45 Ways to Make Your Life Better

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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Every so often it pays to stop and take stock of how your life is going. Some days (or years) aren’t going to be as good as others, and a lot of the time there won’t be anything you can do about it. Sickness happens, jobs are lost, the world is a mess– there will always be things out of your control that affect you in a negative way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your life a little better, no matter what else is going on. Some of these suggestions are small things you can do, some take more effort. Some might not work for you (although you won’t know until you try). Take a look and see what inspires you…

  1. Find a hobby: I read somewhere recently that people don’t have hobbies anymore, which is a shame because hobbies are fun (and sometimes you get a new sweater out of it). Taking time to do something you enjoy, whether it’s knitting, snowboarding, or even raising fancy pigeons, offsets many of life’s stresses, among other benefits.
45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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2. Try something new: There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut. Break out of it by trying something you’ve never done before. If you don’t like that, try something else. The point is to experience as much of life as you can.

3. Take a class: Is there something you’ve always wanted to study? A class will challenge you and keep you on track.

4. Read a book: A shocking number of adults don’t read– do yourself a favour and don’t be one of them. (By the way, I’ve written some books you might like, along with this article on the benefits of reading, according to science 🙂 )

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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5. Drink tea: It’s good for you (and relaxing). If you don’t like it, you might be making the same mistake I did when I first started drinking tea and steeping it too long (2 to 4 minutes should be plenty). Or it could be that you hate one kind but love another (I finally realized I really don’t like hibiscus). Some of the many types you can try include: black, green, white, red (aka rooibos), oolong, matcha, kombucha, herbal, barley tea (also known as bori-cha or mugi-cha), flavoured and dessert teas…

6. Get out of the house: Go down the street or halfway around the world, but go.

7. Give back: You can donate time or money to a charity, run errands for your mom, or offer to babysit for a friend– whatever you do, just do something nice for someone else.

8. Keep a journal: Whether you go with an old-fashioned diary, a bullet journal, a gratitude journal, an art journal, or even a blog, journalling will help you sort through your day and your life, and has even been found to have multiple health benefits.

45 Ways to Male Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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9, Pay attention: Also known as being in the moment. Look around, focus on details, notice the world.

10. Be immature: There’s always that person who will tell you that you have to grow up. Ignore them. Be silly, have fun. Finger paint, blow bubbles, laugh at stupid jokes. Wear something age inappropriate. Growing up is overrated.

11. Splurge once in a while: As long as there’s room in the budget, don’t be afraid to treat yourself.

12. Learn to make your favourite food: If you cook only one thing, make it a good one. (And if you have a family member who’s a great cook, take the time to get– and make– their recipes.)

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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13. Feed your backyard birds: Not only is it helping wildlife, but before long they’ll get to know you. Hearing birds chirp excitedly when you go outside is like starring in a real-life Disney movie. Just a couple of things to remember: seeds not bread; once you start, don’t stop feeding in winter (they rely on your help to survive); feed them away from any shrubs or places where cats and other predators can hide (and if you have a cat, keep them inside).

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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14. Grow something: It can be an entire garden or an avocado pit in a jar, but take care of something green.

15. Buy flowers: Speaking of something green, flowers or a plant will brighten up a room and your day.

16. Listen to music: Maybe dance a little too, while you’re at it. Repeat often.

17. Use the right toiletries: Even though soaps, shampoos, lotions, and perfumes are all made from the same basic ingredients, the quality can vary pretty significantly. You’ll look and feel better when you figure out your skin type and hair type and use the right products for them (preferably in a scent that makes you happy).

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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18. Be quiet: I don’t mean talk less (although sometimes that’s good too), but find a way to be quiet within yourself. Meditation is a good way to find your inner quiet, or you can do something as simple as sitting for five minutes with your eyes closed while focusing on your breathing. Meditation can help relax you, ease your pain, and even make you a kinder person.

19. Put down your devices: You’ve probably heard this one a lot. No one’s saying give up your phone or tablet, but do take some time every day to focus on the world around you instead of a screen.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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20. Love your people: By which I mean show your partner, kids, friends, pets, family, favourite teachers– anyone who means anything to you– that you care. Ask them how they’re doing, get them a coffee, give them a cuddle. Everyone’s life could use a little more of that.

21. Watch or read something funny: Let’s face it, real life is feeling a little dystopian right now. Give yourself a break.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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22. Laugh at yourself: Note to self, life is easier when you don’t take everything so seriously. Or as Maude (Harold and Maude) puts it: “Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.” (By the way, consider watching Harold and Maude as the bonus 46th thing you can do to make your life better. Also Amélie.)

