Our Seoul in black and white

Have you ever wondered if, maybe, just maybe, some pictures are able to capture a little bit of a person’s soul? Sometimes, I think they do – when the photographer knows exactly which moment to snap the picture, catching his subject in a perfect still moment where their soul shows.

I’ve seen it in smiles, in gazes, in the way that the wind blows our hair. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s capturing these moments that has been my passion these days.

sara in black and whitesara and maia in black and whitemaia in black and white

All of this because, finally, about 5 months later, I decided to really go through all of my pictures from South Korea. Saying it took a while would be an understatement, and I might have used up a tissue or two wiping hypothetical tears because I miss that city so much, but I finally pulled through. After picking some of my absolute favorites out of mine and my friend Mariana’s camera roll, it somehow all came together in black and white – a style I am not usually one to pick but found so fitting in these pictures.

 SM artists at SM Town Mari and sara with BTS Maia in Gangnam

I always have said that, although black and white rarely fails to make a picture look good, it also gives it a gloomy vibe which I haven’t really ever wanted my pictures to have. However, looking at these, and as I write these words, I can finally understand why this style portrays these pictures in just the right way. And that is because of my very personal feelings toward them. You see, looking at these memories, 5 months after living them, brings me a strong sense of longing.

I miss that city like I have never missed a place before. I miss the friends I made there and the ones I left there. I miss the moments we all shared together in Noraebang and AirBnB houses, crowded streets and spicy food restaurants eating lamb skewers like crazy. It wasn’t just one thing or two about that trip that made it amazing. It was a lot of small, special things, and special people.

 Beautiful sara in Gyeongbokgung Maia in Gyeongbokgung Rae and her tattoo in black and whiteRae in Seoul Sara and Maia at a noraebang

Sometimes, I go talk to my friend and tell her ‘Mari, I miss Seoul so much today’. Sometimes, she will come up to me and tell me how she listened to a song and it made her think of Seoul too. And we will reminisce and hope that one day we get to go back. We hope that the friends we left there update us on what is going on over there, and send us pictures of the smallest things that make our hearts full of longing skip a beat.

Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Beautiful mug and flower at arriate flower café

And that is why black and white makes these pictures come alive. It brings out the nostalgia and longing towards a city that probably took a piece of me and kept it there safe and sound. Until another day, hopefully soon, when I go back and find it again.

Seoul (& Busan),

보고 싶다

(I miss you)

P.S.: Almost all of these pictures are from my lovely friend Mariana, so head on over to her instagram if you would like to see more!

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Inspiration on being yourself: Kim Taehyung

It came to me, on a rainy afternoon as I made my way through the streets of Lisbon, that there is one thing I have been wanting to write about for a while – in urgency, leaving a tickle on the tips of my fingers and my mind racing with words just dying to be written. That one thing – or, rather, one person – is Kim Taehyung.

Odds are you have not heard of him. If that is indeed the case, then I am so glad you are reading this! You get to discover someone new, and, hopefully, feel inspired by him like I do.

Kim Taehyung photograohed by himself in mirror

At first glance, Kim Taehyung is a pretty face (like really fucking pretty, though). On second glance he is an ambiguous character with a smile that will make you happy, and his head in the clouds. After a while, if you care to pay attention, he becomes the most interesting book you will read – with the bonus of having a beautiful cover.

The basics are, he is a 21 year-old korean guy who belongs to one of the biggest and most famous acts of Kpop (short for korean pop), a group called BTS. He is a singer and a dancer on paper. But really, Taehyung is an all around Artist. He has what I value the most in people: a curiosity to explore the world, the open mindedness to see it from his unique perspective, and fearlessness to show his failed attempts and trials.

Jeon Jungkook photograohed by Kim Taehyung on a balcony

Jeon Jungkook portrait by Kim Taehyung
Jeon Jungkook captured by Kim Taehyung

What I have been finding the most inspiring about Kim Taehyung lately, though, is his passion for photography. The truth is, he has been blessed by both the face of a model and the eye of a photographer. He doesn’t just pose, nor does he just snap pictures. He is able to awaken a wide range of different emotions in you, whether that is in front or behind the camera.

Truth is, if there is one person who should really have an Instagram account, that would be Taehyung. Sadly, he does not. But you can keep up with his amazing self over on the BTS group twitter acount @bts_twt (which I highly recommend).

