- 05.06.2016 - Smarter every day-

Anki, Youtube, podcasts… You have probably heard at least about one of these things. I won’t swear by my life  that I’m right, but you might be wondering: why did she even include Youtube? Doesn’t she know Youtube’s one of the biggest villains on the procrastination scene? Does she know how easy it is to spend watching cats on Youtube? Yup, I know. Been there, done that. See, Youtube’s a very interesting player in that internet competition, because aside from being a productivity villain, it also happens to be one of the biggest educational heroes out there.  If you know here to look it can teach you anything you want. Below you can find links to some of the most wonderful learning channels  on Youtube I’ve ever come across! If you want to know my detailed opinion on some of them, you can read the post about my favorite learning channels I wrote back in October 2015.

Science

It’s Okay To Be Smart

Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

Gross science

Physics girl

Smarter every day

SciShow Space

PBS Space Time

Animals and nature in general

Animalogic

BBC Earth

Deep Look

General knowledge / cover many subjects

The Brain Scoop

Crash Course

TED-Ed

Psychology

Braincraft

Geography

Wonder Why

Art

The Art Assignment

Philosophy 

Philosophy Tube

Soft skills

Charisma on Command

That would be all for Youtube’s appearance in this post. I think you might really like some of the channels I listed if you give them a try! 

Now, let’s talk about Anki. Anki’s both an app and a program designed for flash cards. It’s very minimalistic and doesn’t need an internet connection to work so it’s perfect for those of us, who aren’t connected to the web all the time or have just hit the connection limit. Of course, you can always download your Memrise board, but these are big files as opposed to Anki files. You can download flashcards on many subjects, including languages, history or geography. Flashcards are made by users, so you can see the way other learners study. Also, you can make your own sets of flashcards very easily. I really like Anki, and even though I adore Memrise very much I must say Anki’s just better for some occasions.  It beats Memrise when you have no access to the internet, or your battery’s low and you don’t want it to die fast. I use both, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Additional note: it’s free, and can be used across various devices. 

When it comes to podcasts I posted about them recently (Podcast your way up easily ), but I felt like I needed to mention it again, since podcasts are excellent resources to get smarter intellectually, culturally and emotionally. Today I listened to the brilliant podcasts about the problem of rapes during dates. The podcast included the interview with somebody who wants to raise awareness about the problem. It lasted only 9 minutes, but I felt like I really got to know something new. The podcast’s name is “Witness” and it’s by BBC. If you’re interested, the episode’s name is “Date Rape”. BBC’s documentary called “Target: Tolo TV” also made a big impression on me. It allowed me to think again about how lucky I am to live in a peaceful country, far away from war or violence zones. Again, the podcast’s name just “The Documentary”. I would really recommend you to listen to their podcasts, they’re wonderful.

That would be all for today. Thank you for your support! Every view, comment, follow means a lot to me. May force be with you!

Have a lovely day,

Jessie

 

1 year of blogging: reflections, questions and more coffee

Hello, guys! How are you doing? Myself, I’ve been caught up in how fast time slips out of my hands. It’s been almost a month since I turned 20, and adulting is tiring. Yeah, I know, it’s been known since Peter Pan refused to leave the Neverland, but now I know it first hand. I’d rather prefer Peter Pan had lied! In a few days, I will have been blogging for a year. Pretty long,  right? To be honest, I’ve never been committed to anything or anyone for so long.

1 year of blogging

Thank you for the internet! Thank you, my dear readers! Thanks, music! Thanks my fellow bloggers! Thank you internet sink for letting my words come into shape. It’s been an amazing year of blogging. I’ve learnt so much about life, kindness, and marketing and I know there’s still so much ahead of me. The blogging community’s truly very supportive, and there are many bloggers, whose online presences in my news or Instagram feed became the part of my week.  Blogging teaches patience and consistency, helps you network and meet wonderful people from all around the world, but mostly empowers you to be inspired. This is what I like the most about blogging: it reminds me of all opportunities life can offer. Dear blogging world, thank you for existing. You make it all better. Since it’s been a year, I’m trying to give the blog a direction. Frankly speaking, I’ve always been bad at directions. I’ve always wanted to be everything, and couldn’t really focus on anything, so I’m yet to be sure of my niche. What I’ve realized, though, is that I’m really passionate about self-improvement. I struggle with anxiety and mood swings, so I would like to show you my journey in coming to peace with myself, instead of being in pieces. Maybe together we could build a tribe, which would stand strong during storms and droughts. The formula I was thinking of goes like that:

  1. Favorites of the month: Books, movies, music and apps
  2. Smarter every day: new hacks on how to get smarter
  3. Language zone: language learning progress and tips
  4. Mind zone: training your mind to have your back

What do you think about it? What would you like to see from me? I would love to hear your feedback. I really want my writing to be useful to you, even just a little bit. Thank you for all your support. It means a lot to me, and I mean it. 🙂

Have a lovely day,

Jessie