5 Books that Changed My Life | Guest Post by Aoife Caitriona

For as long as I’ve known, I have always had a book nearby. As a kid, I used to sit on my sofa with my head buried between the pages of fiction books letting my mind wonder to a different reality. George RR Martin wrote, “a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one”. It’s safe to say, I have lived a lot of lives but very few have left a lasting impression. This post that has been on my mind for a little while now and I thought it was about time I shared some of my favourite fiction books that have changed my life.

01. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. 

I came across this book trying to find my next read on the shelves of Waterstones. Rebecca is about a young woman who marries Mr De Winter. Throughout the book she lives in the shadows of his first wife, Rebecca, and is only referred to as ‘Mrs de Winter’ or ‘the second wife’. This book is about her struggle to form her own identity and move out of the shadows. What made this book even more special was that even though she narrates the book, you never quite get a look into who she is as a person.

02. Milk + Honey by Rupi Kaur. 

I feel like this book is slightly controversial when it comes to its poetry accolades. It’s been hailed as “Instagram poetry” and a lot of other negative stuff too. But, let’s get back to the main point of this post. Before I read Milk + Honey, I thought I understood what vulnerability was. How wrong I was. Reading Rupi’s poems about the loving, the breaking, the hurting and the healing, all showed me a new side to vulnerability. It broke down my walls and made me aware of my emotions on a deeper level.

03. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. 

The primary role of a fiction book is to make the reader escape from their own reality and throw them head first into the characters’ world. Memoirs of a Geisha is beautifully written and captures the elegant yet hardship life of a Japanese Geisha before, during and after WWII. One thing that amazes me about this book is the amount of detail the author goes to in creating a realistic reality. It reads more like a biography than an American man’s work of fiction.

04. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.

I’m a hopeless romantic but not all love stories end in happiness and not all love is healthy. Lily Bloom moves to Boston where she meets the gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. All things are going well, except Ryle has a little problem with his temper. This book is about strength, putting things right and one woman’s courageous actions to end the cycle of domestic abuse.

05. Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.

I feel like the books I’ve mentioned have been quite serious in some form but not every aspect of life is deeply serious. Becky Bloomwood has taught me many things in life, such as to never pass up a bargain on Miu Miu heels and retail therapy truly exists, but the most important thing has to be not to take yourself or life too seriously.

Love, Aoife xo

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Never underappreciated how valuable life is...it's a gift and we should treat it as one.

Cycle of Misfortune

I used to think the world was against me and I was really unlucky. I couldn't wrap my head around why bad things would always happen to me and had this "why me?" victim mentality. I've changed my belief that I am far from unlucky and came to the conclusion that sometimes my own actions and beliefs is the cause for these mishaps. Sometimes, it's just life.

Road to Self-Recovery

I have decided to let go of the person I once was. To be free from pain and anything that prevents me from growing into the person I am meant to be. I deserve to heal, to be strong and to love myself. And that's exactly what I'm going to do.

The Taste of Freedom

I am Whole

We feed ourselves with this lie that finding our significant other will change our lives and how we feel. Why do we rely on someone else to change us when our life doesn't belong to them? No one can ever complete you, only you can make yourself feel whole.

How Am I Loving Myself More This Year?

Self-love is important but I would be lying if I said I make it a priority in my life. It's hard to practice when you don’t make time for yourself. By only focusing on your insecurities, you damage your self-esteem and hinder your ability to wholeheartedly love who you are.

Think about how often you are kind to people. Now ask yourself, how kind am I to myself? Some of us treat people better than how we treat ourselves which doesn't make any sense. I've always said you are the only person you will ever spend the most time with so why wouldn't you want to treat yourself with care, love, and respect. This is exactly how you would treat someone you love. It shouldn't be different when it comes to you as an individual.

I made a commitment to love myself more this year by doing the things I love, accepting who I am, accepting the situations I am in, and by being more conscious of my self-talk.

How are we reducing our self-love? 

- Comparison

The thief of joy. I've never heard a truer statement because that's all comparison does. It makes you unhappy because you think about everything you lack rather than everything you have. Ever compared yourself to a beautiful Instagram babe and thought why can't I be this pretty??? Sometimes a flawless body in a bikini would appear on my social media feed - sun-kissed, hairless, soft and an even skin-complexion. Then comparison kicks in. I start to feel bad about myself because my body looks nothing like the gorgeous woman I saw on Instagram.