23. Don’t read the comments: The internet has become a breeding ground for trolls and they congregate in comments sections. Unless you enjoy submersing yourself in anger, negativity, and outright abuse, don’t read the comments (also keep in mind that responding, disliking, or acknowledging these comments in any way marks them as “popular” and makes them more prominent on the page).

24: Stop dieting: Diets don’t work. Willpower is a myth. Food isn’t good or bad. Unless you’ve been prescribed a specific eating regimen by a doctor or dietitian, skip the diet. If you want to be healthier (note: health is not synonymous with weight loss), cut down on convenience foods, sugar, and salt, and exercise regularly. Stop feeling guilty about what you eat.

25. Go to the library: Not just a place to borrow books (although that alone is pretty awesome), libraries are community hubs where you can do everything from enjoying art exhibits, to attending author readings, to borrowing musical instruments, and so much more– for free.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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26. Play outside: Spend some time in the fresh air. It doesn’t matter what you do, just enjoy yourself in nature.

27. Clean the house: Yes, it’s boring, tiring, and sometimes gross. But it feels so much better to be in a clean space. Do you live with other humans? Make sure they do their share.

28. Make little changes: It can be overwhelming when you’re thinking about starting something new or changing something old. Instead of trying to tackle it all at once, try breaking it down into small, easy-to-manage steps. What do you want to do/change right now, and what’s the first tiny step toward getting there?

29. Walk away: Sometimes there are things, people, and situations in your life that make it worse. They add to your stress, make you feel bad about yourself, or drain your energy. Leave them behind, if you can, and don’t look back.

30. Talk to someone: Whether it’s a friend, a therapist, or anyone else you can open up to, find someone you can confide in.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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31. Listen to someone: Let someone open up to you.

32. Take a break from the news: Although it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, watching the news with its 24/7 focus on the negative can be more stressful than informative. It’s okay to ignore it sometimes (same for social media).

33. Vote: Yes, your one vote does make a difference. No, not all politicians are equally bad. People literally fought and died for the chance to have a voice– don’t waste yours (even if you’re not thrilled with the choices, picking one is always better than picking none).

34. Plan a trip: Researchers have found that planning a trip is more satisfying than actually taking one. Even though travel is a worthwhile experience, sometimes it’s better to stay home.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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35. Daydream: I’m not sure why anyone ever thought this was a bad thing. (By the way, science agrees.)

36. Don’t wait: If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do, don’t put it off.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas

37. Take care of your feet: They do so much for us and yet most people tend to ignore them. Show your feet some love by putting lotion on them after every shower, not wearing wet shoes or socks, and gently using a pumice on rough spots. It’s also best to avoid wearing high heels except on special occasions; while the appeal of heels is debatable, the damage they cause is not (oh, and make sure to throw something hard at the next person who tells you beauty is pain).

38. Don’t compare yourself to anyone: There’s no one way to be– you’re doing fine, no matter what anyone else is up to.

39. Take chances: Being cautious is important, but being too cautious can result in a life observed rather than lived. Try something, even if you don’t know it’s going to work.

40. Throw some shade (on yourself): Avoid the sun and tanning beds too. Unless you’re a fan of leathery skin and melanoma.

side view photography of a woman wearing fedora
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41. Embrace change: Change happens whether we like it or not– learn to make the most of it.

42. Celebrate: It’s easy to let special occasions and accomplishments go by without fanfare. Don’t let every day feel the same– celebrate whenever you can.

43. Find your tribe: This one isn’t so easy, but it might be the most important. Find the people who get you, who let you be yourself, and who care. If you laugh at the same things, never let go.

44. Be self sufficient: I don’t mean live off the grid and produce everything you need (although if that’s your thing, go for it), but the more you can do for yourself, the better. There’s something extremely satisfying about fixing your own leaking faucet instead of having to pay a plumber (just one example). Bonus: if you’re trying to get away from giving “stuff” for gifts, you can give your skills instead– make or fix something for someone who can’t.

45 Ways to Make Your Life Better, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas
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45. Rest: Everyone I know is always busy and usually exhausted. It’s time to prioritize resting. Get a good night’s sleep (if you can’t sleep, don’t try to do anything other than relax), nap, take time off, put your feet up. If nothing else, your brain will thank you (your stressed out body probably won’t complain, either).

Are you already doing these? Do you have others to add to the list? Please share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Why You Need to Read Books

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I always find it strange that people need to be convinced to read. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. For me, books have always been magic, gateways to other worlds, other lives. They’re adventures and dreams, knowledge and potential, all packed into conveniently portable packages. Forget apps–no matter what you want or need at any given moment in life, there’s a book for it. How could anyone not instantly see the value in that?

