Facing Fears

I’ve been haunted by something for years and years now. It’s been a recurring thing in my life, something that would creep up on me when I was least expecting it. Something that would make me totally and utterly scared, fill me with such a panic that I froze with angst. I’ve always feared this particular thing, but it had gotten particularly worse in my teenage years. With other, I thought more important, things going on in my life I survived by living like it didn’t exist, like there was no problem. I couldn’t think, talk or hear someone talk about it. When I saw something that made me remember my fear I felt sick and panicked. It even went as far that I couldn’t hear anyone say the word. Dentist. Tandarts. Yes, I had a severe phobia of the dentist. 

The good news is, I’m doing better, the bad news is, I let it control me for a lot of years. So why am I sharing this with you? You might not have a problem with the dentist at all. You might even like it (are there people out there who enjoy it?). That’s not why I’m writing about this, it’s because everyone has fears, whether it be big or small, important or not. Fear is human, it’s also needed and important to feel fear. Fear helps us humans survive. It’s a way to recognize things that could endanger us. However, fears that are taking over your life or harming you in whatever way, are not OK. 

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Just to make it clear to you, I know loads of people dislike going to the dentist, they might even feel nervous or skip an appointment every now and then. Not saying that I’m something special, but I had gone past that stage of being scared, it had gotten to a whole other level. As I said I couldn’t talk about it, think about it, I had panic attacks about it, I dreamed about it (let’s call that a nightmare) and even worse.. I had stopped going to my appointments all together. My mom, supportive that she is, had talked to me about it for the last year and tried making me appointments, but every time I couldn’t go through with it, for whatever reason. 

I have had terrible experiences at the dentist. The dentist itself is a friendly and skilled guy. I’ve been going to him since I was young and he knows me and my family well. It’s the procedures that made me scared in the first place. My sensitivity for sound, smells and pain made it worse. I couldn’t handle the feeling and experience, I remember (almost) fainting one time. I had panic attacks (picture me sobbing hysterically in the room) when I tried to go. The dentist recognized I had a problem. I had a phobia.

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And then it was enough. I needed to go. My mom had made an appointment for herself and I knew about it. It was right before a vacation and I had some discomfort in my mouth and felt so worried about it. So I made myself go to her appointment (accompanied by my mom). Tip: go with someone you trust. The dentist knew about my fear (we called him before I came) and took his time explaining everything. He also didn’t use any tools except a mirror. Turned out I had two cavities. That could be fixed. Long story short. One cavity turned out to be much worse. I had inflammation under my tooth. It needed to go. It took a handful of appointments to get everything fixed. He described some drugs to make me calm and less worried, which helped a lot. I got through the process and each time had more courage to keep coming back. And the thing is, my fear became less and less.

Things that helped me:

talking about it with someone

making a plan and sticking to it (face your fears)

have someone there to support you

having the dentist know about it

taking some drugs the first couple of times

writing down my thoughts and feelings

doing it multiple times 

accepting that you’re scared 

It’ll be something that I’ll need to work on for the rest of my life and no I’ll never like going to the dentist. As long as I’m okay with going to my appointments once or twice a year, having a dentist that supports me and is careful, I’ll be okay. So don’t ever think there’s no hope. Never ever give up, because there’s always something you can do, there’s always hope. Don’t feel like you have to conquer your fears alone; find someone that understands and will help you. Fear is a part of life, but it’s not supposed to be consuming your life. When you feel ready to tackle it, go for it! I believe in you! 

Have you conquered any fears? Or are you still struggling with it?

200 Blog Followers!

It never was and it never will be about the numbers, about how many followers I have. I can say that because I started this blog because I love writing, I love sharing my life and I have loads and loads of creative ideas that I needed an outlet for. However, when I reached two hundred followers yesterday my heart skipped a beat. I love that there are 200 of you, my readers, who are following what I write and what I do on this blog. So for this day it is about the numbers, about the 200 of you who have subscribed to this blog and everyone who is reading it!

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I am truly grateful for each and every one of you out there who has been reading my blog! I started in August 2012 and almost two years later I am still writing, still loving it (maybe even more) and I am so excited for the journey that’s ahead!

So, thanks. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much!

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How I make most of my Summer

It’s summer, it’s warm outside, I’m home for summer vacation and there are a lot of things I have the time and space for now that I’m home from school. Since I don’t have to worry about things like doing homework, being on time and getting things done I’m using that time for different activities. Things that you might like to do as well. Here are five summer-y things I like (to do).

