Setting New Goals

Something I Gotta Do.

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog posts (which you probably are because you’re probably related to me or Jess) you’ll know that I’m currently studying abroad in France. Well, since arriving here, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and I’m really not comfortable with the way my body is looking and feeling right now. For the last year or so, I’ve put on more than 10 pounds, and it’s time for me to stop ignoring it.

Some of the reasons for this are personal, but my biggest spikes weight wise have come from being far from home and immersed in unhealthy food that I haven’t been able to resist. Believe it or not, I really love working out and eating healthy foods, more than I like cupcakes and potato chips, but I’m awful at controlling cravings, saying no when someone offers me food, and I eat/bake when I’m stressed or upset. Obviously, the combination of these things does nothing to help my physique.

So, tomorrow, October 23rd, 2016, is going to be the start of a new period of clean living- healthier eating habits, habitual exercise, water consumption, and relaxation. My two week long school vacation recently began, so I’ll have plenty of time to go for runs, head to the gym, get my work done for Nano and my school back at home, SLEEP, and I’ll get to be in charge of what I eat with full control over the kitchen.

I plan to use these two weeks as a sort of detox so that I can return to school in November with a clean slate. This means vegetables and fruits for snacks, cream-sauce-less protein, lots of water, a smaller intake of simple carbs (baguettes/pasta) and a ban on junk food/fast food. Although I recognize that this will be pretty difficult with my host family’s eating habits, I’m sure I can find ways to eat cleaner versions of their meals or cook my own. Fortunately, I have a gym membership and I’m already an avid Pinterest user, so I can get in my daily exercise and find plenty of healthy recipes online.

I’m ordering a veggie pasta maker online (because zucchini pasta is AMAZING) and I plan to stockpile on supplies this coming week to try my hand at cooking something that doesn’t contain sugar.

Basically, I’m deciding to use this blog as a source of accountability. I’ve never had much luck making myself stick to anything, but there’s something about having something written and posted where you know anyone can see it that makes you feel like you really have to follow through. Even if nobody sees this, at least I know that if I fail and cheat, I’ll have to delete this post or have it forever haunt me as yet another thing I said I’d do but didn’t.

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Autumn Antics

[I am but a Yellow Leaf on a Tree]

On October 13th, only 3 months remained of my semester abroad. Today, I have even less time, and I’m determined to make the most of these last few months and experience as much as I can before I’m shipped back home to Junior Year Stress-ville.
So, a quick recap of the last few weeks since I’ve been pretty absent blogging wise:

Je suis allée aux Bruxelles! walkin-in-bruxelles



Où je me suis assis sur la chaise de Hagrid à l’Éxpo de Harry Potter et j’ai mangé vol-au-vent (aka French Chicken Pot Pie).


J’ai voyagé à Canterbury, l’Angleterre


Où on a erré les rues,


Et j’ai appris quelques choses…

  1. I’m pretty used to French.

I constantly found myself saying “Pardon” as I bumped into people meandering the streets and accidentally asked my server at a restaurant if I could “avoir un peu plus d’eau, s’il vous plaît”. Not to mention that awkward moment at Yankee Candle when I couldn’t figure out the english equivalent to “C’est pas grâve” when the lady told me that they no longer carry my favorite holiday scent.  (Just in case your wondering… It’s called Home for the Holidays and it is basically a wax version of Christmas)

2. It’s better than okay to strut away and go your own way (I’m so sorry that rhymed)

For some reason, my host family was bound and determined to eat Burger King for lunch. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Burger King but A. it’s fast food, and B. I didn’t come all the way to England to eat something I could have any time in the US. I tried to subtly (or not so subtly) make it clear that I wanted something new and suggest other options for lunch, but my family had their hearts set on Burger King. After a bit of frustrated mumbling in English and a few dramatic sighs, I realized that this was my chance to experience Canterbury, and while my host family could come back anytime, I will probably never return to this town in autumn with a wallet full of pounds to spend. I told my host mom that I would meet her in an hour and I marched off to a little restaurant that can best be described as a fitness blogger’s Pinterest board where I ate this: 


You are currently looking at chia seed pancakes with caramelized bananas and toasted coconut popcorn, and yes, it was as delicious as it was aesthetically pleasing. I sat alone at a high top table at this tiny little restaurant, “ The Skinny Breakfast”, journaling in my notebook, listening to coffee-house-acoustic music, and sipping water from a mason jar as I waited for my pancakes. I didn’t feel lonely nor did I feel bad about ditching my family at Burger King; I felt amazing.

Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to go off and explore on your own. Don’t get pulled into doing something that you don’t want to do or you’ll be regretting where you didn’t go for the rest of the day. 