 

00 books are worlds

 

And yet… According to the Pew Research Center, 26% of American adults have admitted to not reading even part of a book in the last year (and I’m sure the numbers are similar in Canada). Clearly a lot of people don’t realize they’re missing out.

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If magic, knowledge, and adventure aren’t enough to get you interested, maybe I should also mention that:

Yale researchers found that people who read books for 30 minutes a day live longer than those who read magazines or who don’t read at all.

(This reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode where someone was reading a book in parts to their elderly relative, always leaving the story on a cliffhanger to keep the person hanging on well beyond a normal lifespan. #goals)

 

Successful people read (and they share some of their favourite books here).

 

People who read short stories are more open-minded and creative, according to a University of Toronto study.

Need a short story to get you started? How about “Tooth & Claw,” available free here, and at other online booksellers…

Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

And “Blood Magic,” available free here and at other online booksellers!

Blood Magic, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas

 

You can read more about the benefits of reading books here, or you can just pick up a book and find out for yourself.

00 reading tonight

 

What’s your favourite thing about reading? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Wordy: 10 Beautiful Words

gray magnifying glass and eyeglasses on top of open book
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It’s probably no surprise to anyone that writers love words, and I’m no exception. I have words I like, words that annoy me, and a few that stand out as favourites. Here are ten words that I think are some of the most beautiful in the English language…

10 beautiful words, meander, aspasia s. bissas

Meander has always been my favourite word: I love the meaning (totally appropriate to my own life, I might add) and how saying it sounds like its meaning. Meander is also a name for a winding border design formed by a continuous line:

meander, greek key, most beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas
Meander, also known as meandros, Greek Key, or Greek fret.

 

exsanguinate, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I first heard this word on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it became an instant favourite. What an elegant way for a vampire to tell their victim they want to suck their blood. Keep it classy!

But if bloodletting is too messy for you, there’s always…

defenestration, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I love that there’s a word that describes something so specific. And it’s fun to say–go ahead and try it. Lexico also offers an additional, informal, definition: “to remove or dismiss someone from a position of power or authority.” Clearly a useful word on numerous levels.

susurrate, susurration, susurrus, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I guess I really enjoy onomatopoeical words because susurrate is another one that sounds like its meaning. Every time I hear it I picture gentle breezes in gardens. You could even say the word is…

most beautiful words mellifluous, mellifluent aspasia s. bissas

It just rolls off the tongue.

Spike, Buffy, William the Bloody, William the Bloody Awful Poet, Effuldent, aspasia s. bissas

Sometimes it’s not the word itself, but where you learned it. Any Buffy fan will recognize “effulgent” as the word that earned William (AKA Spike) the mocking derision of several douchey Victorians for his “bloody awful” poem. Personally, I think the real crime was rhyming “’tis grown a bulge in’t” with effulgent, but the man was lovesick–he had bigger things to worry about than mediocre poetry. Effulgent actually has a lovely meaning and I think it needs to be put to use more often. Just watch the rhymes.

luminesce, luminescence, luminescent, beautiful words, aspasia s. bissas

I like all versions of this word: luminesce, luminescent, luminescence. It’s a pretty word with a fun meaning–who doesn’t like glowing things (bio-luminescent mushrooms, for example)?

somniloquay, somniloquism, sleep talking, aspasia s. bissas

You can say you talk in your sleep, or you can use a word that makes you sound like a character from Shakespeare. Am I a sleep talker? No, my good sir; I am a somniloquist. Prithee stay the night and mark my somniloquay!

ensorcell, enchant, enchantment, magic, aspasia s. bissas

Magic, sorcery, enchantment–I like them all, but I think “ensorcell” best captures the awe and beauty of the beguiling arts.

frangible, fragile, breakable, aspasia s. bissas

There’s a delicacy inherent in the word frangible that’s lacking in the more prosaic fragile. Anything can be fragile, but only the most vulnerable are frangible. Or maybe that’s just me.

What do you think? Did I miss your favourite word? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Book Tag: Ice Cream Tag

ice cream book tag, aspasia s. bissas
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My posts for the last while have been all business, so today I thought I’d have some fun with the Ice Cream book tag (snagged from the lovely A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings). Read on to find out about some of my favourite books (or possibly end up with serious ice cream cravings)…

Peanut Butter

A very long book series that you want to read but probably won’t, and why.

discworld books, ice cream book tag, aspasia s. bissas
Just some of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. Image found here.

