The Arrival of Spring

By Doneisha Dodd

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According to the calendar, spring is already here, but the weather seems to be doing its own thing. Here in Canada it’s still cold and I am anxiously awaiting the real arrival of spring. I love spring, who doesn’t? There are so many things to enjoy about this time of year and today I would like to share a few of those things with you.

Longer days

Spring means that we will have longer days, which is a welcomed change from the short days of winter. This means there’s more time to spend with the people you love doing the things you love.

flowers

Flowers

One of the most beautiful things about spring is the flowers. With the disappearance of snow, flowers start to bloom and beautify the earth. The sweet scents of flowers and the freshness of the spring air are bound to lift the heart that was depressed by winter.

Sunshine

After missing the bright rays of the sun for almost 5 months, feeling it’s beams of light hitting my skin will fill me with energy. While I don’t advise any to bake yourselves in the sun, do step outside and enjoy the warmth of spring when it comes.

birdsandinsects

Birds and Insects

Who doesn’t like the sound of birds chirping and singing in the springtime? How can you not appreciate this lovely music freely given by the birds? I love to hear the melodies of birds singing. While I’m not a big fan of insects, you know that spring is here when they all come out to play. I love watching butterflies and the ants always busy at work. I’m scared of bees though because I’ve been stung twice.

Colours

Apart from the colours of nature, I do look forward to wearing bright colours and seeing everyone’s brightly coloured wardrobe. Wearing a bright outfit always makes me feel happier.

Happy People

People are usually happier in the springtime leading up to summer which is always a good thing as winter makes people quite miserable.

Spring cleaning

I must admit I do like a bit of spring cleaning. It’s the perfect time to reorganize and go through your belongings and either discard items that need to be thrown out or donate items that are still in good condition but are no longer valuable to you. A good clean out is one way to declutter your life and make space for more meaningful things.

gardening

Gardening

One new thing I’m hoping to try with my mom this summer is gardening. Like I mentioned before, I don’t particularly like being outside with the bugs, but I’m willing to put that aside to help my mom in the garden this spring. I can’t wait to taste the rewards of our labour.

I hope you enjoyed reading my list of things that I love about spring.


doneisha About the author: Doneisha lives in Canada. She loves singing, writing, making lists and hanging out with friends. Recently, she started a motivational lifestyle blog www.doneishadodd.com where she encourages her readers while sharing her blogging experiences as well as personal insights. If you would like to contact her, she can be reached at doneishadodd@hotmail.com.

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Review: Eleanor and Park

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Young love. Holding hands. Kissing in the shadows. Lots of swear words (I’ve heard some critics say). This is what I imagined when my friend recommended me to read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

And pizza parties, for some weird reason.

I was just craving pizza real bad when I started the book (although there is a pizza party somewhere in the book and that made me happy). But, in short. Eleanor and Park is about two sixteen year olds who are kind of a couple of misfits. Eleanor is new at Park’s school, has big, red hair, dresses like a boy, is living in a messed up house situation, and labels herself as the Han Solo in their relationship. Park is the ‘Asian kid’ at his school, prefers to wear black, has parents that are fans of PDA, and does not choose to be the Princess Leia in that scenario. At first, they try really hard to ignore each other, but eventually they bond over comic books, the beginning of that song from Joy Division and other related things. They fall in love, gradually finding out more about each other’s past, including things they are both not prepared for.

My thoughts.

Eleanor and Park is sort of everything I had in mind before I started reading it. Sort of, because it wasn’t just that. It was more. An incredible portrayal of young love, so real, so down to earth, yet so dreamy and sweet like only teen love can be. I fell in love with Eleanor and Park and I think we’d definitely be buddies in real life. Herein lies the strength of this book, I think.  These wonderful, quirky characters are portrayed in a way they could easily be your friends (even though I’m well past my teens). In all fairness, a dual narrative is tricky. But Rowell pulls it off brilliantly. Both perspectives illuminate one character as much as the other, perfectly complimenting each other. Also, the secondary characters remain interesting and I actually found none of them boring or too flat.

