productivity

What I'm Reading: March/April Reads + Favorite Local Bookshops in New Orleans

My last book post hasn’t been since December which isn’t surprising to me at all. I say that because when I first had the idea to document any reads on here, I knew it would be a somewhat sporadic thing. I’m an all over the place type of reader and sometimes I forget to follow up once I’m done because my main focus is just starting the next one. I promise I’m working on this though. For the sake of all the book lovers interested in what I read and what I think, I’m working on circling back to do FULL reviews. A few people have sent me DMs on Instagram asking for my thoughts on certain books, but of all the times its been requested, I only did so once. And it was brief as hell. However, you’re in luck if you follow my book Instagram page because I for sure post all of my reads on there AND I leave little tidbits about what I thought. They don’t tend to be too detailed and verbose for the sake of me not giving away any spoilers, but I’ll definitely let you know whether or not it’s worth spending your had earned coins.

March has been a slow reading month for me. There were books I started but couldn’t finish. There were books that stopped being interesting to me about 50 pages in. There was a bunch of other real life things happening that pulled me away from actually being able to stay focused long enough to make any headway. CC: my dog dying, life being in shambles, etc. But alas, these few made it through! I read two books this month. Two. That’s slow for me but provided the circumstances, I’m glad I was able to do that much. Plus, there’s no race when it comes to reading for me. This is a fun hobby of mine so no stress, no pressure…ever. I do set goals for each month though. Doing so helps keep me on track actually look forward to reading because I won’t be stumped about choosing the next book. I set a goal to read at least three books in April. If I show up and show out and/or actually feel like it, I’ll go for four. It is what it is. We shall see!

What i read in march:

My sister the serial killer by oyinkan braithwaite

Of course, the title grabbed me. I heard a lot about this book via the #bookstagram community, so I felt like it was an obligatory purchase. Though the hype was exciting because I had been in a reading rut, I would give this book a 3/5. It had an interesting storyline and plot, but I was left a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I just had super high expectations since I heard so many great things. Here’s a little bookish pro tip: when it comes to books, it’s okay to ask folks what they think, but always do your own research and review searching too! We all have different perceptions about what’s good to us.

lets explore diabetes with owls by david sedaris

You guessed it. Yep, I’m reading yet another work by David Sedaris. He was featured on my previous what I’m reading update, and that book was hilarious. I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to discussing how funny and witty his writing is but it’s facts! If you need some light-hearted texts that’ll make you laugh, please check him out!

What i plan to read in april:

Black is the body: stories from my grandmother’s time, my mother’s time and mine by emily bernard

While perusing the many mounds and aisles of books at the Garden District Book Shop, I came across this title. The cover looked a little familiar, but I soon realized it wasn’t anything I’d seen before. Emily was stabbed at random in a coffee shop in an old New England town (what the fuck, right?!) She said how that crazy act of pure violence set something ablaze within her and it pulled out the storyteller that is she. The backstory that encouraged her to write was so out of the norm, so I had to pick this one up.

the care and feeding of ravenously hungry girls by anissa gray

I need some good fiction in my life again so I turned to this one. I read a couple good reviews that said if you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, this one would be a good choice. I did in fact enjoy that book, so yep. We’re doing it.

the source of self-regard: selected essays, speeches and meditations by toni morrison

I mean, Toni Morrison. I don’t need to say much else. She’s such a dynamic writer whose stories have been in my life for as long as I could remember. I’m genuinely excited about this one.

That’s what my literary month is looking like and I’m pretty excited about it. My reading has been a bit slow lately because I haven’t come across a lot of stories that wowed me, but I have faith in April. I really do. The weather is nicer, Mercury is finally out of retrograde or whatever the hell it was in and things are slowly getting better for me on my end. #GRATEFUL

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
— Lemony Snicket

Allow me to switch gears for a second and mention a few bookshops in New Orleans that are simply amazing to me. While I love a good trip to Barnes and Noble just as much as the next person, I would much rather buy local when possible.

