Top Things To Do In Bali! | Excursion #2

At the end of last year I went to Bali for the first time, from December 23 to 30. It was also my first time in Indonesia for the record! I wanted to share with you some of the things I did which I can now recommend, in no particular order!


1. Visit Ubud, the Cultural Nerve Center of Bali

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I think that coming to Bali has to be accompanied with visiting the cultural nerve center of Bali, located in the town of Ubud! This small town was indeed packed with tourists but also with temples at every street corner, and some of the best restaurants I tried for the whole week! One simply cannot come to Bali without coming to Ubud, and seeing some of its sights 🙂 – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / exploring is free.

2. Visit The Sacred Monkey Forest

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I went to this jungle forest packed with wild monkeys everywhere and it was the best thing! Yes there were baby monkeys 🙂 – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / entry: 2$.

This definitely was a highlight of my stay in Ubud, because I’d rarely had the chance before to get so close to monkeys, especially wild monkeys. Even if you’re afraid of monkeys don’t worry: they rarely climb people, and if they do it would be because you brought food with you (which they can smell from the other side of the forest).

I took some beautiful pictures there, green was everywhere!

 

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3. See a Traditional Balinese Dance Show

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This definitely was a highlight of my stay again: I went to see a traditional Balinese dance show, which I believe is held every night, at 7 p.m., in the center of Ubud, at the Palace.

Despite the many many (many!!!) flying insects everywhere due to the humidity and the lights, the show is absolutely beautiful and the music enchanting.

If you’d like to be bewitched into Balinese culture, this show is for you! – At Ubud, 2hr-drive from Denpasar / entry: 5$.

4. Go And See Various Temples

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Crazy fact: Bali counts around 20,000 temples.

During my stay I went to see many temples – they are literally everywhere on the island! Each of them has something unique, so I’d say they’re always worth exploring.

I had the chance of going to Bali during the week of celebrations for the new year which is called Galungan 🙂 The whole island is on vacation, and decorations fill the streets and the temples: the main decorations, called Penjor, were very high bamboo sticks hanging above the streets. – Find more info here.

Visiting the temples is always free, but as the most famous ones are dispatched everywhere on the island, therefore accessing them is not always easy. You can either go by taxi (always ask the reception of your hotel) or scooter. – more info below.

You can find a list of the most famous temples here!

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5. Witness A Religious Ceremony

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In Balinese tradition, Galungan is the time of year when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth. For that occasion, the Balinese people gather in temples almost every day to bring offerings and pray altogether. – Find more info here.

The atmosphere created by the celebrations was truly awesome. It had a very authentic vibe, which was missing from the island otherwise, since it is overflowing from tourists. I strongly recommend going to Bali around this time of the year!

You can find a list of the most famous temples here!

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6. Go to a Spa And Get A Balinese Massage

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Going to a Spa is just part of the Balinese experience: you have to get at least one massage. Why? 2 reasons: it is so cheap you won’t believe it’s real, and the Balinese traditional massages are the best! The masseurs (generally female) carry just the right amount of pressure, although you can also ask for less or more pressure.

The beauty treatments are just amazing too, whether it be getting a manicure/pedicure, hair removal or a skin treatment, I assure you this will be a highlight during your stay! I did the best avocado hair treatment ever, which left my hair feeling sooooooo sleek I could not believe it. – 2 to 3 hours at a Spa / around 30$.

7. Make Friends!

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People on this island are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered. They smile all the time, they are happy to live, and they laugh a lot!

As soon as you get used to the indonesian accent, you’re up to go. Everyone speaks English 🙂

This picture was taken right after I climbed down Mount Batur, the most famous volcano of the island. I befriended my guide, the girl at my right, who I taught a bit of french since she was asking 🙂

On her left is the very friendly and funny driver I had to take me to Mount Batur, who also wanted to be on the picture, looking fab’ with his sunglasses!

8. Climb A Volcano

 

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Warning: if you’re afraid of heights like me, do not attempt this.

It was my first time climbing a volcano, and my first time going on a trek altogether.

Mount Batur is the second active volcano of Bali, the first one being Mount Agung which apparently you can’t climb anymore.