If I have to be nit-picky, like really nit-picky, I’d have to be nit-picky about Park. In terms of characterisation, I felt that Park missed a little bit of the depth that I didn’t think Eleanor lacked. I could feel the tension there was between him and his dad, but I wanted that to be more visible and just in general a bit more of Park.

But that’s me being really nit-picky.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to my cousin, who wrote a guest post about love, because [SPOILER ALERT] she likes happy endings. I mean, just read the first page of the book and you know it doesn’t have a happy ending. But it’s a wonderful read. I absolutely loved this book. Original, funny, although sad too, it really reminded me of what it’s like to be young and in love, when holding hands was really all you wanted to do.

My rating: 4/5 stars

A Volunteering Adventure

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I’m volunteering at a marathon, handing out cups of water along the track. It’s bloody cold. I can’t feel my toes and the tip of my right ring finger is worryingly white. Some of the runners are looking like they’re in a lot of pain (which they probably are). I have to resist the urge to push a cup of water in their hands. Just take the freaking cup! It’ll make you feel better. I think. Other people smile at me. Some of them take my cup. I smile back. I never knew the joy of someone taking your cup could be so great. This is not a metaphor. A guy with a Chelsea shirt passes by. I want to yell something. Something like Go Chelsea!* That’ll cheer him up. But I don’t say anything. He might think I’m weird.

While I’m putting butter on approximately 900 sandwiches, the girl who puts the sandwiches in bags asks me how I got this volunteering job. I’m silent for a moment, hoping that one of the three people from church will answer the question. But none of them do. I say the four of us are volunteering from church. It’s quiet for a moment. I wonder if she’s thinking we’re fanatics now. After we’ve all had coffee, it’s not so quiet anymore. Also, I’m on a roll. I might’ve found my new calling. Putting butter on sandwiches.

One of the coordinators asks me if I’d like to fetch some coffee for everyone. I nod. My stomach turns. Why am I so scared to fail at fetching coffee? “Just put the content of the sachets in the cups and I’ll fill them with hot water,” the guy says. Okay, that’s not so difficult. I start tearing the sachets and put them in cups. One time, the wind blows away a cup. The guy doesn’t notice it. “You could fill some of the cups with hot chocolate too if you want to,” he says. Right. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? Everyone seems happy with their hot drinks. One guy pulls a face. “Not good?” I ask. “Not good,” he says, but he smiles anyway and I smile too.

When it’s time to go home, I’m tired. But it’s a good kind of tired. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve thought about not going. I’m glad I did though. Not until today did I realise that Nijmegen really is a very old city. I already knew I wasn’t made for the cold, but today has been a confirmation. I only messed up one person’s coffee as far as I know. I saw a guy wearing a really tight sport outfit. It was too bad that when my mouth dropped he looked at me like I know, right?

*Even though I’m still sad that Chelsea lost, I wish Paris Saint-Germain all the best. Sincerely.

Character Sketch: The Fragrance of a Willie Nelson Song

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I’m singing a Willie Nelson song. I don’t even like Willie Nelson or know the actual lyrics to the song, but we’re on the road, so I’m singing “On the Road Again.” I try to peek from the corner of my eye to see if Nancy’s having fun. She’s looking on her phone. I think she’s smiling, but I can’t tell for sure because I’m trying to focus on the road and the rest of the lyrics of the song.

Suddenly, she starts talking to her phone. “You do realise that you can go faster here, right?” It takes me a couple of seconds to realise she isn’t really talking to her phone.

I give her a minimum nod. “Yeah, I know.” I step on the gas a bit. “I was just trying to be careful with the rain and everything.”

Nancy’s typing something. I think she sighs, but that might also be the wind.

This whole thing was her idea. She said she really wanted to go to Scotland to see the mountains and lochs, sheep and men in kilts. She told me this after class when she was having her cigarette. Long distance drives were not her kind of thing though, so there was no way she could make the drive herself. “We could rent a car,” I said, “and then you wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

“We?” she said and blew smoke in my face.

