October 08, 2023

55 Life Lessons From Amoeno's Island by F. R. Amoeno Review

55 Life Lessons From Amoeno's Island
by F. R. Amoeno
Published on November 13th 2022
218 pages

"For long years, I have had a vague feeling there must be something more to life than I know. Then I sailed to Amoeno's Island."

Disappointed with self-help books? So was I! The common problems of self-help books, like sugarcoating, repetitiveness, vagueness, over-promising, over-reliance on anecdotes, and lack of scientific basis, are all consciously addressed throughout the book. Instead of long stories, it offers 55 actionable science-based pieces of advice, covering all areas of life, including how every single piece of advice included has been thoroughly researched, reviewed, and approved by a team of trained psychologists.The book is beautifully designed and illustrated; take a look inside yourself!

- Goodreads.com description

"Oh, the feeling when your friend from university writes a cool book about life lessons that are scientifically proven to make your life happier, and asks you for a review! My friend, I'm so proud of you for bringing this self-help book to life."  

The book starts with the main character waking up on an island. There he meets an old man called  Amoeno. This is an island in the middle of nowhere and the author found himself here because he was looking for a deeper meaning of life. Amoeno decides to help him and teach him about sailing and life.

There are dialogues between the two that than lead to the lessons. The lessons are explained concisely, are backed up by science (with references for further reading at the back!), and have a call to action. Meaning, you can start implementing them into your daily life immediately! There is a lot of them so make sure you give yourself time and not try to process them all at once. As the lessons says; Break big things into smaller chunks & set reasonable expectations!

There is an island for everyone.  

The lessons itself are valuable for our everyday life experiences. The topics encompass learning, habits, thoughts, communication, productivity, and relationships. It's quite straight to the point - which I liked!

218 pages might sound like a lot, but in fact the story only goes till about 62%. The rest are references for further reading. So I found it quite short and felt like it just ended all of a sudden. I wish the author would have wrote a bit more how he felt about leaving the island and how he managed going back to the real world with the lessons he learnt.

The writing was engaging and entertaining. Some things really made me laugh - so I can totally say the book is funny as well!

Overall,  55 Life Lessons from Amoeno's Island was a great read. It brings freshness into the world of self-help books! It's backed up with scientifically proven methods and advice. If you're struggling right now with some issues and you want some straight forward/no-bullshit/backed up by science advice and all in one place - I really recommend you to read this book! 

June 01, 2019

Decision, decision.. Does it ever get easier? Probably not.


After the shattering of my world, that was me losing my job in Brussels; a job that was supposed to be my new fresh beginning and ended up being my worst nightmare in which I was drowning everyday more, here I am after 6 months in homeland Slovenia. I'll admit, things did not go the way I planned them. A far cry from it.

I left my beloved Brussels. I packed my stuff and left after 2 and a half years. My home. It was hard. All my friends, my life as I knew it, all of a sudden gone. Gone. By the time I was fired I was so emotionally and physically exhausted, that I just couldn't pick myself back up. It was a horrible realisation. I did not have the energy to keep going, to look for a job I was not interested in, to go for interviews for jobs I didn't like. I could not phantom the idea of convincing interviewers that I was capable for a job when inside I felt incapable of anything. At that point in time it made sense to leave. I needed rest. I needed time for me, to get it back together. I could not sit on my savings and hope for better times when I was so broken inside. I would have felt even shittier on the inside if I did that. So, going home was the obvious solution.


Well, that didn't go as planned either. Does life ever go as planned? I've been entertaining this thought of going to Australia for few years now. Let me tell you first how it all started. The first person to mention it to me was a Greek intern girl that worked with me at ECF. She was so alive when she spoke about it, like, stars shone in her eyes. And then she looked at me and said "Nea, you must go to Australia. That place is meant for you." I brushed it aside a little. But the spark of the idea was there. During my stay in Brussels I met more people who's been to Australia and each of them told me in similar words what my Greek friend had told me. Well, I was hooked. How could I not be? Beaches, hot summers and warm winters, beautiful people, diversity, beautiful places, surrounded by English language (but not in Britain).. How could I resist the temptation to follow what others were so sure would be my right path? I printed the visa application while I was still in ECF. I kept looking at it for another year and a half. Dreaming. I kept postponing it due to new jobs, new plans, new everything. And then I got fired. And in those horrible days that followed that awful 16th of November, a new plan started emerging in my mind. And I thought "Well, I'll be 30 soon. And I can only get this visa before I'm 31. There is no new job on the horizont, no classes that I needed to follow, no master degree to finish.. And I am the master of my universe and now I can decide to do whatever I want with my life (kinda)."