Kim Taehyung photograohed by himself in mirror

One day, I would like to have the confidence that he has, to be so unapologetically myself. Honestly, there is nothing more attractive and inspiring in a person. I guess, in the end, it’s not his voice, not his dance skills, not even his photography, that impact me the most – it’s his capacity to love himself.

He is a role model when it comes to embracing who you are.

And I wish him all the best.

Do you have someone who has been a source of inspiration to you lately? Let me know in the comments!

Me, at 23

Today marks a week since I said goodbye to being 23. Am I a little emotional over it? Maybe. Am I nostalgic about it? You bet your ass I am!

Just to give you a little bit of context, I stopped being excited about turning a year older ever since I blew my 17 candles. Nothing seemed that exciting to me about being one step deeper into adulthood. All I ever saw was responsibility I didn’t want being thrown at me, and time slipping through my fingers.

This time around, it was different. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about becoming older, but I was content. I feel like I’m ready to embrace this new year and make it mine. And that is only because my mindset changed a lot whilst I was 23. One could say I went through quite a transformation, even. And that is why this post is relevant – because I’m sharing with you who I was and who I became at 23.

After this, we can move on. SO LET’S GO!


ORIGIN STORY: A WHOLE LOT OF DENIAL

As every hero has her own origin story, so does yours truly. And just like every origin story out there, mine started with my life being A Mess (with a capital M for emphasis). This seems like your regular sarcastic answer – and it kind of is -, but it also isn’t. You see,  I didn’t really know I was a mess, back in my early 23’s, I just knew I wasn’t doing that great. 5 out of 10, maybe? Could do way better.

Money was a huge issue back then. I was counting every penny I had and depending on my parents a lot, which in itself gave me anxiety about being an Adult and not being able to take care of my own grown up self. I was also in denial about being lonely, and… basically every aspect of my life was dancing on a tightrope.  But I hadn’t fallen off of it yet, so I thought I was just fine.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine!”

(I’m really not)

The way things were, I could’ve been given nothing but denial gift cards wrapped in a cute red bun as presents when I turned 23. Maybe that’s what happened because honestly, I used them all. They lasted me about 6 months – up until the end of last year. That was when my denial about how shitty life was getting got so bad, the truth got fed up with it, slapped me across the face with a brick and said: “Alright, you lazy child, you either start facing me or you will fall off that tightrope of yours and break all of your bones.”

I still tried to fight back a little with a scared “Do I really have to?”. All that got me  was another slap, and I finally uttered out a reluctant okay.


THE TURNING POINT: BECOMING THE SHERLOCK HOLMES OF FEELINGS

Sigh. That was quite a heavy start. The good news is, my grim origin story ends there. Which doesn’t mean that after those 6 initial months I suddenly became a beautiful butterfly spreading happiness all around me (although I like to believe I am like that some days). It just means that by deciding to change, I no longer was spiraling down. I started to climb my way up, slowly, losing my footing more often than not, but still climbing up.


THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED

Denying the existence of problems and/or feelings doesn’t actually make them go away. On the contrary, it feeds them, which means they grow and become stronger. Eventually they become stronger than you.

So I started to exercise the opposite – I gave my feelings some time to just be. If I’m sad, I’ll allow myself to feel it for a while, and whilst I do that I try to think rationally about what it is that is causing me sadness.

“Why am I sad?”

“Because x, y, z happened.”

“What is it about x, y, z that saddens me?”

(…)

I do my best to understand what is causing my feelings to come to the surface, and then come up with ways to resolve whatever the inciting conflict is.

(This technique works wonders, albeit not the easiest thing to do. It is guaranteed to take ages off of your face! Better than a facelift! 10/10 would recommend.)

One could say, were he/she enough of a nerd, that I became the Sherlock Holmes of feelings. And not just of my own, funny enough! Because by understanding how my brain works, I became all the more inclined to understand what triggered certain behaviors in others as well.

And you know what? I’m kinda really good at it now!


THE HERO’S TEST: PEOPLE

It all started when I got close to this lovely lovely girl here

It might be a surprise to absolutely no one that I suck at people. I know, that whole sentence was an amazing display of eloquence, but what matters is that it gets my point across just right.

I always thought I was quite averagely talented at many things but if there is one thing that I have never displayed any talent for that has to be socializing. And it’s not for lack of interest, because I do want to know how to properly interact with people and build valuable relationships in my life – it’s just that people scare me like nothing else really does.

Before you start imagining horrible scenarios in which people are being murdered, let me explain. It’s not that I think everyone out there is trying physically hurt me, it’s just that I think everyone will hurt me emotionally, sooner or later.

