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Month in Review: August 2018

August went by incredibly fast for me. As I mentioned in my last monthly review, I started a new job. Thus I spent the first few weeks of August trying to remember all the new names as quickly as I could. Luckily, I really enjoy my new job, so changing jobs has been a great highlight of the month.

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My top 5 favourite self-help books

A few years ago, I was a massive self-help junkie. What started with a crush on a guy that was into meditation and yoga, became a full-fledged love affair not with said guy, but with all things self-development and spirituality. Meditation, yoga and positive affirmations were part of my daily routine. Devouring books on success secrets became my favourite pastime. In these books, I was trying to find an answer. I was searching for that one little nugget of wisdom that would change my life for good. As the years went by, some practices and wisdom stuck, and life became a little better for it. The magic potion for instant success never came though (anyone surprised?!). So, my interest in reading self-help books waned. Over the years I decluttered my living space and many self-help books were exiled to my local charity shop. Yet five books survived the selection process and still grace my shelves to this day. These are books that continue to inspire me and are worth rereading over and over again. If you only ever read five books from the self-help department, these are the ones I suggest.

Big Magic for Creativity

I may have been one of the few people who utterly detested Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-seller Eat Pray Love. The over-sentimental quest for meaning that Gilbert embarked in this autobiographical story seemed self-indulgent and shallow. Big Magic, on the other hand, is a book that surprised me with its gentle approach to creativity. Instead of preaching the idea to give up your job and following your passions, Gilbert offers a much kinder approach to kindling that creative spark in life. In a nutshell, she recommends pursuing your curiosities – in spite of fear -, but without placing too much emphasis on the outcome. The 304 pages in which she nudges you to do so are well worth a read.

Your Money or Your Life for Financial Health

This book is, of course, a classic in the budgeting and personal finance sector. The main message of the book is that financial security means freedom to live a deliberate and meaningful life. Besides explaining the why of good personal finance, the book contains a wealth of practical advice on budgeting, saving and work. Although the book can be a little Americentric (the European tax system works quite differently for example), it is a book that I flip through at least once a year to fine-tune my approach to personal finance.

Who Says You Can’t? You Do for Motivation

Written by yet another millennial lifestyle entrepreneur Daniel Chidiac, this book can easily be mistaken for yet another book that sells empty promises to gullible people. What I found refreshing in Chidiac’s book is that it doesn’t preach miracles, but instead praises good ol’ fashioned hard work. The book is fluffed up with inspirational quotes, but beneath the façade of selling the American Dream, lie some down-to-earth practical steps to achieving your goals. Whenever I approach a daunting new project in life or feel stuck in my direction, I come to this book to find a little boost off motivation.

A New Earth for Spirituality

Eckhart Tolle is probably the most well-known spiritual teacher of our generation. His book The Power of Now is a powerful testament to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. As the best way to learn about meditation is meditating, A New Earth offers a more insightful look into the world of spirituality. Unlike the other books in this list, A New Earth does not contain practical tips and advice.  Rather, it takes the reader on a spiritual journey that is both inspiring and deeply insightful. Considering I have reread the book front to back three times already, it is clear to say it holds some wisdom that stands the test of time.

The Gifts of Imperfection for Living Life

I love the concept of grace and apply it rigorously to my life. In this book Bene Brown capitalises on the concept of grace, sharing her research on living a good life. She found that living well rests on ten tenants. These include cultivating self-compassion, cultivating a mindset of sufficiency and letting go of anxiety as a status symbol. Overall this book will leave you feeling good about being imperfect. The message is loud and clear. Letting go of other people’s expectations will set you free.

As you can see, my favourite self-help books contain practical advice or a gentle approach to living life well. Any books I have read in the past that promised quick fixes, short-term solutions or chewed-on clichés failed to stand the test of time for me. Instead these five gems are books I can return to in the years to come for advice and inspiration on many aspects of my life.

What are you favourite self-help books? 

Frankfurt: the ultimate travel guide

Frankfurt is a city I am intimately familiar with and return to on a regular basis. Growing up, I would travel to the city several times a year to visit my grandparents. Whenever I go back now, I feel like coming home to a city that holds so many beautiful memories. Although Frankfurt is not known as a tourist hotspot, its popularity has risen over the last few years. And when you know where to go, Frankfurt is truly a wonderful destination for all things shopping, eating, and sightseeing. Over the years, I have discovered all the amazing places the city has to offer. So, in this post, I share my insights and tips on making your trip to Frankfurt one for the records.

