My Turkish Scarf / Bathroom Curtain

There’s a Turkish scarf hanging in my bathroom which acts as a bathroom curtain. As well as a beautiful pattern this scarf has two, small stories attached to it, which for me makes it more than just a piece of fabric. One story is more personal to me and the other is just kind of funny – and I’m going to share them both with you now!

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The origin of the scarf

I was in Turkey many years ago, in a very eastern city called Antakya. This was not a touristic city at all, and hardly anyone there spoke English. I was there with my then-boyfriend and his family and had my heart set on buying a beautiful Turkish scarf. I saw a shop wanted to go into, but for some reason no one wanted to go with me. My boyfriend kept saying “Yeah, later” and then everyone went to the pub. So I made the (for me) very bold move of saying “OK, I’m going across the road by myself, to get the scarf.” I went into the shop, saw the scarf I wanted, and put it on the counter. The shopkeeper, seeing that I couldn’t speak Turkish (well, probably Arabic, since that was the main language spoken in that region – I had no clue, either way), wrote the price of the scarf on a piece of paper. I gave him the money and that was it! I had bought the scarf! There were some ladies in the shop, too, sitting on the floor and drinking tea. They gestured for me to join them. I responded by pointing across the road and saying “Antakya pub”. They sort of looked at me like I was mad. Probably thought I was inviting them to the pub with me. Then I left, to avoid being any more awkward and weird.

Now, this little story might not seem like a big deal, but at the time Antakya was the most foreign place I had ever been to, and I never imagined I’d be bold enough to walk off on my own and buy something in a country I didn’t know, from a person I couldn’t communicate with. But the fact that I did told me I was growing up (I was about 19 at the time) and that I wasn’t scared anymore. Whenever I look at this scarf now I am reminded of my strength, and that, if I want something, I don’t have to wait for anyone to get it for or with me. I can get it by myself.

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Why the scarf became the bathroom curtain

Our bathroom faces our garden fence and, across from that, the neighbour’s bathroom and their back door. I never put a curtain up in our bathroom because I didn’t think we needed one; the window glass is frosted, and for ages no one was living next door. When there were neighbours, I never saw them outside. So basically, I didn’t think anyone would be able to see us in our bathroom while we showered. Then some new neighbours moved in and started smoking outside their back door – which, as I said, is opposite our bathroom window. I had a thought one day: Can they see us when we shower at night, and the light is on in our bathroom? B and I did a little experiment where I stood in the shower after dark with the light on, and he went outside to see how much was visible. After 1 second he came running indoors and told me with hilarious urgency “We need to get a curtain!” Apparently, you could see everything!! So then I was laughing my head off thinking about how we’d been living there for 2 years without a bathroom curtain and that if anyone was outside in the neighbour’s garden, they would’ve seen us naked. And so, to give us a little dignity, the Turkish scarf became the bathroom curtain.

As a bonus, it lets in lots of beautiful, warm light when I leave it down in the daytime.

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Sometimes the most ordinary of items in our homes have personal stories and meanings attached to them that make them more than just another object. When we display these objects in our homes they become great reminders of who we are and what we’ve experienced and achieved. In this way, I think, the way you decorate your home comes down to how you want to feel: Do you want a load of rubbish lying around that makes you feel negative when you come home, or do you want to fill your home with things that remind you of good times, and that make you feel great?

Is there anything ‘ordinary’ in your home (a cup, a curtain, a blanket etc.) that comes with a funny story or a great memory attached to it? I’d love to hear about it!!!! These are the little things that make a house a home for me. 🙂

Conni ❤

Our Amazing House In Tetouan, Morocco | Travel

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One of the things I want to do on this blog is include posts about places I’ve stayed on my travels. Last year, B and I went to Morocco and stayed in an amazing house in Tetouan – something we were not expecting to do. Here is the post about it! 🙂

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Tetouan is a city in the north of Morocco and is nicknamed ‘The White Dove’ because most of its buildings are white. Whist there, we stayed in a Riad called El Reducto, located in Tetoun’s medina (old town). The difference between a Riad and a hotel is that a Riad is designed in the style of a traditional Moroccan house, with rooms usually overlooking a central courtyard. Riads are designed to give visitors a more authentic experience, as not only are they designed in a traditional style, but staying in a Riad puts you right in the heart of Moroccan life.

WE GOT GIVEN A FLIPPING HOUSE!