If you ever find yourself out this way, definitely check these places out:

Blue cypress books

Nestled on cozy Oak Street, this is my favorite bookstore right now. Please visit, the staff is so friendly and the store is so cute.

garden district book shop

This shop is located in a historic space called The Rink which is at the corner of Prytania Street and Washington Avenue in the Garden District. For some reason, I can never just browse when i visit this one— I buy something EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Garden District Book Shop. I took this a few months ago but if you follow my book IG, you’ve def seen it there too.  hint hint wink wink  follow my book page lol

Garden District Book Shop. I took this a few months ago but if you follow my book IG, you’ve def seen it there too. hint hint wink wink follow my book page lol

octavia books

This such a jazzy bookstore located Uptown on Octavia Street. Though I don’t visit this one as often as I’d like, I love the ambiance, the book selection and the fact that they have sooo many book signings so often. Note to all my book lovers: visit this place. You’ll love it.

peace and blessings,

signature.jpg

Nine Self Love Affirmations to Encourage + Inspire You

Self love isn’t just about affirmations.

It’s not about all the beauty and glory you might see plastered across social media platforms. Self love and care is hard work. It’s dirty work and it’s uncomfortable but worth it. If you’re experiencing true growth and self improvement, it’s bound to be a little painful.

Affirmations are a good way to remind yourself just how powerful and amazing you are. Life gets difficult and sometimes reassurance is needed in order keep you on track. Remember, you’re a boss. You’re that B*TCH. I personally love writing down and reciting affirmations out loud—not only when I’m in the midst of a crisis and completely losing my shit BUT also when everything is all good. For me, doing so makes even the best day a little brighter. Think of it as extra sprinkles for the free on your favorite sundae on a sunny day. Pretty much gets no better.

As cliche as it sounds, speaking positively to yourself over your life in the midst of havoc WILL make a difference. Almost a week ago, my spirits were extremely low. I was in a terrible mood, pissed off, mad, mean…just a mess! After I got over myself and let the anger pass, I finally decided to be nice to myself. I said a couple of my favorite affirmations over and over and over. I was almost immediately immersed in gratitude because at that moment, I started thinking about all the good things in my life. Perspective really is everything… of course, when you’re pissed, you’re not trying to think about no damn perspective. Trust, I know. It was hard to pull myself out that rut but I did it. You can too!

pics taken by  Laiken Joy

pics taken by Laiken Joy

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
— Lucille Ball

These are just a couple of my favorite things to say to self when I need a little extra encouragement. Some might be familiar to you already, while others could easily be added to you list:

-I’m worthy of love and happiness.

-My life is a gift as I will treat it as such.

-I am capable. I have the ability to do anything I want.

-I am enough. (This is my favorite affirmation EVAAAAA)

-I attract love in the highest form possible. I radiate love and I’m grateful for the loving individuals in my life.

-I embrace optimism.

-I adore all parts of me. The good, bad and ugly. I work diligently but carefully to improve the things I want to change.

-I’m surrounded with love and I exude positivity and good vibes in all that I do.

-I am in full control of my destiny. I face each day with a clear head and humble spirit, ready for whatever comes my way.

So ladies and gents, as we approach a new month and year, focus heavily on making sure you’re right within. Do what you need to keep your spirits high so you can get the most out of this life. You deserve so ACT LIKE IT!!!!!! :)

peace and blessings,

signature.jpg


Solo Travel to Cartagena, Colombia: A Few Tips for Female Travelers

First off, let me just say that Cartagena is beautiful.

From the pastel colored buildings and rich history to the lovely weather, it was an amazing time. I spent about four days out there and it honestly wasn’t enough for me. Even though I didn’t get to make my way to the beach (ugh) I spent a good bit of time in the Walled City and the funky Getsemani neighborhood. I feel like those two made up for whatever I missed this first visit, but I’ll definitely be going back to see what else there is to offer. Sooner than later actually, like in a few months sooner. I loved it out there so much.

As I mentioned in my previous solo trip post, the thought of solo travel was never off-putting or scary to me. I was intrigued more than anything else. I want to see as much of the world as possible so when I can go, I’m going. Coordinating trips with other people isn’t always practical or easy because of work schedules, responsibilities, etc., so I decided to take full advantage of the times when I can just get up and go.

My flight left on an early Saturday morning—I wanna say it was like 6:30am. It was a comfy and quick 3 and a half hour flight to Panama with Copa Airlines. I switched planes then rode for another hour until I reached Cartagena.

My AirBNB was about a fifteen minute ride from the airport and lucky me, my taxi driver was bilingual and spoke pretty good English. He welcomed me several times and told me about some restaurants and historical sights to visit. He kept saying, "If you have time go here..” or, “If your schedule permits,” because he KNEW five days wasn’t gonna be enough time to really explore and see everything. Honestly, I didn’t have a whole bunch on my agenda (for vacations I never do) this trip was mainly for relaxation (which I did a LOT of), so mission accomplished.