3. God, I miss Fall in New England

Fall is by far my favorite season, with its cozy warm sweaters, beanies, colorful leaves, and seasonal beverages such as the ever famous pumpkin spice latte and my personal favorite, hot apple cider. Fall is the season of  Winter Holiday anticipation, Thanksgiving, and cross country, my favorite time of year to run through the woods as the leaves turn. Even though the leaves do change in France, there aren’t many trees which means no walks through the woods and no matter how hard I look, I can’t seem to find apple cider. Not gonna lie, all I wanted to do was ship myself back home to make Hug-Me-Hot Chocolates for me and my dad while we watch the Bruins game in our Jerseys and smell the roast chicken alive with herbs and the sweet scent of cinnamon as my mom pulls the roasted apples and bird out of the oven on a Saturday evening.

Sunset watching from the fare-way of the golf course behind my house, running across the dam at the State Park after school, Walking home from the bus stop in the afternoon crushing colorful leaves with my riding boots… I probably spent hours during class day dreaming about what I would be doing back home, and not gonna lie, I got a little teary eyed.

Because despite everything that I love about France, nothing makes me as warm and fuzzy-feeling than when I think about home. I treasure every chance I have to go to Lille and drink a latte and even started baking all my favorite sweets that remind me of Fall time in France. Banana bread, chai tea, apple cinnamon swirl coffee cake, cheesecake blondies, and candles make my house here in France smell like home. Nevertheless, I’m still heartbroken when I realize that I’m going to miss the entire fall season. No Thanksgiving, No Halloween, No birthday Bruins game.

I’ll get over it… It’s just the October Blues. I’ll focus on school and writing and I’ll dress myself in oversized sweaters and knee socks so my soul can’t quite fall through my toes, and I’ll keep falling in love with France with each Autumn Day.

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November is Looming

Nanowrimo – An Excuse for Writers to Write

October… the time us crazy writer folk begin to panic because November is looming. We gather our coziest scented candles, pick out a special mug for our caffeinated beverages, stock up on stationary, and start compiling playlists full of classical music. November 1st marks the first day of Nanowrimo and the beginning of a month full of late night word sprints and constant day dreaming about the yet unknown fates of side characters and subplots.

There are two types of Nano writers… the Pantsers and the Planners. Last year, I fell into the former category, but then again I had already written various scenes and had been thinking about my story for six months. When November rolled around, I was pumped and ready to word vomit. This year, I didn’t expect to even try National Novel Writing Month; 1,667 words a day was a struggle last year, and that was back at home in the US when I was injured and had nothing better to do than procrastinate for four hours before sitting down to write.

However, as the Fall season approaches bearing its spiced lattes and holiday anticipation, I’ve been looking for an anchor to cling to to forget that the season will come and go and I won’t be home to see the leaves change or eat Turkey on Thanksgiving. As difficult as it was, nanowrimo was probably the highlight of my sophomore year, and I’ll never forget the feeling of self pride that I felt when my word count hit 50,001. I miss writing, falling in love with the characters in my head, and weaving story lines that even take me by surprise.

So, this year I will once again embark on this psychotic month long journey, but I have a slight problem- I have no project. I have a few ideas for setting and characters, but absolutely no plot. What does this mean? Pantsing is not an option. This means that I must now begin brainstorming, outlining, and organizing…. And mind you, I’m starting late.

If I were an intelligent human being, I would have started the outlining process weeks ago, but alas, I made a spontaneous decision yesterday to settle down for the long haul of Nano and now must come up with a story to tell.


Nevertheless, I’m starting to get excited and cannot wait to go candle shopping and ignoring all other responsibilities while I write. For that reason, I plan to draft the majority of next month’s blog posts now so that I don’t have to go completely dark for 30 days. I’ve also decided that to cut myself some slack, blogging about Nanowrimo will count as part of my daily word count. (Who needs to know 🙂 )

Wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

Mandy Signature


The Meaning of Life

Do More. That’s the answer, not 42.

Existing isn’t living. Existing is breathing and living is doing. Life is meaningless if you never do something more. That doesn’t mean travel to every country or find a cure for an incurable disease. It means don’t do less. Always work towards something, and don’t just work, work hard. Fit 30 hours into a 24 hour day. We can always do more.

People will tell you to wait. But what is the point of waiting? Your limited time will pass while you just sit by and wait. Life isn’t a given, we have no clue when or how we will die. It’s completely unavoidable. Life won’t wait with us.

Make it Count.

Make life worth it. It coincides with doing more. Make everything you do count. There is nothing more wasteful than living a life that has no purpose. Give it purpose. Push your limits and think beyond what you’ve been told to do. Don’t play it safe. By playing it safe, you do nothing and don’t live. Make the most of your time here.

Do what makes you happy. Following the beaten path is meaningless. If you die today wouldn’t you want to make sure everything you’ve done thus far was purposeful. That wasted hour spent worrying about how you’ll afford college could’ve been spent do something you love or meeting new people. Never waste what you have.

There is no meaning unless you create one.

Do more and make it count.

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