When we arrived at El Reducto, something amazing happened. We were told we could have the option of a room, which we’d booked….. or an entire house. The guy showed us the room, and it was nice enough. Then he took us just across the street to a house which also belonged to the Riad. It was a 3-storey house complete with a roof terrace with this view:

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He said we could have the room or the house. I asked why – does the house cost more? He said no. So we obviously took the house! We couldn’t believe our luck and spent the first night half-awake just in case this beautiful house was haunted.

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Was it haunted though?
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Haunted?

Update the next morning: It was not haunted. Here is a little ‘house tour’!

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Entrance
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Kitchen
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Dining room
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Living room
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View from 1st to 2nd floor (and B!)
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Bedroom #1
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Massive wardrobe in bedroom #1
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Lovely little centrepiece
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Bedroom #2
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Bathroom
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Little sofa area on 3rd floor, leading out to terrace
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The selling point: This view!

Over the next couple of days we settled right into our beautiful house – so much so that we considered cancelling the next part of our trip and staying in Tetouan for the whole of our holiday. We couldn’t do that in the end because of our cancellation policy, but that just gives you an idea of how much we loved it there! One thing I especially enjoyed was staying up late with the windows open in the living room, and listening to the hustle and bustle (and cats) from the street below. Maybe I’m odd, but for me, this is so peaceful.

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Cats love boxes! View from the window down into the street.

I am so grateful we got to spend our holiday here. We had literally booked a sofa bed in a regular room, and I remember saying to B when we left the ultra-comfy beds of Ibis hotel in Rabat, ‘Prepare yourself because we are going to be in a small room in a sofa bed’. It just goes to show that sometimes, good things happen for no reason whatsoever.

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The view at night. The yellow strip on the right side looks down into the street below.

Another, slightly weird, thing is that for ages I’ve been perving over photos of Santorini, Greece – specifically, ones of the white buildings piled on top of one other. I’ve been saving them to Pinterest and commenting things like “I’d love to go there” on my friends’ photos when they’ve been. When I first saw that view from the roof terrace in Tetouan, I had the same feelings I felt when I saw all of those images of Greece. Only recently I watched a video about ‘vision boards’ in manifestation, and how the images you save and look at frequently can shape your reality. Maybe you believe in this and maybe you don’t, but when I saw that view and I realised the connection, I just thought: Thank you.

Thank you, Universe, for this beautiful holiday and this beautiful house! 🙂

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Conni ❤

 

Book Recommendation: The Sexual Politics of Meat

Sometimes it’s good when you’re unwell, because it gives you the excuse to stay in bed and read. I’ve recently finished a book that I had to read in small doses, and definitely not before bed, because its topic was too stimulating! But I finished it and I’m really thankful for all it’s taught me. The book is called The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams, and it’s all about the correlation between feminism and vegetarianism/veganism. Now I know this topic might be a little *heavy* for some, and my book reviews are usually rather concise, but I think this book is so important and has inspired me so much that it deserves a longer post. If you identify as a feminist and/or love animals, you might want to read this book! 🙂

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The Sexual Politics of Meat is a pretty old book – it was written in 1990! – but its subject matter is no less relevant today. Amongst other things, the book talks about:

  • Language, for example: How the numbing effect of language is purposefully used to enable people to eat animals, and how without it, they are less able to eat them (eg. people will eat ‘veal’ but not ‘dead baby cow’);
  • How it is mostly female animals that are exploited for their reproductive systems (a cow’s milk, a chicken’s eggs – aka. their periods), and how non-human, female animals should therefore be included when talking about feminism (ie. feminists should, technically, be vegans);
  • How both women and animals are objectified and oppressed through use of language. This could be something like calling women “birds” (I’m not sure if this is used in American-English, for example, but it is in British-English), or how men say things like “I’m a breast man/I’m a leg man” when referring to which part of a chicken they like eating most; in doing this they are also, indirectly, referring to which parts of women they like the most. There are several more examples: Women sometimes say they’ve been treated “like a piece of meat” by men, and so on.
  • Related to the above: Pictures of old advertisements for meat products that objectify women at the same time.

I didn’t take any photos of the ads from the book, but here are a few I found just now, to show you what I mean. *Articles are linked to the pictures*

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In all of these adverts, both women and animals are being treated like ‘things’ and the meat on offer is appealing to straight men only. These adverts are reinforcing to men the belief that they can dominate both: They can eat the animal and ‘eat’ the woman, too. Or the woman can ‘eat their meat’.

