Year: 2019

Books I read in 2019

Reading has always been my thing. I find reading deeply therapeutic and relaxing, so it was a welcome escape from what was a stressful and pretty draining year. I wasn’t able to find time to write a quarterly reading list like I did last year, so here is a list of all the books I read in 2019. I read some brilliant books this year and  found some new authors whose work I thoroughly enjoyed and  will be reading more of in future. (If you’d like to some more detailed reviews, there’s a book highlight on my Instagram).

Here is the list.

  1. House Rules – Jodi Picoult
  2. We Are Water – Wally Lamb
  3. Emma – Jane Austen
  4. The Clockmaker’s Daughter- Kate Morton
  5. Change of Heart – Jodi Picoult
  6. It Ends With You – S.K Wright
  7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  8. The End of Loneliness – Benedict Wells
  9. Leaving Time – Jodi Picoult
  10. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. To Capture What We Cannot Keep – Beatrice Colin
  12. Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
  13. Dreamology – Lucy Keating
  14. Sad Girls – Lang Leav
  15. Dear Evan Hansen – Val Emmich
  16. The Hanging Girl – Eileen Cook
  17. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  18. The Dreamers – Karen Walker
  19. The Lake House – Kate Morton
  20. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
  21. The Muse – Jessie Burton
  22. The Translation of Love – Lynne Kutsukake
  23. City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
  24. Night Music – JoJo Moyes
  25. The Cliff House – Amanda Jennings
  26. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  27. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

My only goal for 2020 is to keep reading and not to force myself to finish books I don’t like.

What did you read this year?

Nabeela x


My journaling practice this year

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a keeper of diaries. It was always more a record of my days rather than a deeper delve into my thoughts and feelings. As I’ve gotten older, it has turned more into that. But I’ve always found it slightly terrifying to write my feelings onto paper, where other people could possibly stumble across it.

However, this year, I’ve found journaling to be an immensely valuable practice. It has helped me to unpack the many things that cause me to be anxious and has led to my being more aware of how these things affects my daily thoughts and wellbeing. I’ve always been quite self-aware which can actually be quite frustrating. Imagine knowing how toxic your thought patterns are, knowing exactly where they stem from and what they are caused by, and still not being able to do anything about it.

Another thing that has kept me from journaling in the past has been the pressure (that I’ve placed on myself of course) to write neatly, fill up journals and actually feeling like I have something interesting enough to write about. But once I gave myself the freedom to let my handwriting be messy and my entries erratic, I ended up doing some of the most useful journaling I’ve ever done in my life.

It gave me a place to physically get out my concerns and things that cause me to be anxious. I could read through my thoughts, and use it to come up with ways to deal with issues I was facing (when I could), and seek help when I couldn’t. It was not foolproof. Sometimes, it just became a place where I brooded and wrote awful, negative stuff down. But other times, it was lovely. Even just writing it all out and seeing everything on one page, in one place was enough to calm myself down a bit.

I let go of the idea that I have to write every day or even every week. When I felt like writing, I did. Sometimes it was two sentences. Other times it was four pages. And then sometimes I just didn’t write at all. I stuck random things in or used highlighters. when I felt like it. And sometimes, I just imagined writing stuff down (when I was too tired or lazy to actually put pen to paper) and that in itself was enough (I promise I’m not nuts – try it).

I made use of resources or prompts at times. Other times, I just did whatever I felt like. But the one common theme for my 2019 journaling practice is that I did what worked for me, at a given time. My journal is not a pretty thing to page through and it’s not meant to be. It’s the one space I allow myself to be messy, inarticulate and inconsistent. And I love it.

I really enjoyed this video and these journaling prompts, so check those out if you want some extra insight. (Some of the prompts felt a bit too intense for me, so I didn’t do them all. Just the ones I felt like doing).

Another thing I found since starting to journal is that my writing has improved a bit, so that’s another plus.

I hope you can find some value in picking up some kind of journaling practice. May 2020 be full of self-improvement.