Read a lot of books
I’ve recently dedicated an entire blogpost to the books I bought for summer. You can read that here if you haven’t already. I’ve secretly added some more books to that collection since I was going through them on such a high speed that it wouldn’t last me very long. The book I’m reading now is called The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks by Emily Lockhart. It’s set in a boarding school and it’s witty, interesting, lighthearted and sometimes very philosophical. It’s a perfect book for summer reading. Why not keep your brain in check whilst relaxing outside in the sun with a book?!

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Drink a lot of water
Drinking water is good for you, that’s what everyone says and everyone knows. It’s also easier said than done for me, because even though I’m always thirsty I can’t seem to make myself drink lots of water. The solution for me? Don’t buy any juices (what you don’t have you can’t drink), add fruits like lemon and lime to you water, fill a pitcher with the amount of water you’d like to drink during that day and start drinking until you’re finished that evening. It’s working for me and (I know how cliché this sounds) I’m actually seeing the effects of drinking 1,5 to 2L of water on my skin, hair and energy level. You can do it!

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Watch movies
I’d describe myself as a TV show kind of girl, not really a movie kind of person (although I love them). During the school year I can’t seem to make time to watch a movie the whole way through. Since I’m more relaxed now and feel like I have the time to watch whatever I want to I’m watching movies. The last movie I watched is called Frozen, because everyone has been talking about it! Coming from a girl who hardly ever watches Dinsey movies or animated movies for that matter, I thought it was funny and cleverly made!

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Spend time outside
Maybe it’s blazing hot, maybe you don’t feel like it, but make yourself spend time outside. Feel the summers breeze through your hair, the sun on your skin and the smells in the air. Take a book and read in the shade, go on a bike ride when it’s cool outside, spend time swimming or laying on the beach and most of all enjoy the beauty of nature. My favorite is eating breakfast or dinner outside in the garden with my family.

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Writing and journaling
You don’t have to start a blog (although, why not, if you’ve been thinking about it, this is a perfect time!) but maybe you’ve always wanted to start a journal, or maybe you have some great ideas or memories that you’d like to remember. Go get yourself a journal or notebook and start writing away. Journaling isn’t only a great way for remembering things, it’s also a way to let go of things that are filling up your head. My tip for writing is, write like nobody is ever going to read it. Write with your heart and emotions and worry about the flow or grammar later if you ever need to. Have fun with it! You can even make a summer journal and add photo’s, movie tickets and drawings to it.

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Trying new food
Whether you’re on vacation and there’s something on the menu you’ve never tried before, or you’re at home making dinner for the family. Go outside of your comfort zone this summer, try new ingredients, new items and new food. Maybe your local (farmers) market will have some ingredients you’ve never tried. Search for new recipes like I did yesterday and prepare yourself something delicious. It’s all about the fun of trying! I made portobello mushrooms stuffed with goat’s cheese, green pesto and pine nuts baked in the oven. It. Was. Delicious. Definitely trying the mushrooms again!

Enjoy the summer, wherever you are in the world!

 

Catie’s Kitchen: Sweet potatoes, Fish & Samphire

I promised my parents one day that I would cook dinner. This is something I often do during the weekends or when I’m home for a break. I love cooking in their big, clean kitchen, with all the right utensils and my moms support if I need it. I searched the web for a recipe that I’d like to try and I came across this one with a sweet potato. Since we live in a rural, coastal area, samphire is locally grown here. After a mid day hike we picked up some samphire from our local farm and I decided to add this to the recipe. It ended up being this: roasted sweet potato with filling, a Dutch kind of cod coated with dough (we call it ‘Lekkerbek’ which means someone who loves refined food) and samphire. 

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Roasted sweet potatoes (3 persons)

- 3 big sweet potatoes

- (olive) oil

- salt and pepper

- goats cheese (as much as you’d like)

- a couple of spring onions (I used about 5)

- a couple of hands of rucola

- two big tomatoes

The recipe didn’t ask for this but, I also added some fresh chive from our vegetable garden. 

Get out your baking dish and grease it with some oil. Wash the potatoes and coat them in the oil as well. Poke some holes in each potato with a fork. Put the potatoes in the baking dish and in the oven for about 45-55 minutes at 200 degrees celsius (392 fahrenheit). Check in on them every now and then and poke them with a fork to check if they’re getting any softer. They’re ready when they’re soft and squishy. 