By the time I reached my AirBNB, the weather had cleared up a bit. It was raining on and off which was annoying, but at that point it was sunny but still a little sticky out. The only thing on my mind was getting settled in and getting something to eat. I was staying in the heart of the Getsemani neighborhood and y’all, I’m so glad I did. Everything was so colorful, warm and within walking distance, including Bonche Gastrobar—the first place I made my way to for some food. It was right across the street from where I was staying, so it was perfect. Note to self for next trip: pack plenty snacks and then some more snacks in your carry on.

IMG_2408.jpg
IMG_2407.JPG

At Bonche, I ordered the Pulpo Crocante which was just crispy octopus served with creole-style mashed potatoes. This dish turned out to be pretty damn good with a lil bit of hot sauce. LOL. I got it in a to go box because I thought I’d wanna head back to my room and just eat there and catch up with my host, but that changed once I actually sat down. My tired ass didn’t even feel like walking across the street. I just chilled at the bar for a bit, sang along to some of my fave songs while enjoying that wonderfully fried octopus and margarita pictured below.

IMG_2410.JPG
IMG_2411.JPG
IMG_4756.jpg
IMG_4757.jpg

After I ate, I decided to walk around the neighborhood for a bit since the rain had completely stopped. I noticed some kids running around, some other solo travelers snapping it up and soaking up the sights which was cool, and there were a few locals just chillin’ on their porches, sipping beer. Sounds like a pretty chill Saturday afternoon if you ask me. This super sweet older lady offered me some mangoes from her cart and pointed me to a ducked off liquor store—like, girl yes! Thank you. I don’t know much Spanish; I don’t know any Spanish besides a few common phrases so it was soooo cool that my first few encounters were with people who spoke/understood a little English. That was literally the ONLY thing I was worried about with this trip. Lets just say, I did a lot of talking with my hands and google translating. It wasn’t bad at all, though.

The Getsemani neighborhood had such a home-y, retro and relaxed vibe, but it’s also hella lit. For various reasons, of course. There are vendors, cool bars/lounges, wonderful artwork, friendly locals…I would definitely recommend trying to stay in that area, especially if you’re traveling alone. A lot of restaurants are close by and there’s always something to do. If you’re “bored” there it’s because you choose to be!

IMG_4763.jpg
IMG_4764.jpg

I booked some fun outdoor activities for Sunday morning and that afternoon but due to inclement weather, they were cancelled. I wasn’t really too too upset about it, honestly because sleeping in and staying in bed most of the day seemed more appealing at the time anyway. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the thought of constantly having to be on the move while on a trip. Sure, you’re in a new place, but the point of a vacation is to relax. I knew I’d have plenty time to explore, so not doing any of that for a few hours really didn’t bother me. It was perfect, “stay in the room with the lights down low and just read for hours” type weather. Ain’t no complaints.

Meet Molly, my hosts’ lovely doggo.

Meet Molly, my hosts’ lovely doggo.

My cozy room. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was one of the books I brought with me. I loved how things progressed in this story; it’s def one of my fave reads of the year so far.

My cozy room. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was one of the books I brought with me. I loved how things progressed in this story; it’s def one of my fave reads of the year so far.

During my stay in Cartagena, I was able to link up with Isabel for a night full of drinks, laughter, salsa dancing. #LIT. I interviewed her on my blog last year so you haven’t already, check out that post here! Coincidentally, she was vacationing there the same time as me. I found out a few days before my trip, so we immediately made plans to link up when we could. Sunday night, we decided to go out for drinks at Alquimico, a really nice bar in the Walled City. The historic city reminded me a lot of the French Quarter here in New Orleans. I’m pretty sure that’s why I felt so at home. Has to be. We had a drink in the downstairs bar room area which was a great vibe, but after about a half hour, we decided to retreat to the rooftop to hear some better music and and get better views.

This, my friends is a strong ass Mai Tai. Cheers.

This, my friends is a strong ass Mai Tai. Cheers.

Honestly, this veggie sandwich and eggplant fries was everythinggggg. And then some.

Honestly, this veggie sandwich and eggplant fries was everythinggggg. And then some.

POZSE7671.JPG
IMG_2461.JPG

We were out alllllll night on Sunday. We went from spot to spot and bar to bar…y’all I hadn’t been out like that in a while, so I surprised myself with how well I was keeping up with the turn up lol. You can usually just catch me at a happy hour every now and then and dassit. We passed by spots like Cafe Havana in Getsemani (told y’all it’s popping over there), which had a live band and salsa all night. We also went to a club up the street from Alquimico that I can’t remember the name of but I remember those strong ass drinks. They were very generous with the liquor and for that I was #grateful.