Nabeela x

On making peace with imperfection

When I was about 7 years old, I decided to move bedrooms. One day, I just packed my stuff and moved from my pink-walled, pink-curtained, little-girl room into the guest bedroom. And I’ve been here ever since. At the time, it was chaos. I was a messy child. And then one day something clicked and I went from one extreme to another. In senior primary school, I was one of the tidiest, organised and most pedantic children you’d probably ever come across. My school books were in alphabetical order in my bag. And basically everything I owned was organised in rainbow colour, or alphabetically. Everything had a special place, whether that was in my desk at school or my room at home. I would spend ages cleaning my room every day and even sometimes let it get super messy for a day so I could have the pleasure of cleaning it up. If something was out of place, I would feel a physical discomfort. Everything had to be exactly where it was supposed to be, at all times.

Thankfully, as I grew older, my perfectionistic tendencies decreased. The sight of a messy room no longer causes me physical discomfort. (More just a nagging urge to clean frantically). However, I am more picky about other things now. Like no bright colours being an absolute necessity. (To such an extent that photos of my bedroom have been mistaken for a hospital room. How charming).

However, one thing has remained. In times of chaos and stress, when I feel like my life is out of my control, I cling to the areas I can control. Keeping my room tidy. Controlling my food. My sock drawer. And whilst I’ll admit that this hasn’t always been the healthiest thing for me, it has helped me to make peace and release control in the areas where I simply don’t have any.

For me, every time I can go for a few days in a messy room, or miss a 90 on a test and not have an existential crisis, it’s a small win. I’m learning to make peace with the part of my personality that values control, order and tidiness whilst still allowing myself room to be a little messy and have some room for imperfection. To allow for the fact that things do not always to go to plan. And learning that that doesn’t mean I’ve failed or that everything is ruined. It’s a process. I’ve also realised that my anxiety is best kept under control when I feel in control. So, I’m learning what that looks like and how to help myself. It’s physical for me. Writing everything down. Making lists and plans and calendars and timetables and spreadsheets. And it might sound a bit much, but it works (most of the time). That’s all I guess.

Nabeela x

Good Stuff 05. / Pichulik Plenty

I’ve written about Pichulik before, but I just can’t help writing about them again. Every single time I get an e-mail to announce the launch of a new collection, I eagerly go onto their website to moon over the new pieces. And every single time I am blown away by the incredible detail and beauty of it. Plenty, the SS20 collection, is no different. Aiming to “invoke the notion of abundance without excess”, the range is striking, luxurious and interesting. As usual, the campaign imagery is an absolute visual feast. So I’ll keep my two cents brief and let the pictures do the talking…

Nabeela x

(I had such a hard time picking which images to put in!)


What no one tells you about Matric

About 10 days ago, I wrote my final paper of the National Senior Certificate, which is one of South Africa’s school-leaving examinations. Matric is an intense year to say the least. From university applications and a seemingly endless stream of work due to the daunting reality of being thrown into the “real world” pretty soon, there is much reason for anxiety and stress. However, as someone who has anxiously anticipated matric for a very long time, and having been through it all, I feel like there is a LOT of stuff that people don’t tell you about matric. Sure, they scare you by telling you how stressful it is and how much work it requires, but there is a lot that I was never prepared for and it left me feeling a little unsure of myself from time to time. So here are some things that no one really tells you about matric…

  • Every single person you meet who hears you’re in matric will ask you what you’re studying next year and where you’re studying and how exams are going and what subjects you do. And it will be annoying and may add to your stress, but best you get used to it because you will be answering those questions about a million times in your matric year. Also, some people will have strong opinions about your choice of course and place of study and will try to convince you to do something else. Be prepared for this and remember that you don’t really owe anyone anything. Eventually, I just adopted the smile and wave approach in these situations. You get used to it.
  • It’s not quite as awful as people make it out to be. Sure, it is really stressful. You spend most of your matric year studying and preparing for exams and it leaves little room for anything else. But many schools finish the bulk of the syllabus by June so that gives you a lot of time to revise your work before finals arrive. Matric is a really special year with so many opportunities to make precious memories with your friends and grade. Try your best not to let the stress of the year detract from these moments (I know its easier said than done). The work you do in matric isn’t any more difficult than the work you do in grade 11 either. So you can have some peace of mind about that.
  • Having good grade 11 results saves you a LOT of stress in matric. So if you’re in grade 11, do your best, make good notes, and try to achieve the best results you can – your future self will thank you.
  • The end of finals is anticlimatic. Maybe its just me, but I kind of know it isn’t. You just look forward to it for so long and when it finally arrives, it’s kind of like an eh moment. You go from working like crazy to literally nothing. And it kind of sucks.
  • At the end of the day, it’s still just school. Your health should never be put second to school work or anything at any point – please try to take care of yourself and not let your mental or physical health slip if you can help it.
  • You will be pushed. Hard. If you are someone who is academically strong, the pressure from your school, family and yourself can be a LOT to handle. I know that I’ve felt like I’ve had to prove myself which I’m starting to see is not true. I would urge you to just try to be focused on your own goals and what you’ve set out to do. I know it sounds cliché, but if you do your best, no one can expect anything more from you. Working for yourself is SO important. The only person who can impact how well you actually do is you. And you’ll find that once you put other factors aside and just work hard for yourself, when you achieve things, it will be so much more rewarding.
  • You WILL get through it. There will be days where you will wish that it could be over. There were days where I felt so overwhelmed and scared and alone that keeping my tears back felt like an impossible task. But there will also be days when you feel confident and in control. Ride the waves. Ask for help. Take things day by day. And just keep breathing.