When to go

The beauty of Frankfurt is that many of its attractions are indoors. That makes it the perfect city to visit year-round. Nonetheless, there are some periods throughout the year where this city truly comes to life. During the month of May the trees across the river Main bloom with beautiful dusty pink flowers, making it the perfect time to stroll along the river and taking in the sights of skyscrapers. An added bonus is that the weather tends to be warm and pleasant during this month.

Alternatively, in August the city celebrates the Mainfest, which gives visitors and locals alike the chance to celebrate along the river Main with the help of food stalls, activities for children and, of course, lots of beer. For a winter trip, consider coming in the weeks before Christmas when the city boasts an impressive Christmas Market on the old medieval square in the city center.

What to see

Frankfurt is particularly popular with travelers from Asia, thanks to its impressive skyline and financial credentials (the city houses the European Central Bank). Indeed, the view of the city skyline from the other side of the river is a must-see when in Frankfurt. Head to bridge ‘Eiserner Steg’ for a hard-to-beat view of the city skyline and the river Main, while being entertained by plenty of street artists. From the bridge, you can walk into the city center towards the ‘Römerberg’. This square hosts one of the most important landmarks of the city. With much of the old town destroyed during WWII, the facades of the medieval buildings Römer are one of the few authentic medieval pieces of architecture the city offers. Once you head further into the city center, the shopping can begin.

What to buy

If you love shopping, then Frankfurt is the city for you! As a child, I did my clothes shopping almost exclusively on trips to my grandparents and I still enjoy shopping more in Frankfurt than in any other city. The big shopping street Zeil host every type of shop under the sun and makes for a great afternoon strolling from store to store. For beautiful, organic and fair-trade clothing that you will not find anything else, make your way to Hess Natur. This shop sells high-quality basics that would fit great into any wardrobe. In fact, most of my work wardrobe was established with pieces from this shop.

Right next to Hess Natur, you will find the eco home-ware store Grüne Erde. Stepping into this shop, you are welcomed by delicious aroma scents and lovely homeware pieces. As I usually travel with only a carry-on luggage, I have yet to pick up something from Grüne Erde, but the store is well worth the visit, whether you buy something or not. Lastly, if you don’t live in Germany stopping at any of the Alnatura branches is a great option for anything related to organic food, healthy treats, and nutritious supplements. Although this is not a Frankfurt-specific shop, it is really a must for any visit to a German city.

Where to eat

Frankfurt, of course, offers loads of traditional German grub and a trip to a traditional pub cannot be missed. I recommend heading to Heidi’s Restaurant & Bar, a place I have been to many times in my youth (when it was still called Affentorschänke). This restaurant mainly caters to carnivores, but can easily whip up a simple vegan meal that will taste just as German as their schnitzel and sausage staples. If you find yourself in this area of town (Alt-Sachsenhausen) after your meal, pop into some of the traditional pubs and bars for a good laugh (or genuine entertainment if German folk music is your thing!). For a more modern and vegan-friendly restaurant, I suggest Vevay, near the European Central Bank. Most of their menu is vegan and all of the food is fresh, healthy and super tasty!

For the grand finale, I would like to suggest the Kleinmarkthalle, which is by far my favorite recommendation in the whole of Frankfurt. This indoor food market not only has plenty of traditional market stalls but also sells local food items and dishes from around the world. My go-to stall in the Kleinmarkthalle is Lebe Gesund. Here you will find organic German sourdough bread, as well as delicious vegan cookies, pastries, and croissants. They also serve a warm meal each day that is perfect for quick lunch on your way into town.

If you are heading to Frankfurt any time soon, I hope this post helps you find some inspiration for places to see, shop at and eat in.  Frankfurt has so much to offer if you know where to look and all of these places are well worth the visit. I particularly recommend the Eiserner Steg bridge, the Hess Natur shop and the Kleinmarkthalle, as these three spots are always on my go-to list when I return to Frankfurt.