As soon as I got back home I started planning and organising my visa for Australia. I had the time, I had the money, and I had the will to do it. After a month of gathering the necessary documents, and after the 2 month(ish) wait, I got my visa approved in April! I was ecstatic! It was happening!!

And then I got stuck on the date to leave. When to leave? Just when the summer was lurking around the corner, so I could go (again) into winter? After I've spent so many cold summers up in north I'll admit the idea was not very appealing. Still isn't. But it's not just the summer that is messing with my brain. And I keep postponing it to each "next month". I'll be honest here, after seeing all the crazy shit that is happening to women around the world, I've become afraid. Like, crazy shit anxiety afraid. What if something happens to me? I know, I know, bad things can happen anywhere, not necessarily on the other side of the world. It can happen here at home, too. Usually, when I was leaving for a new beginning abroad, my main concern was always money. Will I have enough? What if I run out? What if I don't find a job soon enough? This time around it's not money that is stressing me. It's more existential, it's primal feeling of survival. Can I guarantee myself that I'll be safe? I mean, I'm sure all the other women before me thought the same, but were they all lucky as I was till now? What if my luck runs out?

And then it's also all this 30 shit going on. Like, you magically turn 30 and then you need to figure your life out, find a stable job for life (bleeeh) and marry, and shit. I've never felt like this in Brussels. Is this the small town mentality? Is there an universal "fit for all"? I don't think so. The thing that pisses me off the most is that, I've been feeling all my adult life as I'm chasing things. Let me explain. Study hard so you will get into a good Uni. Finish Uni. Save money for your master degree. Survive your master degree course. Finish your master degree. Find a good internship. Do another internship. Get a job. Get a better job. Does it fucking ever end? And then you finally reach 30 when you think "Omg, I'm a fully functional adult and I can make decisions for myself without having to explain my decisions to no-one". I've done all I wanted and expected from me, and now I can finally do what I want to do, the things I've been postponing all the time because Uni/money/contracts.

Naaaah, apparently it doesn't seem to work that way. Because I need to life. Wait, but why? Why? Do I really owe it to the world and society, to everyone? What is the meaning of life? To keep doing things you don't want to do, so you can (hypothetically) "one day" do them? When will that "one day" come? Never? What's the point of being brave and deal with this anxiety and fears of the world if people judge you for being brave and wanting to live your life as you want it?

I thought, I really thought that hitting 30 will be great, and free. And here I am feeling trapped. Same as with previous jobs, I feel like they are trying to fit me into this mold, and no matter how much I stretch or bend, I just can't seem to fit. And I feel I never will.

The fact that I'm surrounded everyday by people who have no high ambitions in life, well, it doesn't make it easier. You don't need to be a psychologist to know that people you surround yourself with, after a while you become like them. Don't get me wrong, I'm lazy all on my own, and everyday I make the conscious decision on how I'm gonna do my day. But I am an extrovert after all. And I can't help but wonder if things would have been different if I was still in Brussels surrounded by my hard working and amazing friends. I miss you Brussels bubble people. This is hard.

And then I think of that quote of Julie Kagawa's book (that I re-framed a little) of how there are no good or bad choices. There are only the choices you can live with and those you can't. And when thinking of Australia.. I don't think I can live with not going. I don't want to look back in 10 years and be like, oh well shit happened and I didn't go cause I was scared. I cannot live with this choice. This isn't who I am, and this is not who I want to be.

End of summer I'm leaving. Australia, be ready for me. And I promise you, I'll be ready for you.

December 10, 2018

It's the end of an era

After 2 years and counting, I am leaving Brussels.

Like, leaving leaving.