Gross.

Women and animals are objectified in much the same way which means that, when women fight for their rights, they are – or should be – fighting for animal rights, too.

Once you open your eyes to this, you really do start seeing it everywhere!

What this book has taught me.

The word ‘feminist’ is thrown around quite a lot. Most women will call themselves a feminist – why wouldn’t they? – but this book has taught me that it means so much more than simply saying “I’m a feminist”. When International Women’s Day rolls around, loads of women will talk about “girl power” and say how much they appreciate their female friends, and then they’ll never do anything else, or talk about anything ‘feminist’ until the next year rolls around (this was me, too). But in actual fact, there is SO much to learn about when it comes to feminism!

How many people have considered female, non-human animals when they talk about being a feminist, for instance? The mother cows who are artificially inseminated (raped), whose babies are ripped away from them at birth (who then become ‘veal’) and whose milk is taken from them to feed human beings who don’t need it? Surely a human mother will stand in solidarity with a mother cow, because no human mother would ever want something so morbid to happen to her and her baby. Yet by buying milk and dairy, they indirectly support these anti-feminist actions – which is something they might not even be aware of. But when they do become aware of it, do they do anything about it? (And this is just one example.)

I guess what I’m saying, and what this book has taught me, is that it’s not enough to just say “I am a feminist”. Actions and beliefs need to line up. What are we, as individuals, actually doing to show we care about feminism? No one is suggesting we should burn our bras or completely change the way we live overnight. But reading about feminism and what it actually means, reading about the link between feminism and vegetarianism/veganism, reading about intersectional feminism – all of these things give us knowledge, which gives us power. And then, from what we’ve learnt and how it makes us feel, we can decide what steps to take to actually live our feminism. I stopped consuming dairy products when I learnt about how the dairy industry functions. Did I know this was a feminist act at the time? No, I didn’t. I just knew I had to do it. But now I see why my decision makes sense within a feminist framework. I have learnt something!

I’m really, really far from perfect, but that’s why I’m sharing this. No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn. I knew sexist adverts existed, for example, but I didn’t see the link between dead animals (meat) and women, and I didn’t see why this link existed. There is always more to learn. And this book has taught me a hell of a lot – but I know there’s even more for me to learn!

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If you’ve read this book, I would love to hear what you thought about it! If you haven’t read it but something in this blog post has sparked your interest, leave a comment, too! And if you have any recommendations for similar books, please let me know. I want to educate myself a lot more.

Bye for now! 🙂

Buy The Sexual Politics of Meat on Amazon

More book recommendations.

 

 

Conni ❤

The Wind Cave by Haruki Murakami

Today I want to share a very short story that you can read over your morning coffee. 🙂

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It’s Saturday morning and for the first time ever I have this on my to-do list: “Read Murakami short story”. Haruki Murakami is probably the author I’ve read the most of, having first discovered him at the age of 16 via a theatrical version of his short story, “The Elephant Vanishes”. So whenever I hear he’s published something new, I am all over it like a rash.

A short story of his called “The Wind Cave” was published in The New Yorker in August 2018. I read it today, over my morning coffee. I’m not usually one to read things from my phone but this story was short enough for me to be able to, and it definitely made much better use of my time than scrolling social media, like I usually do in the mornings. So if you’re looking for something to read on the train or in your lunchbreak, here is the link:

The Wind Cave

Make a coffee, snuggle up in your favourite spot and enjoy this great introduction to the magical worlds and words of Haruki Murakami. 🙂

 

Conni ❤

Brighton Graffiti & Décor Inspiration

Sometimes you go to a place that just leaves you feeling inspired. For me, Brighton was one of those places. I might be in the minority here, but whenever I visit somewhere new I tend to be a little disinterested in the big sights and attractions, and find myself taking a million photos of things like graffiti, cats, and cute coffee shop interiors. And the more inspired by a city I am, the more of these kinds of photos appear on my phone. What can I say? You like what you like! Here are some of the photos I took in Brighton, of things that made me feel cosy and inspired and good. I hope they make you feel that way, too!

Cafes/bars & décor!

There are so many cosy-looking cafes and bars in Brighton. I loved this outdoor seating and the warmth of the lights in this one.

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I loved this espresso cup from The Flour Pot Bakery, where we stopped for coffee on the last day. It has the cutest little design on the inside of the cup!