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When the potatoes are in the oven you can start on the filling. Crumble your cheese and put it in a bowl. Cut the spring onions, after washing them, and add them to the cheese. Also add your washed and chopped chives and start cutting your tomatoes. Get rid of the seeds and insides and cut the outer parts into small cubes. Add everything to the mixture and finish it off with some pepper and salt. 

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Cod
I used the special Dutch kind called ‘Lekkerbekje’. It’s the kind of fish you’d use for fish and chips if you were British, but any kind of white fish, like cod, would do. I greased a baking dish with oil and put two big pieces of fish in to the dish. I put them in the oven with the potatoes on the same heat for about 10-15 minutes. You’ll see the fish turn a golden brown when it’s finished.

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Samphire (3 person)
- 150 gram samphire

I used the samphire as a side dish, therefore 150 grams will do. Rinse the samphire with some water. Put some water in a bowl and let it get to a boil. When it boils add the samphire for about 10 minutes. When it’s done get rid of the water and you’re ready.

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Finishing touches
I added a handful of rucola to each plate and put the potato on top. Cut down the middle of the potato and add the cheese and tomato mixture. Finish the plate with the samphire and cod and you’re ready to eat!

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Enjoy your meal! Tag me on Instagram and Twitter #catieskitchen @catiemccartneyblog

Catie’s Kitchen: Cheese Pie (Savory Pie)

Since you all seemed to love my recent recipe in the last Catie’s Kitchen I thought I’d share another one of my favorite recipes. This one entered our family a lot of years ago. I remember my mom making this for the first time and we all instantly loved it. It has been one of those recipes that we keep getting back to, it’s been there during bad times and good times. Okay, so if that wasn’t cheesy enough for you, let’s get on with baking this cheese pie, or as we say in Dutch „kaastaart”. 

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Ingrediënts:

- 4 pieces of puff pastry (or enough to cover a baking dish)

- 4 eggs

- some pepper

- cheese slices (I used 7 slices)

- some butter, oil or non-stick spray

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Preheat your oven to 170ºC  (338ºF). Get out your baking dish and grease it however you like. This will help you get the pie out of the dish after baking it. Cover the bottom of the dish with puff pastry and make sure to create a little side as well. Use a knife to make some cuts in the puff pastry as shown on the photo. 

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Lay the slices of cheese on top of the puff pastry and cover the whole baking dish. I used about 7 big slices, but you can you as many as you’d like. More cheese is better in my opinion. Mix the four eggs and some pepper together and add the mixture to the baking dish. Spread it evenly over the cheese.   

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That’s it! Put your baking dish in the oven for 30 minutes at 170 degrees celcius. When the top has a golden color your pie is finished. This cheese pie can be eaten hot or cold, it’s truly delicious either way! You can store the leftovers in the fridge if there are any!

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Have a nice meal! Be sure to use the #catieskitchen if you recreate this recipe!

Catie’s Bookshelf: Summer of 2014

I can hear you all say “Catie, what are you reading this summer?” Well, what a coincidence. In this blogpost I’m sharing the books I’ve bought for this summer. I won’t bore you with summaries that you can find anywhere on the internet. I’m just sharing the books I’ve ordered (some haven’t arrived yet, that’s why they’re not on the photo’s) and why I want to read them. Maybe you’ll like some of them and can read them with me! Together I spend 57 euro’s on these books and I bought them online. Let’s start with this first edition of Catie’s Bookshelf!

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Robyn Schneider – Severed heads, broken hearts
I’ve never read anything from this author but I’ve heard so much about it. This book has a different title nowadays. It’s called ‚The beginning of everything’. I’ve bought it with the old title because it was cheaper and it’s the same story. I love books that revolve about changes, tragedies or events and I find it enjoyable to read books that take place in a school setting.

Emily Lockhart – We were liars
The title sucked me in to buying this one. And because I’ve been recommended it so many times. It’s quite a well known book and it seems intriguing. Whenever there’s a mystery or something you don’t know as a reader I feel like I need to read this book to figure out what’s going on. Also, it’s about privileged kids on a private island. I love a setting like that.

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Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor & Park
I couldn’t help myself, so I’ve already read this one. This one is an easy read, it has two main characters and it’s a love story. Yes, it’s about teenage love, yes it takes place in 1986 and no it’s definitely not cliché. I found myself sucked into this story, the characters grew on me and I was so surprised by the plot twist. Defenitely recommend this one. Also, don’t be scared by the cursing in the first few pages, it’ll change.