And this lovely lovely lady came in and made everything even better   

What I am trying to say here is that, despite all of this, my 23 year old self finally started to get a grip on the reins of her social life, and is now consciously attempting to pass all her classes from her degree in People Skills.

If before I thought I was fine on my own, now I know that being surrounded by the right people is what allows us to have happy moments in our lives. I know that being alone and enjoying time with myself is important, but so is relating to others, and letting them into my life.


THE REWARD: A LITTLE HEDONISM NEVER HURT NO ONE

I might be stretching the meaning of hedonism a little bit here. Regardless, I have started to allow myself to enjoy the little (and the big) pleasures in life. It’s not all about being productive all the time anymore. It’s also about resting, having fun, and taking good care of myself.

The key aspect here is that I no longer settle for what life throws at me, but rather I seek out that which I want. In simpler words, I got tired of “living for the weekend”, working and watching tv and going out once in a blue moon. I got tired of saving all my money for a rainy day.

I don’t need to live every day on the edge. That’s not it at all. Sometimes all I need is to take 10 minutes off my day to enjoy the sunset over the river instead of rushing to catch the bus and go home. Reading amazing books that inspire me, eating my favorite food, having conversations with my favorite people. Whatever it is that brings me joy. 


THE SEQUEL: MY YOUNG (FOOLISH) DREAMS

Young-ish me dreams of nice things in her future. I want to start enjoying the good parts of being an adult (because, yes, those exist after all!).

  • living in my own apartment that’s filled with plants I can actually take care of, in a pink building, in Lisbon
  • having a kind and adorable puppy
  • holding hands with someone I really really like (and who happens to have the softest hands, just saying)

Most of all, my 23 going into 24 year old self wants her independence! It’s time! That and to be surrounded by people who want what’s best for me, whilst continuously growing into someone more confident and wise.


END CREDITS: NOW, AT 24

I know it’s lame to say this but I am indeed wiser. Still dumb and with flaws to spare, but wiser. Flowers are now my official favorite thing. I love my friends and my family. I’m proud of who I am but madly in love with the prospect of learning more and more about how to live my life just how I want it.

At 24, I have stopped passively watching life pass me by. Instead I’ve started to have an active role in what happens to me. And, now, nothing seems that impossible anymore.

Have a great year, me. You got this.

 

5 things I want to do in May

May is kind of a special month for me. Something about it just seems extra nice, like a breath of fresh air. It’s the height of Spring, flowers are blooming, the weather isn’t too hot nor too cold, and people seem to smile more easily.

That, or just the fact that it’s the month when I celebrate my birthday.

One of those. Definitely.

Anyways, as this is a special month to me, I want to write down some equally special things I’d like to do this month. Goals to achieve, you might say. Lately, sadness has been my companion and I’d like to take it as an inspiration to make some changes in the coming days.


1

Finally have a birthday celebration that makes me happy


I’m starting off with the most important goal, because, why wait? This is something that I have been struggling with for so many years, I don’t even remember when it started being a problem anymore. My birthdays.

I used to laugh it off and say that I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t care. I didn’t even like getting older every year, so why celebrate? But, actually, that’s just something my brain told me I wanted, just so I didn’t have to face what was really happening.

To no one’s surprise, what was happening was that I was scared. Scared that I’d throw a party and no one would come. Scared that I had so few friends, those who actually came would leave and laugh at me for having so few people who actually liked me. So yeah, birthday celebrations are kind of like that time of the year where the only way to keep my facade of perfect girl who is fine on her own and lacks nothing is put to the test. And the only way to avoid it is to not celebrate at all.

This year will be the first year I will go against the current. I’m not scared like I was before, although all of those things I listed above are still insecurities of mine. No, because what younger me never realized was that it’s not about how many people celebrate with you, it’s about who celebrates with you that matters. (I know it sounds corny but it really is true, I mean who would want to celebrate with people who were gonna badmouth you once they left? Surely not this version of me.)

I already have a few ideas about how I want to celebrate. The key part is, I want to share my time with not only my favorite people but also on my own. So, I have a few plans that go beyond just my actual birth day. If they go through, I will be really fucking happy!


2

Tell people what my favorite thing about them is


I always look back on the times when seemingly out of nowhere, someone gives me a compliment about something that is so uniquely me. When that happens, I’m left with no doubt whatsoever that they really mean what they say.

