Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015


I barely remember 2015. Looking for photos for this post was strange because I genuinely couldn't remember some of the things that took place. For example I forgot that for three months of 2015 I had blonde hair, it doesn't seem real.

I'm going to start with the negatives of 2015 first so that they're out of the way.

This was my first full year of being a working 'adult' and I think that's what's been the big change. It's been a bit of an odd year in that sense. I started 2015 feeling optimistic and putting heartbreak behind me. Towards the end of this year I feel like I've just run out of steam and that I've disappointed myself a little professionally. It's been very much an exhausting year, it's been an uphill struggle into the working world but hopefully I can be much more prepared for 2016.

That would be the low points: struggling with a work life balance, wanting to perform in my job but also wanting to have some semblance of a life outside of work. I let struggling at work affect my personal life in the sense that I got a little sidetracked when it came to taking care of myself. Blogging fell completely off my radar. I lost all interest and drive. It's been a real mixed bags. Some days I felt on top of the moon and other days getting out of bed and being focused felt like the biggest struggle. Loneliness crept in a little and that sense that I'm just running around in a hamster wheel endlessly. 

The upsides of this year are thankfully more numerous:

  • I graduated for the second time. I now have the letters 'BA, MSc' after my name which is one hell of an achievement
  • I celebrated my four year anniversary of being self harm free, which I think I'm more proud of than graduating with a merit (see here)
  • I got a promotion and a pay rise at work
  • Being able to visit my family in Brazil two times

But the foundation of the 'best of 2015' is two fold: my friends and finding a sense of inner happiness and peace.

Once again I have been so fortunate (and hashtag blessed) to have an amazing group of women around me whom I adore. I've always been a girl's girl and I love having such strong and supportive females around me. They've made me laugh, cheered me on and have helped me in ways they probably didn't realise. I don't think this year would have been the same without them. Whether it's a weekend brunch at mine, or a coffee after work they are always there. Thanks girls, you know who you are!

Secondly, I've turned a corner in finding my inner sense of happiness and contentment. I put that down to learning to run and just learning how to be alone. In January I set myself the mission of being able to run 5km. In November I ended up doing my first 10km run. It pretty much blew my mind. I've also accepted that being single is not a curse. I've been on funny Tinder dates, some terrible Tinder dates or just spent time alone. Dating and being in a relationship is no longer my priority. My own happiness and that of people around me is my priority. I'm learning to look after myself; whether that's by going to acupuncture or going for a run or eating that burger, I am trying to enjoy my life the way I want to.

So what are my 2016 resolutions?

- Focus on being successful at work, keep kicking ass and stay calm
- Travel more
- Continue to spend time with people that are good for me and whom I care about
- Continue to nurture the relationship I have with myself, both physically and mentally

I don't know what 2016 is going to bring. I don't want to expect too much, as long as I have my friends, my drive in my job and well being anything else that happens is just one great bonus.

I hope you all have a good start into 2016. Remember to stay focused, work on being independent and surround yourself with good people. 

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts" Eleanor Roosevelt 

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Centro


Downtown Rio, also called Centro, is an intriguing and curious part of Rio de Janeiro. Once the bustling social, financial and commercial centre of Rio it has a colourful past and has undergone some recent developments over the years. Most noticeably the opening of a new museum.

We went exploring on a blistering hot Sunday morning. Centro is currently the financial district of Rio, the Petrobras (google 'Petrobras scandal' for hours of diversions) head quarters are here, and sky high office blocks leap up from everywhere. This means that on the weekend there is nobody around. It fees like a zombie apocalypse. But still we braved the eerily quite (and slightly creepy) trip downtown for the sake of my younger sibling.  The purpose for our trip was for my photography mad brother to get 'the shot' of the iconic stained glass of the Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião. From the outside the church looks like a beehive, inside it's modern but it's still a surprisingly restful and peaceful place.


Dying of sun exposure and grouchy because we (read: my brother and I) were hungry we thankfully stumbled upon a little street food and organic fair. Within the first second of our arrival my brother made a beeline for the 'Espirito do Proco' stand and in about two bites devoured a pork and apple sauce sandwich.

This market was clearly where all the people were hiding out. When we arrived and when I took the pictures it wasn't very busy but once we'd had the chance to look around and eat (again for my brother...) the place was getting full.