The next day, I decided to get up a little early so I could head to brunch. The weather was absolutely beautiful (finally) so I was looking forward to being out and about in the streets. I ended up La Brioche, a cute and cozy breakfast spot in the Walled City. It was about a fifteen minute walk from my AirBNB, but the weather was great so I didn’t care. Sunny skies and a light breeze= perfection. I decided to be basic because starving, so I ordered pancakes and a mimosa. I knew it would be good AF. As a matter of fact, it was muy delicioso. Isabel recommended that place to me the night before, so I made it a point to put it on my list. As you’ll see in this post, I didn’t have many traditional Colombian dishes except for the meals my host cooked. That was completely fine with me. As long as ya girl eats, period..I’m good.

Views during my commute to brunch. Breezy weather and unbothered locals.

Views during my commute to brunch. Breezy weather and unbothered locals.

This mimosa was really just champagne with little splash of orange juice. No big deal, I can dig it.

This mimosa was really just champagne with little splash of orange juice. No big deal, I can dig it.

Artwork in Getsemani.

Artwork in Getsemani.

I booked a photo walk around the Walled City with Alex, a proud Cartagenian and local college student. We met up at La Caponera Bar around 3:30pm then walked over to the Walled City. Once there, we headed to Mirador Gastrobar for drinks. Mirador’s full menu wasn’t available yet, so we had a traditional Colombian cocktail to kick off the evening.

IMG_2492.JPG
IMG_2496.jpg
why did I have to be so cheesed up though?

why did I have to be so cheesed up though?

IMG_2490.JPG
IMG_4780.jpg
IMG_4793.jpg
IMG_4815.jpg
IMG_4808.jpg
IMG_4817.jpg

After a good two hours of walking, getting history lessons and having deliciously unhealthy street food, I was exhausted. There was so much going on in the city this day. Lots of travelers were out and about and there were a few wedding receptions going on. And of course, there were vendors galore. Handmade trinkets, artwork, keychains, etc. You name it, they had it. Alex made it a point to try to avoid the areas where there’d be too many tourists since she wanted to me to get a genuine feel for her city. Realistically there was only so far we could get away, as the Walled City has turned into a hotspot for tourists over the years.

IMG_2502.jpg
dsc_1448.jpg

This is the type of vacationer I am: I want to see things, oh and ah at breathtaking views, EAT, but I want to just chill more than anything. The freedom to do just that is probably one of my favorite things about traveling alone. My plans can change as much as I want. I don’t have to compromise and though I have no issues doing so, it feels great to not even have to consider it. My last few days were spent doing a bunch of random stuff. Big chilling. I went out with my host to hear live music one of those nights, but I was having such a good time, I didn’t take my phone or camera out for pictures. I was living in the moment, sipping whiskey cocktails and eating empanadas well into the morning.

I saw this cute restaurant near where I was staying, so I said I’d eat over there at least once. Basilicia Pizzeria gets 10 out of 10 stars from me. Straight up. I found that this spot got pretty packed at night, but when I went for lunch, I was the only one there. You know what that meant? There was zero wait. Quick service and amazing food= a happy Lyndsey.

Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker was my other vacation read. Loved this one.

Training School for Negro Girls by Camille Acker was my other vacation read. Loved this one.

This gorgonzola pizza though >>>>>>

This gorgonzola pizza though >>>>>>

I wandered into a museum after lunch….

IMG_4819.jpg
More frolicking in the city…

More frolicking in the city…

So, are you considering Cartagena? Wanna make your way to South America? Cool. I think you should. I loved my time out there so I have no doubt that you will too. If you’re curious about traveling alone, don’t let fear stop you! This was my second solo trip and it won’t be my last. I think the main thing to keep in mind when traveling alone is the importance of being aware of your surroundings. Use your common sense. Don’t do no dumb shit you know you wouldn’t do at home. Also, carry yourself with confidence. When I walked down the street, I always had an idea of where I was going because GPS, so I walked like I knew where the hell I was going and what the hell was going on. Don’t be out fumbling with a map, pointing around and looking scared. Gather your path before you leave your hotel/hostel then just go explore. Cartagena is a beautiful destination so add it to you must visit wishlist ASAP!

peace and blessings,

signature.jpg