Climbing up Mount Batur is all fine since you do it during the night: however climbing down is a whole other matter! You don’t realise how far up you’ve gone until the sun comes out in the morning and you actually see the extremely steep slopes on both sides of the path (lacking barriers…)!

Hopefully I had a guide (which you’re obligated to have anyway if you want to climb) and she helped me go down when my legs wouldn’t support me anymore due to the fear.

However, I’m proud to have done it and I still encourage you to do it! – 2am to 7am / 10$ / ask your hotel reception for a ride there during the night.

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9. Take Some Of The Most Beautiful Pictures Ever

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Bali is of course one of the most instagrammable place of all time 🙂 Pictures speak for themselves, beauty stroke me everywhere I looked and of course I couldn’t resist!

Be aware that everyone wants his/her picture, and sometimes the sights are crowded of people who are here just to get their Instagram shot! Try not to get annoyed by it, it’s all part of the experience. 🙂

10. Relax And Enjoy Your Time There

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Bali is known for its relaxing atmosphere, its yoga retreats and its magical sights.

If there’s one place where you can forget everything and actually relax and enjoy the present, it’s there. Take time to breathe, you will not regret it.


Info:

Hotels are cheap in Bali. You can get a 3-star hotel for 20$ a night. Spend some time on the internet beforehand to check the best deals.

Getting around in Bali is pretty easy. You can either book taxis at your hotel reception (to avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers in the streets) or renting a scooter for a day or a few days in a row. Any way, it will cost you around 10$ a day to go everywhere you like.

Balinese food is amazing although it is very much the same everywhere. You can get very big meals for around 5$ per day.

Activities can be pricy: it really depends on what you want to do and how big in a group you are. You will usually spend around 20$ a day for any kind of activities, per person.


This concludes my blog post on my stay in Bali, and if you want to know more, you can go and watch the vlogs I did while I was there! Here is the first part, and the second part 🙂 Do subscribe to my YouTube channel if you liked them!

Balinese kisses,

Lilly

aka The French Hat

6 Things I Hope 2019 Will Bring Me

I won’t be writing a list of resolutions. Improving myself and my life is something I work towards every day, without feeling the need to write it down.

However, I found that laying down your hopes and wishes on paper is a great help you to define your dreams and goals. As soon as you write them down, they feel more real. And in general, doing so at the beginning of a new year allows you to see things clearly.

Here’s me doing just that. 


In 2019, I wish…

To Travel More…

Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China… how many of them will I be able to visit this year?

I believe my being in Singapore will help me on that wish, since going anywhere in South East Asia from here really isn’t expensive. In fact, these days it’s making me wonder about what really prevents people from traveling, apart from money.

Here in Singapore I can witness locals not really wanting to travel although it’s a cheap matter for them, and what’s more, travel alone. I believe nobody would ever do that here. Going somewhere in Asia by themselves, without the perspective of having a friend meeting them at the airport upon arrival is something quite close to a nightmare. Of course I can understand to some extent, and here I’m talking about Singaporeans but this applies to any nationality. It’s just even more obvious since Singapore is known to be Asia’s nerve center.

And you, what are you afraid of that prevents you from traveling, apart from money?

To Meet New People…

So far I’ve done a pretty good job overcoming my shyness and have met and bonded with quite a lot of people. It’s been a long time since I’ve made new friends, but moving to a new place alone has forced me to be more open to new relationships.

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This year, one of my biggest challenges will be to improve my Japanese as much as I can before going to Tokyo again on my own and hopefully make some friends during my stay, or even one friend would be huge! Cross fingers for me!

To Improve My Content… and Find My Pace

20190119_212644_00017379178381326100204.pngI’m still in the process of choosing what will be best for both this blog and my daily life. At the moment, I’m going with the flow and creating content when I feel like it, favoring quality over posting on time.

As you can see in my right column, I am supposed to post every Wednesday and Sunday, which roughly means 9 or 10 blogposts per month depending on the month. This goal is something I’ve imposed on myself but so far, I haven’t been able to keep up with it, since I have many other things on my hands apart from my 9-to-6 work: my YouTube channel, my Japanese lessons, my Bujogram, the reading challenge I’m on every year, and staying fit by going to Yoga classes and doing fitness on my own.