Beth Revis – Across the Universe
Fantasy, an amazing book cover and a mystery story. What else could I ask for? I bought this because I heard essiebutton on YouTube talk about it. It’s about space but it’s not a space-kind-of-book, apparently. I’m really excited to read this.

Emily Lockhart – The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks
Since I bought ‘we were liars’ from the same author and I saw great reviews on this book as well, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s another school setting, but this time my favorite kind to read about: boarding school. It’s about growing up and making choices. Also, John Green (author and Youtuber) recommended it.

Sharon Creech – Bloomability
This might be an easy read and maybe I’m too old for this book (technically). Although, it’s for ‘young adults’ and I’m still young right? I wanted to read this one because it’s another boarding school book (see the obsession?) and I’d like to have one easy read for the summer. A book you can take to the beach or read before you go to bed. I think this’ll be great.

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E.M Froster – The Machine Stops
I found this short story by accident when I was searching for books with a futuristic theme. I love thinking about the future, about mankind and technology. I’m not sure I can handle the old fashioned English (this was published in 1909) but I’ll definitely give it a try. It’s about humans being dependent on technology.

That’s it for this summer! What are you reading? And what do you recommend?

DIY: wooden coaster

Coasters, everyone needs them, almost everyone has a pair of them and they’re usually nothing special at all. Until I saw these coasters from a store called Rebelli. They’re simple and yet very unique. Made out of wooden beads this coaster is not only practical but also very pretty. So why don’t I try to make one myself?

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You’ll need:

- wooden beads (as many as you need to make a circle big enough)
- paint
– twine
– a jar
– thin wire
– a stick

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I put some thin wire through one of the beads and dipped it into the paint. You can paint the beads however you like. I decided to paint one bead completely blue and leave the rest of them unpainted. Let the bead(s) dry  for a while  (I used a jar for this) and grab your twine when you’re done. 

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Put as many beads as you need on the twine to make a circle. You don’t want to leave space between the beads, it has to be tight. Tie the twine in a knot and cut off the ends. If the holes in the beads are big enough you can hide the little ends of twine in the holes.

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And then you’re done. Enjoy your new, homemade coaster!

Catie’s Kitchen: Summer Salad

It’s time for another recipe from Catie’s Kitchen. I’ve been really enjoying eating a lot of fresh fruits the last couple of months. I’ve used some recipes as inspiration to create my own summer-y salad incorporating one of my favorite fruits; raspberries. The great thing about salads is that they’re diverse. You can eat them as the main meal or as a side dish or even as a snack. The ingredients are changeable as well, if you don’t like raspberries, switch them for blackberries!

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Ingredients:
- lettuce
– cucumber
– brie (soft cheese)
– raspberries
– pine nuts

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I started off with three kinds of lettuce from our vegetable garden. You can use whatever kind of lettuce you have or prefer. Make sure to wash them and cut them in to smaller pieces before adding them in to a bowl. Cut up as much cucumber as you like (I used almost a whole cucumber for 3 people) and add these to the lettuce. Start adding small (bite size) pieces of brie to the salad and grab your raspberries as well. Add the raspberries and finish it off with some pine nuts for some extra texture. This salad doesn’t need any dressing (no oil, no dressing, no salt) because the flavor of all the ingredients will be tasty enough!

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You can switch the brie for goats cheese, the raspberries for blackberries or the pine nuts for walnuts if that’s what you prefer! Present it as a meal, side dish or snack and enjoy your amazingly colorful and delicious summer salad!

If you make this salad tag me on Instagram or Twitter and use the #catieskitchen

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DIY: beach cruiser

I’ve been secretly dreaming about owning a beach cruiser for the past 6 years, since the first time I saw one in real life. It has something to do with the style, the smooth design and the association with the (California) beach. I’ve never actually put down money to buy one since I already own a bicycle and beach cruisers are quite costly. Until two weeks ago, when my eyes spotted an online advertisement for a second hand beach cruiser.

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The beach cruiser was definitely used, it needed some oil, a new inner tire and some TLC (time, love and care). I was so ready to give it all that it needed.. and a little more. So, I put down a good (bargain) offer and drove the same day to retrieve it. I was beyond excited! 