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This pub was pretty immense, too.

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I loved the décor of this place, Beelzebab (part of The Hope And Ruin), below. This is 100% plant-based and they do pure comfort food like hot dogs, kebabs & so on. But look at its interior! I have always loved this kind of style. Loads of lights, loads of pictures, mismatched furniture, eclectic and vintage items all over the place and a patchwork ceiling.

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And, in this case, a broken piano making its way into the bar.

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I had a vegan hot dog called a ‘Dirty Kraut’, and fries. German comfort food. I neeeeeeed to make hot dogs at home again like this, with all the Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and mustard – the works!

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Graffiti!

I love graffiti and Brighton has loads of it. It fascinates me. I think what I like about graffiti is that people use walls to share messages that don’t get mainstream attention, and even though they eventually get painted over, while they’re there they have an impact. They might be all a person needs to look further into a subject. B said once that these words are like ‘little revolutions’ and I loved that because they really are! You can learn stuff from the words and stickers on the walls, if you just pay attention to them. Alternatively, you will read something nice that can brighten up your day! Brighton has lots of this type of graffiti, too.

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(This was on a toilet door)

Brighton is one of the best places in England for vegan food and as such it has a massive vegan community. This is definitely reflected in the graffiti you see throughout the city. Here are a few I spotted.

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Lots of inspiration, of all kinds! But mainly, what my trip taught me is to be myself, to like what I like, and to stand up for what matters to me – unashamedly, unapologetically!

Is there a place that makes you feel like that?

 

 

Conni ❤

The Harbour Hotel, Brighton | Travel

For our wedding anniversary B and I went to Brighton for a few days! Neither of us had ever been to Brighton before and we loved it. We stayed in a place called The Harbour Hotel on the Brighton seafront. Here’s a little review of it, should anyone be reading this with the idea of going to Brighton (hi!), and so we can look at some nice hotel interiors! A nest away from the nest (someone once told me they ‘make a nest’ when they go to a hotel, ie. unpack all their stuff and make it feel like home, and that stayed with me because I found it so cute)!

The Harbour Hotel, Brighton

This hotel is right on the Brighton seafront, in the middle of town. So it couldn’t be better positioned. There was some ugly scaffolding on the front of the building while we were there, so I didn’t bother taking a photo of its exterior, but here’s what the room looked like!

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The bed was massive and extremely comfortable. It was also sooooo warm in there, it was heaven! We froze our asses off when we came back home to our house, hahah. The windows, however, weren’t that thick, so we were woken up several times by the sounds of people shouting on the street below, and by the bar/restaurant throwing all their glass bottles into the recycling bin at about 1am. There were complementary earplugs in the bathroom… maybe that’s why they were there!

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The bathroom was warm and the shower was hot and powerful, which is all I care about in hotels. You get a dressing gown and slippers for use in the spa, too.

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There’s this little ‘lounge area’ before you go into the actual bedroom, which I thought was quite cute! Didn’t touch the sherry or the gin, obvs.

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It’s me. Hi.

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And the complementary tea & coffee is inside the wardrobe. There’s a Nespresso machine with coffee pods out on the table, but I wasn’t sure if you got charged for using it. So we didn’t touch it, just in case.

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Just perving over the design on this tea! How pretty?!?!

NOW GET READY FOR THE BEST SEA VIEW YOU’VE EVER SEEN IN YOUR LIFE!!!!!!

…..

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Yeah. A wall. B and I have this running joke that, whenever we go and stay somewhere, our view is always of a wall, because we’ve had so many wall-views in our time. And, true to form, we had a wall view again this time! I actually love seeing walls out of hotel windows now, because it makes me laugh. If I go away by myself and I have a wall view, I take a photo and send it to B and say “Look at my amazing view!”. You’ve got to make the best of things and at the end of the day, I don’t think the view out of a hotel window is anything to get upset about! ❤

Now, when it comes to hotels I’m not too fussed about staying in ‘posh’ places, to be honest. I’m happy enough in a budget hotel as long as the bed is comfy and the shower is hot. But B booked this hotel because it had an ‘underground spa’.