As much as it pains me to admit, 2 blogposts per week was too great a challenge for me. I am going to have to slow down on this blog. I’ve decided I’m going to post only on Sundays and see where it leads me. I’ve chosen Sunday since I believe this is a day when most of you have time to chill and actually read some blogposts. 🙂 Let me know what you think about this change!

To Tackle On My Anxiety…

Mental illness has been the talk in town for quite some time now. Many people have had the courage to speak up, and I’m happy to see it did spread some light on it.

I myself have had anxiety for as long as I can remember, and in fact for very concrete reasons I know too well about. It’s something I know I’ll never be able to master completely, but I can definitely improve how I manage to live with it in my daily life.

Since my first job has started, my anxiety has never been so low during the day. I’m still having trouble to sleep though, but I’m working on it. And I haven’t had a single panic attack for the whole of 2018. I hope I’ll be able to say the same at the end of 2019, and also that it doesn’t affect me as much. Wish me luck guys ❤

To Get A New Tattoo…

I know it comes rather aggressively after saying I wished to tackle on my anxiety, but in fact these wishes are very much linked to one another. Finally getting tattoos for my 25th birthday in 2018 was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Since then, I’ve been more in sync with my body than ever before. I’ve slowly started to actually like my reflection in the mirror, just when I thought it would never happen to me.

This subject needs a whole blogpost to itself, which I’m keeping in mind for the future. For now I’ll only say that the 4 tattoos I’ve got right now are still missing a fifth one. If I could get it done this year after having designed it, it would be perfect. 🙂

To Have A Healthier Lifestyle…

So far, I’ve quit smoking and coffee altogether, and am careful not to drink too much alcohol, in hope that someday I’ll quit alcohol too. This year I’ll focus more on this, because I’ve overlooked it for too long, due to my anxiety level being too high during my studies. Now that I’ve ‘started on my life’, I really wish to be as healthy and responsible as possible.


Of course this list isn’t exhaustive: I wish for many more things to happen and will talk about some of them in later posts! So don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to be able to know when new blogposts come out 🙂

Stay tuned,

Lilly

aka The French Hat

One Month Living In Singapore | Sat’Update #4

Day: Saturday the 29th, December 2018 (night).

Location: Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

Last event(s): have spent a week in Bali, and made a wonderful new friend ❤

Next event(s): new year’s eve in Singapore & working my ass off to create contents for 2019.

Current state of mind: focused to get everything done in time.

Current state of body: tanned & ready for fitness.


So, it’s already been a month.

I didn’t count from the first day I arrived because my first week in Singapore has all been about finding a place to live, which didn’t make room for any exploring or relaxing or enjoying my time in Singapore.

I can recall I was wondering whether or not I would make friends here, whether or not I would actually be able to travel around… and both of those wishes have quickly been fulfilled: now I’ve made friends with two wonderful girls, and traveled to Indonesia for the first time in my life.

I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring me…


Until next time (and don’t forget to travel),

Lilly,

aka The French Hat

Merry Christmas 2018 on The French Hat!

Sending you Merry Christmas wishes from Bali, where I’m spending my 2018 Christmas leave!

Merry Christmas to my family in France!

Merry Christmas to my friends in France and abroad!

Merry Christmas to my colleagues in Paris and Singapore!

Merry Christmas to my lovely readers & subscribers!

Life’s Sweet In Singapore | Sat’Update #3

Day: Saturday the 8th, December 2018 (late afternoon).

Location: McDonald’s, at United Square Mall (Novena), Singapore.

Last event(s): very busy week at work, have made my first Singaporean friend & purchased my new BuJo for 2019.

Next event(s): building IKEA furniture that arrived at my apartment on Wednesday & getting internet connection at home.

Current state of mind: very excited to prepare lots of contents for the coming new year (more Blogposts, more Instagram pics, new Bullet Journal).

Current state of body: feeling good & full.


This week was extremely busy but at the same time life’s been so sweet here.