I still have troubles grasping it. I'm waiting for the panic to settle in my lower belly, but so far so good. Nothing has been amiss. I'll admit I spent a lot the past few weeks avoiding stuff. I built these walls around me, and hey!, they worked great for a while. I am also happy that even considering this, I still managed to arrange everything (shipping, docs, house and all.).

It was all painful to let go.

At one point I thought that maybe I might have overreacted. Maybe this is a mistake. But on the other hand, how many more years should I invest in things I don't like doing? Forever? Apparently, this is a to-go motto. But I want to break free of this pattern that is slowly but surely eating me alive.

August 19, 2018

And after all this time I'm still wondering what life is about

It's been a while. A quite long while.

You know that saying "if you haven't got anything smart or nice to say, be quiet?" yeah, that one. So I didn't know really what to say for a long while. I was either resignated or angry. Usually, anger works wonders for my writing, but I've found out in the past 6 months that I'm so exhausted from feeling both. En plus other feelings on top.

I imagined this adulthood in a completely different way. Sometimes I don't even think I spent too much time analysing it, because honestly if I had, some things wouldn't shock me as much as they do. But they do. I wonder sometimes if we were so cocooned at University that we simply didn't see past the exams, past University? But we started University when the economic crisis started, so it's not like we didn't know what was happening. And the economic crisis did affect us, I can certainly say it affected me.

I never really gave a thought about moving abroad before I was 20. And the furthest my thoughts went was the ERASMUS semester. But then all this crisis and "you need to be competitive in this market that only wants the best", ofcourse you start looking for possible solutions to the problem.

But even doing a Masters abroad while also working a stressful job, I still didn't see it coming. I don't know what I thought that when I will get my degree all the worries of the world will just evaporate? Man, was I wrong. That was just the beginning.

Coming to Brussels affected me in a lot of way on how I see things. Especially this "job market" and what is the supply and what is the demand. Somehow the young people always come up short. I must say it's quite a mourning experience when you think of all the things you wanted to do in life and all those dreams and hopes you had.. and they are all dead. All these images you created in your mind of possibilities of how it's going to be. And that it's just not. And not because I didn't achieve something *incredible* by the age of *25*, but because I was genuinely shocked at what actual tasks at work are. Most of the time I was thinking.. this is it? This is the big bang cool adulthood thing that everyone has been bragging about how we young people don't understand yet? I've seen all the job ads there were in Brussels roughly in the past year and a half, and most of the job tasks sound like some cool stuff, and you imagine it and it looks wonderful. Until you discover that the job descriptions are just written super super nicely and wrapped in this very sparkly pink ribbon. Reality is very different I've found. Is it the "instant gratification" striking again? Like "omg look this sounds soo cool, I really want to do it, I'm so excited to start, then poooof; you discover is nothing incredible or cool. It just sounded very cool.

Yeah, I still don't understand. First I thought maybe it's because I am doing it for the first time, and then in different places will be different. In Brussels, it's not that different I must say, in this sense. How can people stand all this paperwork? All these projects that last for years and take so much work but then get just shelved in the neverending basement of project discoveries? It's so sad.

In the last 6 months in my job, I discovered something very important. I was right, you can do and learn absolutely anything you set your mind to do. Really, it's that simple. I've been saying it for years that all young people need is being given a chance. Just a chance. Anything there is in that job we can learn it and master it in weeks. And we can. But that wasn't the problem. The second thing I discovered is that, on the other hand, if you don't see why you are doing it.. then in time it becomes a problem. The why I discovered, is very important. More important even than the sum of our skills. That feeling when you see the bigger picture and you can see that little dot in the big circle and you think "evo, that was my contribution and I played a part in it" - that good feeling, you know? Or when you've been playing around with the code for hours and it doesn't work it doesn't work and it's eating at you and then after two hours you go back at it, you look at it and say "but wtf, this must work" and boom one hour later it works! These are the little things that make me feel complete. And smart.

In the past 6 months, I've also discovered that if the tasks you are doing don't challenge you, then after a while your self-esteem starts dropping, and you don't feel really smart. Actually, you feel anything but smart. And when you start taking on this narrative things start becoming very dark, very fast. Narrative. Also super important I came to discover. I've been working on it, but as everything with the human mind, it's a process.