The Spa

This is something we didn’t know, which is worth mentioning: Use of the gym and spa is included when you make your booking directly through the hotel website. But if you book via booking.com or something like that – which we did – you need to pay an extra £10 per person, per day, to use the spa. So we ended up paying an extra £40. I mean, it was worth it, but it’s kind of an annoying rule when you think you’re saving money by using a site like booking.com and in the end, you’re not. But it was a really nice spa and we had our hearts set on it, so of course we went. 🙂

This is how it looks when you walk down the stairs into the spa. There’s a chillout area here, and another one with bigger seating right at the back of the spa. There are magazines and stuff to read.

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There’s a pool and a hydrotherapy pool (a big jacuzzi, basically), and then an area where the hot tubs, sauna & steam room are. This bit looks like an underground cave. I loved the exposed brickwork and low lighting!!

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Can someone install this in my home, please?

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We loved it down here! It was so relaxing. If we were to go to Brighton and to this hotel again I think we’d stay for longer than 2 days so that we had more time to really relax and enjoy the spa for longer. Because of the chillout area you could basically take a book down there and read all day, if you wanted to!

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There is a little gym upstairs as well which we used, but I forgot my phone so there aren’t any photos of that. It had a decent amount of equipment for us to be able to do a leg workout which killed us, so I’d say it was a good gym.

Breakfast

Totally forgot about breakfast! You get a continental buffet and can order English breakfast or avocado on toast (etc.) from the menu, but if you’ve paid for breakfast then it’s all included and you can have as much as you want. I’m vegan and I usually look at what breakfast options hotels have before I book, but because B booked it all and kept it a secret, I couldn’t check this time. So it was actually quite a good experience to go with the flow and see what I could do with what I had. In the end I had a veggie breakfast but asked for them to leave the eggs & halloumi cheese out of it (which they happily did). I also asked for soya milk (they also had almond) & made my own cereal with muesli, dried fruit, chia seeds & pumpkin seeds. And obviously, I had black coffee & grapefruit juice. So it was fine! Judging by what I had, and how the rest of the buffet looked, the food at this hotel was of very good quality. 🙂

I didn’t take any photos of breakfast, so please enjoy this stock image of a pancake stack that I now desperately want to eat:

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A very good experience at The Harbour Hotel, all in all!

Conni ❤

Reinstating My Old-School Alarm Clock! (Bye, Smartphone)

For ages, B and I have been discussing getting an actual alarm clock, so we don’t have to use our phones as morning alarms anymore. The reason behind it is the same as everybody else’s: We’re fed up of how much we use our phones. We’re fed up of how much we’ve come to rely on our phones – so much so that, when we try to detox and dump them in a drawer somewhere, we find ourselves crawling back because ‘I need my phone to do that’. It honestly freaks us out to see how reliant we’ve all become on smartphones.

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So when I was at my parents’ house the other week, I came across my old, digital alarm clock. It was my dad’s before it was mine, and I used to have it in my teenage bedroom. It’s so old and yellow it probably can be considered vintage by now, but it still works really well. So I decided it was time: I took it home with me, placed it on my bedside table, tuned it in to Radio 1 (the only radio station I listen to) and set the alarm. Immediately, things started to change.

I know this might sound strange, but just seeing my old alarm clock there on my bedside table made me feel really good. Having the radio gently playing in my bedroom while I tidied and ran errands and so on, made me feel calm. And then, the next morning, I heard the buzzing sound of the alarm and I actually got out of bed. No complaints. No struggle! The following day, I set the radio to come on instead of the buzzer, just to see what that was like, and when it came on, I lay in bed for a few minutes listening to the voices and the music and then I actually got out of bed. It was so easy. I didn’t hit snooze 12 times. OK, so I don’t know how to – but I also find I don’t want to any more. It seems that, waking up to a real alarm clock, I feel refreshed and ready to get up and enjoy my day!

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My phone alarm, on the other hand, only ever irritated me. It physically shocked me out of my sleep (even though the alarm sound was gentle!!) and then I felt so pissed off all I did was hit snooze, over and over, just because my phone screen told me I could. Then I got up late and felt crap for the rest of the day. This has been my reality for longer than I care to admit. But with my old alarm clock waking me up, none of that applies any more.

I don’t know exactly why my alarm clock is so good at getting me out of bed, but I am so delighted at the change in myself since using one that I will not go back to using my phone’s alarm. If you also struggle with getting out of bed and you’ve got an old alarm clock rattling around somewhere, I urge you to get it out and use it again! It might just be that one, simple change that makes all the difference. 😀

 

 

 

 

Conni ❤