Here in Singapore, you never worry about the time, or the weather (even when it’s raining because you just get under the covered passages), or walking home at 2 a.m., or getting food whatever the time of day or night may be, or making friends…

Singaporeans are so friendly and genuine I still can’t believe they actually exist!

My new friend told me how she and her friends have always been afraid to go to France and all I can say is how much I can relate to it now that I can see how untroubled and oblivious life here may be…

I can’t wait to tell you all about it! I have been making lists of topics I absolutely want to cover on my blog and I can’t wait to sit down and write the related blog posts for you all!


Until next time (and don’t forget to travel),

Lilly,

aka The French Hat

‘Traveling’ In Translation: In-Between Worlds | World Tour #9

Yes this title is an attempt to make a pun with the title of Sofia Coppola’s masterful movie ‘Lost in Translation‘, which you would all have watched, I am sure.


So we left Las Vegas with a somewhat sore feeling. After being forced to get a cab from the hotel to go to McCarran International Airport, when no other option was left to us, and waiting for several hours at the airport (where we felt more at ease than anywhere else in Vegas at that point), we eventually took off and escaped from the Nevada desert, happy as ever to leave the sounds of the slot machines behind us.

It was Monday the 23rd of July, and on that day I set foot in Los Angeles for the first time in my life.

Those Weird Hours In Between

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We had almost 24 hours until our next plane, which would carry us in more than 10 hours, to Japan.

Things went smoothly, so we didn’t have to think about it. From the airport, we took the free shuttle to our hotel (what a change after Las Vegas!), checked in the huuuuge beautiful room we booked and we proceeded to chill out.

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We didn’t even go out of the hotel to explore Los Angeles a bit, but honestly we weren’t in the mood to do so. Things are a little blurry but from what I can remember, we went to the hotel restaurant and ate very good food, and then I watched a movie my father had told me about on the flight that day, which I had wanted to see ever since it was released in 2004: ‘Flight Plan‘ with Jodie Foster, a thriller set on a plane which was interestingly written, but scared me about planes when I wasn’t even scared…

Preparing Yourself For A Whole Other World And An Inevitable Culture Shock

All I could think about was counting the hours separating me from leaving the US and FINALLY landing to Japan, and seeing it for myself, after so many years of wondering how it would be like.

For the record, I have been learning Japanese for almost 2 years now, and obviously learning about the culture as well, from many different sources (YouTube, books, TV shows, Netflix, documentaries, social media and so on). So I already knew a lot about Japan. In fact, in some ways even more than I knew about the US… That’s something I’ve already talked about, but what I knew from the US before our trip all came from 70s to 90s TV shows and movies. Nothing current.

I had the same level of excitement for Japan that I got for New York City, which is saying something because I had wanted to go to New York since before I could even have memories… I can’t even describe how happy I was.

That night I couldn’t sleep very well either, which was expected…

I knew well enough how much of a disorientation and culture shock we would feel when arriving in Japan, and what’s more, in Tokyo. I tried to explain it as much as I could to my father. I remember I told him about:

  • the fact that the weather there was extremely hot and humid (because it was summer), which neither of us had ever felt before;
  • the fact that nothing was his size there (my father’s really tall), especially in Tokyo and especially after staying in the US for 2 weeks, where everything is too big;
  • the fact that people smoke in restaurants, but aren’t allowed to smoke in streets except in very specific areas;
  • the fact that there is A LOT MORE PEOPLE everywhere, especially in Tokyo;
  • and of course the simple fact that we were going to leave one continent for another, and not any one of the continents: we were going to leave the America for Asia! Which would have been okay if either of us had ever been to Asia before, but we hadn’t. A huge culture shock was inevitable.

He listened alright. And as I talked about it, I tried my best to really think about it. But in the end, neither of us was truly prepared for what was coming.

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Ever wondered where Sofia Coppola got her title from for her famous movie? Well I’ll just leave that quote here for you to think about…

“Poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation.”

Robert Frost

Until next time,

With love,

Lilly

Bear With Me: I’m Only Switching Continents! | Sat’Update #1

Day: November 17 (morning).