It hadn’t been my intention to be so forward.

“You’re cool with driving on the wrong side of the road?”

I nodded.

“All the way to the Highlands?”

I smiled and told her confidently I was excited about it. And I am. I really am. Excited about it.

There’s a truck coming. There’s a truck coming and it’s significantly bigger than our little Fiat. I don’t see how this car and that truck are going to fit on this road. Why are trucks allowed on this narrow road? Why is this two-sided narrow road called a highway in Scotland?

“Ross, you’re really close to the edge,” Nancy says. She sounds bored.

My hands are clenching the steering wheel. “There’s a truck coming,” I say.

“Yeah, no shit,” Nancy says. “But you’re really close to the edge.”

I check my rear-view mirror. “Could you please stop yelling?”

Nancy looks at me. “I’m not yelling, Ross.”

The truck is coming closer. “Yes, you are. Yes, you are and you’re being disruptive to the navigating process.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Nancy says.

The truck rushes past and we’ve almost come to a complete halt.

I inhale the air that has a hint of Nancy’s waft of smoke.

She smokes about two packs per day and the reason why she started smoking is because when Nancy was fourteen her older sister told her she would grow bigger boobs and so now Nancy’s addicted. Even though we both know that smoking doesn’t make her boobs bigger.

Traveltastic Thursday: Maastricht

The Netherlands is about 37.354 square kilometres. In comparison, Russia is about 17 million square kilometres, roughly 400 times bigger than the Netherlands. So, a pretty tiny country. You’d say it’s easy to see everything there is to see in the country. But truth be said, it’s not that uncomplicated. But since I’ve moved back to the Netherlands, I’ve decided to become a tourist myself and explore the land of orange (the colour), cheese rolling down a hill, and tulips of all the colours of the world (not literally though).

So I went to Maastricht.

A two hour train ride away from Utrecht, the most central city of the Netherlands, I went way way south. I eavesdropped on some interesting conversations, plotted a short story in my head, ate my self-made sandwich, counted the sheep I saw along the trail, read a bit from my book, thought about if I remembered to close my window, and texted my friend some useless memes that have not added any value to her life. By the time I was done with all of this, I thought I must’ve almost arrived. Only to find out that I still had about 45 minutes to go.

But I arrived.

Destination reached!

Destination reached!

The sun was shining, my friend had remembered to pick me up, and I hadn’t spilled anything on my clothes/drooled in public. I already loved Maastricht.  First, we did some catching up. Second, we ate because we were pretty hungry. And third, we explored the city a little by night. I was told there are three excellent Irish pubs in Maastricht (of which I visited two), there are also gigantic rats in the city (but I didn’t see any unfortunately), and the bridge that looks a little quaint was bombed in World War II, consequently it was decided to leave it that way so that enemies couldn’t cross it, but then later they thought it was kind of annoying and refinished the bridge anyway. We also had a discussion on how mayors are elected.

SUN!

SUN!

That quaint bridge

That quaint bridge

There’s an opening for mayor of Maastricht, so feel free if you feel inclined.

Next day, adventuring in daylight. There’s a red church and another church right next to it, of which one is protestant and the other one is catholic. The street running through these two churches is called “het Vagevuur,” which can be translated to “purgatory.” It’s good to know these kind of things. There’s another church in town that has been transformed to a book shop and it’s one of the most wonderful book shops I’ve visited. It’s awesome. I also visited the market and witnessed some preparations for carnival, which is a big happening in Maastricht. And listened to a real carnival song of which I understood nothing.

Two churches and a bike

Two churches and a bike

Book shop in a church

Book shop in a church

Carnival flags

Carnival flags

I very much enjoyed the people’s accents.

And the numerous bridges, the hospitality (thanks again bus driver for pointing me in the right direction, really appreciate it), and the creativity for street name choices. Holiday feeling all around. Made me curious for more.