When you're insecure about your appearance, it takes time and practice to see someone attractive without seeing yourself as insignificant or "not enough". In other words, it will take some time to admire someone else without finding an issue with yourself. Don't waste time wishing you looked like another person, learn to be happy with who you are because you're an amazing human being. You are not any less beautiful than that insta bad b okay.

Someone anonymously said:
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are".
and they're exactly right.

- Not Accepting the Present

Most of us are not living in the present moment. Was your last thought about this very moment, something you did in the past or something you have to do in the future? My favourite spiritual thinker, Eckhart Tolle always emphasises how resisting the present moment prevents peace from entering our life. If we always find an issue with the present, we will always be in conflict with ourselves. Lately, I've been feeling down about my eczema but I reminded myself that I can't change my situation in this very moment. Rather than continuing to complain and feel upset,  I did some research and came across a black eczema sufferer. She created a dietary book with recipes that allowed her to fully heal.

Remember self-love isn't possible until we accept our reality and not fight against it. This doesn't mean we can't change our reality, it means we must accept it first without resentment. Loving yourself means you are willing to let go of the things you can't control and accept what is.

- Not having enough time for ourselves

The older you get the less time you have to do things because you have more responsibilities. No matter how busy life gets, you should always make time for yourself. A long list of priorities is sitting in the back of our minds and we're placed at the bottom. When you're not making yourself a priority, we are more likely to experience stress and feel like we are working for nothing. You deserve to reap the rewards for your hard work, so don't forget to put yourself at the top of your priority list!

How am I loving myself more this year:

- Not waiting for company

In 2019 Life Lessons, I mentioned how I started to do a few activities alone. I decided that it isn't necessary to wait for someone to accompany me every time I want to do the things I love or like doing. If there’s a restaurant I really want to go to but no ones available, I can just go on my own. If no one wants to see an artist I absolutely LOVE, I am booking that ticket to go on my own. There is nothing wrong with doing things by yourself. The longer you wait for people to say "yes" to the things you want to do, the more things you end up missing out on.

- Reducing the self negative talk 

We all make mistakes, we're human! We forget things, we lose things and we miss things. When you do all three, we get really angry at the person doing it. You. "I'm so stupid", "I'm a joke" and the list of insults goes on. How you treat yourself is how the world will treat you. The universe aligns opportunities, events and people according to your own beliefs and thoughts. This is why I strongly believe the words that come out of our mouths are more important than we can imagine. I am becoming more aware of the things I say, especially with the words that come after "I am..." because it often becomes your reality. 

- Learning how to relax

Whenever I'm not doing something, I feel like I should be doing something. This toxic cycle makes me think I always need to be busy. I came across a quote on Twitter the other day:
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life" - Socrates.

If you try to be busy all the time life will pass you by. Are the tasks you need to do really worth completing? Are you taking on more priorities than you can handle for the sake of it? Just like Tolle, Socrates implies how we need to enjoy the present moment more, joy can be found in this current moment, not a thousand useless tasks.

When I’m watching a Netflix show, sometimes I lose focus because my mind circulates all the “should be’s” - “you should be writing”, “you should be doing uni work” , you should be doing this and that which makes it difficult to unwind. We all need to take a break sometimes and that’s okay. It gives us a chance to refresh and stay motivated because we’re getting ready for the next thing we need to do.

- Being mindful of what I eat 

As an eczema sufferer, I’ve been told by numerous doctors that diet has nothing to do with the skin condition but they're wrong. I already know my triggers...it’s just the case of staying disciplined to restrict myself from eating the things that are bad for me. Eating out too much isn't good for my skin either due to the oil they use.

There will be times I’ll give in and have a cheat day but I can't hate myself for that. I'm planning to buy the dietary book I mentioned earlier in the post so I can really focus on eating the foods that will allow me to heal. Even though it mentions cutting out meat... I guess anything worth having comes with sacrifice, and I love myself enough to want my body to heal.

Make a commitment to be kinder to yourself because you deserve the love you would give to anyone else! What are you going to do to love yourself more this year?