I'm very happy with my decision to try a different path. Don't they say "you can't keep doing the same thing and expect the different results", right? Let's try and see. I'm a little scared of what's to come, but this feeling makes me feel alive. And the fact that I'm a bit nervous, but I can't wait to learn all the new cool things and skills! I'm really excited. Like a little spark.

I hope it stays alive.

It just crossed my mind that the month of August is the month that I started this blog 7 years ago. Waw, 7 years I have been occupying this little corner on the internet. It's my longest commitment so far.

Until next time,

October 21, 2017

Readathon October 2017: Hour 1

#Readathon is here! :) Today I am a bit more tired due to have worked night shifts for the past two nights, but screw that. It's gonna be awesome anyway! 

What is my goal? To read and have fun on Twitter and discussing awesome books!! :D

To read list:
Dirty Rich One Night Stand by Lisa Renee Jones 
Devil In Spring by Lisa Kleypas (288 pages)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I am reading from Brussels, Belgium! 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
For Devil in Spring! The reviews were stunning so I am expecting the same from the book!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
COFFEEEEE all the way! And pasta with tuna, I am so hungry is bizarre. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I moved to Brussels in October 2016 and never looked back. I worked at the European Commission and then I was working in communications at the European Cyclists' Federation. I really like in here. I love to read Adult and New adult books. I like Romance. Dystopia, contemporary, historical.. it has to have at least some romance in it and I am a happy girl!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I've learnt that reading contemporary romance books is the best for this kind of events - it goes faster. And I'll try to check more blogs and meet new awesome bloggers :) Click the follow button straight away, cause if not, it's lost forever. Learnt the hard way!

You can find me on Twitter here: @neabarabea
You can find me on Facebook here: MyLifeIsaFairytaleThatWillNeverEnd.

Happy readathon to all of you amazing people :) Good luck! Lets have a good adventure together! Remember to comment and take breaks! :) Drink lots of water (not only coffee!) and exercise from time to time ;)

October 19, 2017

#MeToo and Our Chance To Create a Better Tomorrow For All

There has been a lot of talk about how women are being treated in general in today's society in the past week. I am glad the communication has started. 
Finally, we are talking about it. This is the beginning of something great. Today is a great day. 
You've probably all read about the Hollywood director, that I won't bother mentioning the name of, and how he abused women for years. That is how ultimate power must feel huh? You are the biggest dude in the Hollywood and you think you are what, God? It gets normalised that you can just assault women but hey, I'm the biggest director and that makes it ok? Fuck that. No, it doesn't. Actions have consequences.

This past week has been full of it. The Hollywood story and the #MeToo campaign sparkled a lot of conversation and women are coming forward, some years later. Many of them years later. Many of us years later. And I think this is great. Because you know what? I think women around the world who have been abused have never felt less alone that in the past week. Abuse makes you hide in yourself, it makes you become smaller, and lonely in this. And when people around you don't bat an eye when it happens it speaks volumes too. But not this week. This week we are speaking up. I have seen so many #metoos that it makes you cringe. This is not ok. This is not anymore »oh, but it was a little thing. I'm sure no-one would care about this if I report it, they would laugh at me« thing, this is huge and we can now see that is happening to everyone around us.

Reese Witherspoon came forward and addressed it in her acceptance speech. And I don't care that she spoke up after 25 years, I don't care. The important thing is, she did. Because, you know, we psychologists know fear can be huge, but as soon as you share it with someone and just tell it to someone that fear it's a little smaller and then a little smaller and then you know it's not as big as it was before, and that's it. You have the power again to be in control. Not controlled by fear, but controlled by you. I hope she will be able to sleep better now. Good luck Reese, and thank you for sharing your story.

Lena Dunham came forward with a beautiful article about how powerful men are not coming forward with a statement. With any statement. That to me speaks volumes. She also writes how she has experienced Hollywood. Thank you Lena, for you sharing your story too.  

Everyday we see more women from all types of industries and backgrounds coming forward saying that this happened to them. Some of them are more famous therefore have a bigger reach, but women are coming forward from all sides. I mean, how many of them need to come forward for us to understand this is a big problem, and we need to start seriously addressing it? How many? Millions? 