Location: at a friend’s house, in Suresnes (Parisian suburbs).

Last event(s): leaving my apartment in France.

Next event(s): expatriation in Asia coming in approximately 30 hours.

Current state of mind: not ready for what’s coming tomorrow.

Current state of body: completed knackered.


I just wanted to update you guys on my life because everything went so fast I didn’t have a chance to post anything on my cherished blog for about 2 weeks!

Those last two weeks easily were the busiest two weeks of my entire life: I’ve moved out of my apartment in Versailles (France), said goodbye to Versailles Palace, and that took my friends and family (and I) three days in total (saturday morning until monday evening). For three days, I had to stay alert without discontinuing, which was extremely exhausting.

But I’ve done it, and now I’ve moved out and most of my stuff is in transit, between here and there… Lost in Translation? haha just kiddin’, I’m way too tired to make witty remarks xD

I’ve even vlogged everything so that you’ll be able to see! We’ll talk about my YouTube channel and its future in another blogpost, but I’m just saying: you’ll have a Moving Vlog coming your way soon 🙂

Soooo yes, my main photo for this blogpost is quite blurry on purpose: this is only meant as a teaser for my upcoming vlog!! Tell me whether you’re excited about it, I sure am myself!!!

Anyway, I am leaving France tomorrow evening, and I’ll be arriving in Asia on Monday afternoon.

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?!


See you on my next round of adventures!

Lilly,

aka The French Hat

Time To Say Goodbye Again | Thoughts On Expatriation #2

I’ve had a hard time writing on this topic, because I do think I’m not like many people and it’s making me nervous. But I’ve also said I’ll be as honest as possible on this blog. October the 15th has passed, therefore it’s official: I’ll be leaving for my second expatriation in less than a month.


And yes, you’ve guessed it, Singapore is the destination!

Small disclaimer: in this blog post, I’ll be talking about very sensitive subjects, on purpose, because I feel like giving my opinion and let my voice be heard is quite as important as hearing the voice of others on those subjects. So there will be talk about:

  • Expatriation v. immigration;
  • White European girl wanting to discover as much as she can about the Asian culture(s);
  • Moving v. Traveling

To make things perfectly clear, I’m going to Singapore to work, and work a lot for that matter. And anyway, Singaporean authorities wouldn’t let me stay on their land otherwise. You can find a lot of resources on that subject everywhere on the web.

But to be perfectly honest, I can’t believe my luck.

The Wonders Of Asia

My first expatriation was in Ireland, and it already was quite a change compared to France. I had some preconceived ideas about the culture that were literally blown away by the end of my two years living there. And I’ve discovered things you could never find in books or on the internet. But that’s for another blog post.

But now Asia, this is a whole other story.

As a white French girl, I will say I feel as far from the Asian culture as can be: not by choice, though. I would love to know more about each and every culture composing it, making this culture one of the oldest, richest and most diverse of our world.

COLLAGE ASIA

Japan I know a lot already, due to my early interest in this country and my learning of its language since early 2017. But what about the others?

Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, Cambodian, Dravidian, Filipino, Hmong, Hong Kong, Indonesian, Israeli, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Macanese, Malaysian, Miao, Mongolian, Punjabi, Tibetan, Romani, Sindhi, Tajik, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay…

What am I rambling about? I say this because Singapore is a real melting pot: it has a diversity of languages, religions, and cultures, with 4 official languages, 8 religions being practiced on its land, and at least 9 completely different cultures thriving there.

And for the record, I currently feel two things:

  • I feel very lucky to be able to see what I’ve been dreaming about with my own eyes;
  • I feel disappointed I’ll probably never be able to fit in any of the Asian countries.

Which brings me to my next point:

Why Stay In My Original Country?

…while there is so much to discover elsewhere?

And I do mean discovering it by actually living in those places. Not wandering about during your annual two-week holiday trip.

I’m not saying you won’t see anything in such a short period of time, but rather that you won’t be able to get very much in depth on anything.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I will be touching on those sensitive points I’ve disclaimed above.