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. When there are so many books in a series that there are multiple charts to help readers navigate it, the chances of finishing are pretty slim. Still, I’m going to try…eventually.

Chocolate

A book series that you would read again and again and again.

harry potter books, aspasia s. bissas

I’ll have to say the Harry Potter series, since I’ve already re-read it multiple times.

Pistachio

A book with a green cover.

Edgar Allan Poe meets Aspasia S. Bissas

The greenest cover on my shelf (even if it isn’t pistachio green).

Strawberry

A book with the cutest romance.

gunmetal magic, ilona andrews, aspasia s. bissas

This is a tough one, as I don’t tend to read “cute” romances. I did enjoy Andrea and Raphael’s story in Gunmetal Magic (they also show up occasionally in a few of the other Kate Daniels books). As hyena shifters, they show interest in potential mates by pranking them, which was amusing, if not exactly cute. I also really like both characters and Raphael is cute in his own way.

Lemon

A book with a sour ending.

her fearful symmetry, audrey niffenegger, aspasia s. bissas

There are so many books like this. I even wrote a post about a series that had an ending so bad, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But Her Fearful Symmetry stands out because this book would be one of my all-time favourites if it weren’t for the disappointing ending.

Mint

A children’s book that you like.

alice's adventures in wonderland, lewis carroll, arthur rackham, aspasia s. bissas

Going with a classic that’s beautifully written. Arthur Rackam’s illustrations are my favourite, as well.

Vanilla

Your favorite classic.

crime and punishment, dostoevsky, aspasia s. bissas

It’s been a while since I’ve read Crime and Punishment (time for a re-read) but it’s remained my favourite after all these years. There’s something deeply human about it that I think is lacking in the world right now.

Whipped Cream

A very long book that you read very fast.

six wives of henry viii, aspasia s. bissas

I love all of Alison Weir’s (nonfiction) books on the Tudors. If you’re interested in the period, Weir’s work is well researched and fascinating to read.

What do you think? What book “flavours” would you choose? Share in the comments (and let me know if you post this tag on your own blog).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

7 Ways to Support Indie Authors

close up photo of book pages
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There’s nothing quite like reading. You start out staring at words on a page or screen, and– if all goes well –the next thing you know, you’re visualizing a vivid story in your head and empathizing with characters who suddenly feel like you’ve known them your whole life. A good story will give you the feels, stay with you long past the end of the book, and will make you want to go back and read it again.

We writers live to give readers this kind of experience. We write in the hopes of creating something worth reading, worth remembering. And make no mistake– it’s hard work. Lonely, demanding, often draining work, with more than its share of frustrations, setbacks, and disappointments. What is so effortless to read has taken someone months, years, maybe even decades to write and publish. While a few authors become household names, most toil on in obscurity, for the sheer love of writing.

person typing on typewriter
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As a reader, what can you do to help brighten a writer’s day and make the struggle worthwhile (not to mention keep the stories coming)? Here are 7 suggestions (6 of which don’t cost a penny):

1. Buy their books! Authors whose books sell can keep writing. If you like their work, help them keep producing it. (Handy reminder: find out where you can get Love Lies Bleeding here.)

7 ways to support indie authors, aspasiasbissas.com

2. If you prefer borrowing to buying, then borrow from a library or an official lending service like Scribd. It might be easier to borrow your friend’s copy, but the author doesn’t get anything that way. Libraries and lending services compensate authors and help them keep writing.

3. Ask your local bookstore or library to carry their books. Shelf space and budgets are limited, so stores and libraries often won’t offer a book unless they know people want it. (Handy Hint: give them the ISBN, as well as the title. Love Lies Bleeding’s ISBN is: 978-1775012528.)

assorted books on shelf
Photo by Ivo Rainha on Pexels.com

4. Read their book! Seems obvious, but with everyone’s busy lives, it’s easy to set a book aside for later and then forget about it. Please don’t let this happen– an unread author is an unhappy author.

5. Review or rate their books on sites like Amazon or Goodreads (bookstore sites are also good). If you like what you’ve read– let the world know what you think. Just a line or two will do.

6. Share on social media (and tell your friends too). Help spread the word.

selective focus photography of woman using smartphone beside bookshelf
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7. Go to their events. Say hi, get a book signed, let them know they’re not sending their work out into a void. Writers might not be the most social people, but we love meeting our readers!

Do you have other ways to help support your favourite indie authors? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: Take a moment to download your FREE copies of my short stories Tooth & Claw and Blood Magic (or if you already have, click the links to leave a rating/review)!

                   free short story by aspasia s. bissas    Tooth & Claw, free short story by Aspasia S. Bissas