Isn't that one of your friends enough, or your neighbour or your ex-classmate or your coworker? How many do you need to open your eyes and realise this is not ok, and we are not gonna stay by and let it happen anymore. We stand up for each other. When you see someone in need of help and can't help herself, why not step up? I did it before. And I'll do it again. You can too.

I have many critics when it comes to Slovenia and the way things are done there, but I have to high five my country for one big thing, as for during 22 years growing up in Slovenia I have never felt inferior to the boys. Ever. In Slovenia, it's general knowledge that people respect and value people who are hard-working so they either study and they study hard or they have a job and they work hard. I was always good in school, so I had no problems. I also had summer jobs and some sort of financial independence. I went to a lot of parties, but I always knew the balance. Many boys didn't really study in school so they had bad grades.. You see where I'm going? I never felt inferior. I also studied psychology, so my classmates were mainly girls. But still. That was my experience. It's when I went abroad in my 20es that I started noticing things. In the UK it was mostly social class inequality, but I must say that here in Brussels I see more gender inequality problem. I took me time to realise what I was actually seeing. Most of the time is so subtle that I brush it off. Believe me, it's a horrifying feeling when you discover just how much of brushing off you did in your life. Or in the office.

Mayim did a great video and opened a discussion about how we raise the little boys in society. I agree with many of her points, but her points aren't anything new – she pointed out all the factors that make us human beings who respect the other people in society. And this applies to all of us, not only little boys. Treat people as equals with respect.

I've been talking with many girls here in Brussels coming from many parts of the world. And when we share our stories and our views of the world we can see that we are always coming up with the same 3 main problems.

Being treated as property
The more I'm growing up the harder it seems to be getting. I mean, it's everywhere. It's like I can't walk down the street without someone staring or I dropping a comment or approaching me, I mean, what is this? Let me enlighten you. It's a hot October day which is a rarity, I wear shorts, go to the park to enjoy the sun and after that, I go to work, and omg from the look on my coworkers face you'd think I came to work in my underwear. Can we stop commenting women's bodies like we are observing the value of a car? And then the comments, and I was like »Geez, it's a pair of legs. I'm sure you've seen them before«. Your reaction isn't my responsibility. Mind you, with all the sexualised adverts and music videos and the list go on and on. Or meeting someone in a group setting and you smile twice at a guy, and the one next to you tell him straight away »she is single ;)«. What. The. Fuck. Is. This.?! Do I go around selling you on the street like a piece of meat?! No, I don't. Is it so much of an effort to ask the same in return? And second, I can take care of myself and most importantly, I make decisions by myself. If I need advice I will ask for it, if not, just be quiet. And these above were just random occurrences, not the ugly ones.

Being talked over aka mansplaining
I love how people who read few self-help »psychology« books or few scientific articles come to me and explain psychology to me. And think they have the same knowledge as me, who owns a master degree in psychology. That will never chase to amaze me. Two weeks ago I had a guy explain to me the Pokemon Go game when he never played in his life after I told him I like to play it. Colour me shocked. Pissed off too. What is this?

Being told how we feel
You'd be surprised by the number of encounters that I had when I was told by a guy that this is how I feel. And I tell them, no, this is how I feel. These are my feelings, right? I sure damn well know how I feel. And they just won't get it. And again I ask myself, do I go around telling people how they feel with complete disregard to their actual feelings? No, I don't. Can we please treat other people with common human decency? Actually, listen to others when they speak? Can we start doing that? We are not asking to be treated as goddesses, we are asking to be treated as human beings.

And what I would really like to stress to all the men out there, please, this is not me saying all men are shit. It's not. What I'm saying is, we all need to contribute in real life in real situations to get rid of this problem. 

As in, stand up for other women, support other women, and don't joke it of you know it's »whatever«, it's not. We, women always supported you (think of your sister, mother, friend, girlfriend, all of them in your life), and now we are asking you to support us in this. 

It's in the microsystems that changes are the most effective and then influence all society. Start from there. And see the change happening. 
Let's create a snowball effect that the world has never seen before. Take it as a challenge.

Let's create a better tomorrow. Together.
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