Said heavenly beings made up of sunshine (that’s what I’m calling everyone who’s ever done this to me from now on) haven’t felt pressured to do so by the situation, nor did they expect a compliment in return. They just blurted it out because it felt right.

These are the best compliments. The ones that stick with us and give us that extra shot of motivation when we need it.

Why not, then, do it for others? People I find deserving of a compliment. I will try my best to think of something unique to them, something that truly sets them apart from others and makes them special to me. Then watch that look on their faces as they, for a second, wonder if they forgot today was their birthday.

Hopefully, I’ll be responsible for a few extra smiles!


 3

Develop my first photography film


My most recent love is analog photography. I got a really cool camera at a street market for a bargain price (I smile tenderly at it every night before sleep), I loaded a 35mm film roll into it and I’ve been taking pictures hoping for the best. My aim is to start having photo albums at home like the old days, but have each one have a different theme and hold different future memories.

This first one is a reflection of my world now, my perspective. The things I love the most. The things I find most beautiful.

I can’t wait to have them all in my hands (and if they suck a little then that will have its own charm won’t it?)


4

Give myself a gift


Well, it’s my birth month anyway isn’t it? How about not only making others smile but also making myself smile? Take this opportunity to give myself a gift I would otherwise not get. Something different. Something special.

(I know just the thing. Shhhh.)


5

Post my video


I’ve been wanting, yearning, dreaming of making a video for a long time now. I planned it, I went out and recorded for it. I even edited it. But you know when you’re perfectly content with something you’ve created, only to watch someone else’s and feel like yours is complete shit? Yeah, that happened.

Truly, I don’t actually think my video is shit, only that it needs some improvements. And I know this is my perfectionist self speaking here, and I am getting dangerously close to those times when I keep altering and perfecting stuff into infinity (or, well, until I give up on them). So I’m limiting myself to one shot at making changes. Kind of like a company would do to a client. After that, I have to upload this bitch of a video. And be damn proud of it.

So, there you go. Five goals for the fifth month of this year – like that isn’t cliche at all. What fate awaits me in May, I wonder? Alternatively, what are your goals for this coming month? Let me know and let’s cheer each other on!

Visiting a Cold Greenhouse: my favorite snapshots

Let’s talk about flowers. Simply because they are deserving of admiration and love – those beautiful living beings with so much hope inside them. I went looking for a place where I could be surrounded by them. I found it, and fell in love.

It was a Cold Greenhouse in the heart of Lisbon. The tranquility I found inside was so comfortable that we spent a lot more time inside than we were supposed to (because of that and also because we just wanted to take pictures of everything). The place is huge, too, with many paths within paths. I was in wonder at basically every flower and plant I came across and laughed at their names because I’m easily amused like that.

What took me there was an urge to create something that would express my admiration of flowers. I felt like it was founded on a principle worth sharing, and I wanted to do it through a medium that I love and that I haven’t delved into in sooo long (in about 3 years, to be more specific): video.

So I captured some moving images, and my friend who came along with me captured still ones of me and our beautiful surroundings. We got so many, I ended up not even knowing where to start. How do I use all of this material? Because everything is so beautiful and my friend has so much talent that so many pictures came out amazing. I have to use all of these! They can’t just stay tucked away in my folders.

‘And how exactly are you going to use the videos you captured at the Greenhouse?’ you ask.

Well, they are for me to put together  into one video, where I will tell you the reason why I love flowers so much; why exactly they are so important to me.

It seems fitting to talk about something I admire so much through a medium that I regard with the same love and wonder. I won’t go into what I’m discussing in my upcoming video now. No use being redundant, right? But, in case you might think I’m spending the 2 minutes of that video talking about just how pretty flowers are (they really are though!), I’ll give you a hint: it’s less about that and more about the similarities I have found between them and us ( blooming vs withering / growing vs suffering).

Not to be biased or anything, but I really really love how it’s turning out!

Right now, though, I just want to share with you how elated I felt visiting this beautiful place, and the pictures we took on our visit. Perhaps you can find a Cold Greenhouse near you next time you want to have a tranquil day out? I think it’s a great place to visit whether you want to go on your own or with your friends, your family, or your crush (lil’ kisses among flowers never hurt anyone *wink wonk*).

Or perhaps you’ll come to Lisbon and visit this one? If so, maybe I’ll see you there!

Anyone else out there who loves flowers like me? Do they have a special meaning to you?

Pictures taken by me & my friend Margarida (check out her instagram and give her love?)