My Portuguese speaking is very limited (I can order food and caipirinhas but that's about it), but having studied French and a bit of Spanish my understanding of spoken Portuguese isn't so bad. So despite my speech impediment the people at the market were so friendly and engaging. They patiently explained to us in slow and steady Portuguese, the different things they were selling and some even talked English with us, which is quite rare. It was great to see people so passionate about their creations, and to take the time with us.


When I first visited the downtown area I didn't really see the appeal. Living in Ipanema we're very spoilt, whereas parts of downtown are full of ugly office blocks and skyscrapers (glass facades à la Donald Trump).

But then there are stunning old buildings straight out of the 19th century when people first arrived in Rio. Many of these haven't been renovated for a long and for the most part nobody lives in them. There's a certain morbid charm to everything. It's sad to see these beautiful buildings so neglected and to imagine that's how all of Rio used to look. I don't know what possesses people to build such ugly glass buildings sometimes.

Christmas has approached so quickly this year and I'm not really in the Christmas spirit, we don't have a tree this year and the weather isn't exactly wintery. However, as a family Christmas present we're off on a little trip to a town called Paraty. My parents have been twice already and have said it's beautiful. I'll most likely be doing a blog post but in the meantime you can follow my adventures on Instagram.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas, here's to good health and being with your loved ones.

x
Nina 


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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Museu do Amanhã


Even from my first visit to Brazil in December 2014 I realised very quickly that in Brazil, if you're going to celebrate something you might as well go all out or why bother at all? 

On Saturday the Museu do Amanhã opened it's doors to the public. The Museu do Amanhã translates as The Museum of Tomorrow. It's unlike any other museum I've ever heard of, it's a sort of hybrid science museum focusing on the evolution of humanity over the next 50 years with a focus on sustainability, climate change, population growth and longevity. The displays are all digital and interactive displays, I believe that there is actually only one physical exhibition piece. The museum uses natural resources to powers itself such as solar energy and water from the nearby Guanabara Bay for the cooling system.

The Museu do Amanhã is situated in the Praça Mauá, in the old port of Rio de Janeiro which has recently undergone a massive redevelopment. The Museu de Arte Do Rio (the Museum of Art) is also located here with free entry to the public on certain days, making this space a new culture hub.


The Brazilians love to party, so what better way to celebrate the grand opening of such a groundbreaking museum than by having an all day, all weekend event? We didn't dare brave the afternoon heat so headed down in the late afternoon, we arrived just in time to see a performance group singing and dancing on stilts. There's never a dull moment in Rio de Janeiro.

In celebration of the opening of the museum, it was free entry (after the opening weekend entry will cost R$10 - £1.70/$2.50) The queue to get in was snaking around the whole exhibition park so we passed it up and decided to walk around the museum instead. The structure is amazing, it reminds me of a whale skeleton. It also looked fantastic in the late afternoon sun, and the star sculpture in the middle of the water looked completely ethereal.


Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 2016 Olympic Games and walking around the museum you get that sense of excitement and pride. Rio and Brazil receive a lot of negative coverage in the press which is a constant source of frustration to me because there is so much more to Brazil than what you read in the paper.

I've never been in a city of 6 million people before, and it can be so overwhelming. But what I loved the most about being at the museum was that there were all sorts of people there. It goes to show that art, culture and knowledge is and should be available to everyone. Everyone no matter what their background is can come and enjoy the space. I've never seen such a melting pot of cultures. There are some great social divides in the country but here everyone was laughing, being with their families, enjoying the park and sharing their pride at being Brazilian. 

In the evening a bossa nova band - Bossa Negra took to the stage, the whole crowd knew every word to every song and was singing along. All around us people were samba dancing, having drinks and just having a good time. It really touched my heart and almost made me choke up. There are people here who have very little and who struggle in their life but they still come to these events, listen to the music and enjoy the moment. 

There is such a love of living here and it constantly overwhelms me, we Europeans don't seem to celebrate life the same way and always find something to complain about. I'm going to try and take as much of this Brazilian spirit with me as possible because it's infectious. We were all grinning from ear to ear on the way home and happily fell into our beds (that might have been the super strong caipirinha I had...). Hopefully I'll get the chance to go into the museum before I go home but by the sounds of it the hype is going to be around for a long time.


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