Guest Post: Something to Share

By Emmelie Mourillon

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Valentine’s Day is upon us and most couples, friends and family are busy with organizing something special on this particular day.

I think it’s very important to not only focus on this one day to give a special present to your loved ones, but on reminding ourselves that love/ being loved/sharing love is something for every single day.

I thought it would be nice to share some ideas on sharing the love in different ways.

Memory Jar

One of my favorite things to do with my family and friends is remembering special things that have happened in the past years. A memory jar is a special way to give those special moments a ‘time and place to remember.’ Two years ago, we had a memory jar at home. We agreed to write special memories on little scraps of paper from that year and put them in the jar. At the end of the year, we sat together and opened the papers. I think that writing moments down on paper or sharing them out loud is giving those moments a special place. A special place to stand out.

A love letter

In primary school, it was kind of a big deal if you would get a love letter from the boy you were always checking out. Those goose bumps I would get of just thinking about it. Sadly, it never happened. Nowadays, with social media we don’t write that much anymore. I think especially these days it’s very meaningful to give someone a love letter. It’s very personal and I also think it’s good for your self-esteem, because expressing your feelings in words can make you realize how much someone really means to you.

Give something

I’ve worked a few months in an art center for people who were homeless or didn’t feel part of society. I really learned a lot from these people. And what really surprised me was that these people felt that finally someone paid attention to them and they weren’t alone in this world. It really hit me when a woman said to me: “This is the only place where I feel heard.” Not everyone is surrounded by friends or even family. A special gift also means to share the love in a way that may seem insignificant but is actually the opposite. A smile can really make someone’s day :)!

I hope you enjoyed reading this, have a beautiful day and enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

“Let’s focus on the fact that: Love is something to share, give and to explore”


EmmelieMourillonAbout the author: Emmelie Mourillon (1992), born in the Netherlands, raised in the midst of 2 cultures, became after some difficulties at primary school an energetic ‘’be yourself’’ fashion lover who is active in social work. In March, she will start her blog Inneroutfits. In this blog she will share some life struggles / adventures in combination with inner beauty and fashion.

Character Sketch: Letter I Would Write if I Had the Courage

Dear person I just met at the grocery store,

I am writing to notify you of my opinion of our previous meeting.

First of all, you are really hot. Second of all, I’m sorry that I stared at your purchased goods for a very long time when I stood behind you in the queue for the cash register. It was not my intention to be judgmental as it was also not my intention to stand directly behind you in the queue for the cash register. I could say I wasn’t even paying attention to anything you were doing and was just lost in my own thoughts, but then I would be lying. I have no right to judge you for buying one of those bags for roasting chicken in the oven, even though the whole thing seems like a sham to me.

While I appreciate your concern for my well-being, I did not like the fact that you pointed out to me I looked so serious. That’s just my face. I’m not happy nor am I unhappy. I was simply exercising my brain to remember to buy the things that I wanted to buy. Just because you walk around with a perpetual smile on your face, doesn’t mean everyone should. We’re not all happy people. And we’re not all healthy people. Your glare when I went for the whole milk while you went for the almond milk was in fact a bit rude. I know it happened because I looked at you to make sure I was seeing it right. I assume you did that on purpose. That smile at the end that showed your dimple.

I would also like to point out that I don’t think your haircut suits you. If that lock of hair is in the way, why not just remove it? I saw the way the cashier batted her eyelashes when you said you were short of 50 cents and then performed your hair flip. Clearly, you know what you are doing. This is all hypothetical of course, but in a world where I would actually have your address and actually send this handwritten letter to you (for the sake of emphasising the drama) perhaps you would refrain in the future from making it obvious to the public that you know you are good-looking. It doesn’t suit you.

Lastly, I just wanted to say that after I left the grocery store I went back to buy marshmallows and I regret nothing.

I sincerely hope you will one day experience the bliss of indulging on cheese (the full fat one) and not be ashamed.

Best wishes,

Not an admirer of you