I’m not judging anyone, I’m just saying I know you simply cannot get a good idea of a place and its culture(s) while only staying there for less than three months. And yes that’s a totally subjective minimum.

Now, people will have different takes on this, but I also think a place cannot be detached from its living population: therefore it’s constantly growing and you will never be able to know everything about it (but I guess it’s now more a matter of what you consider being a ‘knowledge’… but I’m going too far).

My point is, I’m not saying I wish to discover the Asian culture to then become a sort of sociological expert or a tour guide.

I’m not fooling myself thinking I’ll know everything there is to know about Asia even after living there for years.

But I can try experiencing as much as I can get into my system.

In fact, just so you know I make a point living like locals when I’m in another country. Not imitating, but experiencing life as they do. So that after a while, I can consider myself a local without blushing.

And I’m desperate to do it again soon.

Privileged French Expat’

Okay, third sensitive point. And it may be the worst one for many people. So without getting into much detail I’ll just say this:

Yes, I am white. Yes, I am French and therefore extremely favoured compared to most of the world’s population.

But I can’t do anything about those two things.

Yes, I have the opportunity to expatriate myself, i.e. moving to another country where I’ll be working (/immigrating: moving to another country because my original one cannot welcome me anymore).

And YES, I know how lucky I am and how many people would love to find work in the first place and what’s more find work in another country than their original one.

I’m not saying being aware of it wipes out the fact I still am considered privileged.

I only wanted to address this topic before getting real hate about it, and I know I will get it.

Saying Goodbye…

Last time I knew I would stay in Ireland for 2 years.

This time I’m saying goodbye for I don’t know how long… every single one of my close family members and friends have already planned their trip to come and see me over the next year.

Adventure cannot get more real than that, despite it being a sensitive matter because of my skin colour, nationality and situation in life.

And you know what? Maybe I should be, but I’m not scared one bit.

Until next time,

With love,

Lilly

aka The French Hat


© Photos: Main picture: istockphoto.com – Chinese dragon: EvBiD.com – Lanterns: Desktop-Screens

25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years On Earth

So. On Monday, October 8, 2018, I turned 25. In fact I’m writing this on that Monday evening, just to be sure I get things right, and also because I like being a dramatic like that (yeah).


Dear 24-year-old me,

This morning, when I woke up and realized I was 25 at last, it didn’t hurt as much as you’d thought it would. In fact, I felt pretty good and I still do.

Even though I know I am now a quarter of a century, and technically closer to 30 than 20 (although, not when writing this post because I’m precisely in between) I still feel okay with it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve put way more effort into my well-being and mental health these past few months, but I do feel happier, and more content with my life as a whole.

So, turning 25 isn’t so bad after all. And you do accept it even more when you realize, like I did, that you’ve accumulated quite valuable knowledge so far, that you wish you’d figured out earlier.

So here are the 25 most important things I’ve learned so far. May this knowledge be useful to anyone now or in the future, younger or older.


  1. Life is short.
  2. Take lessons from the past, dream about the future, but always remember to live in the present.
  3. You never know what turn your life is going to take from one minute to another.
  4. Never underestimate your own courage.
  5. What you can achieve only depends on what you think you can achieve.
  6. You have to be brave to fulfill your dreams.
  7. Always sleep on it.
  8. Don’t overthink, because your first take on something usually is the best one.
  9. Love doesn’t come easy, you’ll have to work at it.
  10. Be patient: things always come around.
  11. Never take life-changing decisions under stress or lack of sleep.
  12. Always make sure to make time for yourself everyday.
  13. Open your mind.
  14. Never forget things are never black and white.
  15. People who lie always will.
  16. Learn about History, and your own history: doesn’t define who you are, but gives you perspective.
  17. Don’t despair and believe: the wind will turn.
  18. If you are looking for answers, ask yourself.
  19. Alone doesn’t equal to lonely.
  20. If no one believes in you, believe in yourself.
  21. Your guts never lie.
  22. Always do the best you can.
  23. Always show kindness and understanding.
  24. Never let others tell you how you should live your life.
  25. But, always listen to your Mom (perhaps the best advice of all)

With love and kindness,

Lilly

aka The French Hat