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I sent it off to get repaired the same week. It came back looking better than it did before, but still scratched, filthy and in that obnoxious gold color with Haribo advertisement all over it. So, I took the plunge and bought some off-white paint that’s suitable for metal and rusty things.

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I started the process by cleaning the beach cruiser with a wet towel. Some of the filth and orange spray paint came off and it already looked nicer. Using a big paint brush I painted the whole thing in one go with an even (thin) layer of paint. I let it dry overnight and painted it with another layer the next day. The paint dripped on some places and it’s not perfect (as in, you can see it’s painted), but my attempt at painting it the best I could definitely paid off. It’s looking great and I absolutely love it.

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It’s kind of a daunting task and you’ll need some time and patience to complete it, but it’s so worth it! If you’re interested in painting your own bicycle, I bought the paint at a local (D.I.Y) store for around thirteen euros. If you’re ever bored of your bicycle or you’ve bought a second hand one, paint it a new color and it changes the whole thing!

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The Most Productive Day

If you’ve read my last couple of blogposts you might already know that I am currently in the process of doing a graduate internship and writing my bachelor thesis. Whether it’s writing a thesis, doing your homework, working (from home) or doing everyday chores, it’s best to get things done in a productive and efficient way. You don’t want to spend extra hours on a project because you’re not spending your time right. Think about the sun that’s shining and all the other things you could be doing, don’t you want to be productive? Well, if that wasn’t convincing enough, let me share some ideas with you to make most of your day. And I’m sorry this is such a long blogpost, I just really had a lot to say about this! 

Start the day with a routine. I’m the first person to tell you that I am in no way a morning person. I feel tired, I just don’t function right before 11 o’clock. What’s helped me through the years is having a set routine for those early hours. When my alarm clock rings, I sit up in bed and take 5-10 minutes to start the day with my daily devotional book and I take the time to get mentally ready. Then I put on a morning music playlist and get dressed. The music helps me to feel more awake and the clothes I put on are ones I picked out the night before. I make breakfast (either oatmeal, yoghurt or fruit) and sit down behind my laptop to watch the Shaytards on YouTube and eat my breakfast. When I’m done with this routine all I have to do is pack my stuff, brush my teeth and head out of the door. I don’t have to think about it at all, I know what I’m doing.

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Set your alarm clock and get out of bed. Set your alarm at a reasonable hour. If you set it too early you might feel like you have all the time in world which makes you act slower and in fact might get you late, or you might have time extra that you don’t know what to do with (when does that happen?!). On the other hand when you set your alarm clock late you feel rushed and chaotic. Either way is fine if that’s what you like. I know I need 45 minutes to do my morning routine, which helps me figure out at what time I need to wake up. Don’t hit the snooze button, if it’s not the weekend train yourself to get out of bed when that alarm clock rings. Those ten extra minutes won’t help to make you feel less tired. 

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Make a to-do list the day before. This can also be first thing in the morning but I usually make a to-do list the night before. That’s when I’m still in the workflow from that current day and thus I know what needs to be done and how to prioritize things. I’d like my to-do list to be specific. The most important item is on top and the least important item is last. That way I know what to do first. Make smaller sub items for the big ones, so that you can tick off small steps on the way to accomplishing a big task.

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Make your bed and clean your workspace. A study has shown that kids who make their bed in the morning do better in school. I find that easy to believe because when you’ve already accomplished a task for the day it makes you feel good, it gives you power. Also a clean workspace (whether it be your home, office or anywhere else) will help you to concentrate more and be less sidetracked. I know some people like working in chaotic workspaces, but think about it, your mind has to register all the things around you and try to figure out that project your working on. Note: there’s a different between a creative/personal space and pure chaos. 

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And finally ‘know yourself’. Figure out how many hours in a day you can be really productive. If that’s 3 hours, then plan those 3 hours carefully. Make sure you get through the most important items on your list. If you’re easily distracted, figure out what makes you distracted. Some distractions are easily fixed. Limit your facebook visits, don’t read your e-mail every five minutes etcetera. And always take breaks. You’re more productive if you take breaks, your mind and body need that time to reset and relax. Go outside, listen to some music, talk to someone or make some tea. Whatever you do, enjoy the break and make sure you feel relaxed when you get back to work.

That’s it! These are, obviously, my opinions and advice, so if you don’t agree or if these don’t work for you, don’t worry about it. Figure out what works for you and you’ll do great! Have an awesome productive day!