There are a hundred more things I could say, but I feel like these are the most important ones. I’m certainly no expert on these matters, but I really wanted to get all of this down before I forgot it. If you’re in grade 10/11, I really hope this offers a different perspective to you. Good luck! Also, to all my fellow Matrics of 2019, I hope it went well! Results day is in a month (yikes), so hang in there and have a lovely holiday.

Nabeela x

Zanzibar in photos

In June/July, I was fortunate enough to travel to Zanzibar with my parents and siblings. Zanzibar is one of those places with such a tranquil aura that even a person with an overactive mind and inability to rest (me) is forced to slow down. We spent some time on the beach and also spent a few days in Stone Town. Zanzibar is a beautiful destination and is culturally rich too. Here are my photos…

This place has my heart and I would go back in the blink of an eye.

Nabeela x

Good Stuff 04. / Best

When I stumbled upon Best on Instagram, I was instantly captivated by the beautiful imagery and graphics. But what drew me in even more was the brand’s focus on emphasising the fact that a woman doesn’t need jewellery to be more beautiful – she already has everything she needs.  This stuck with me – so many brands nowadays profit off our insecurities and to see a brand go against that notion is so refreshing. Founded by Rebecca Scher, Best has a range of understated, elegant earrings and rings that are simple enough for everyday wear, yet still feel luxurious. The range consists of pieces of varying shape and size, so everyone’s preferences are catered for. Here’s what Rebecca had to say about the brand.

What inspired you to start the brand?

There are two main reasons why I started Best. The first reason stems from a more personal story of growing up and trying to “fit in”. The person I wanted to be was different from the person I thought the world needed me to be – a phenomenon not unfamiliar to many of us! I ended up judging myself, what I was doing, where I was going, what I was wearing – all together exacerbating the self-conscious woman inside of me. Upon leaving high school, I then went on a mission to practice more self-love and felt immense power in being able to take my mask off, be vulnerable and say “this is me”.

The second reason stems from trying to understand why we put up these “masks” in the first place. There is an interesting social reality that we face in the world today. It has never been easier to show ourselves to the world. Yet at the same time, because we have so many platforms and opportunities to show ourselves, we choose to “curate” ourselves into these unrealistic images of what it means to be human. And for far too long, brands have told us stories about how we’re not good enough. This leads to a lack of self-love and unnecessary comparisons with the world around us.

I created Best with the vision to change the role of brands in our society and to step up socially and change the narrative of what it means to truly “show” yourself. I want to see a world where women can feel comfortable sharing an image of their face post an acne breakout or sharing the moment where they felt unhappy or perhaps in their assessment, not beautiful. By sharing, we can work toward influencing the way women feel about themselves, for the better.

What three words would you use to describe Best?

Authentic, inclusive and encouraging 

What are your hopes for the future of your brand and business?

I want to be able to create a global community of women who come together, support each other and celebrate all that makes us feel our Best.

Find Best online here, here and here. Here’s to another female-owned business doing pretty amazing things.

Nabeela x

Some skin things

I haven’t chatted about my skincare routine for a while, so here’s a little update. First things first, my routine is no longer 100% natural. I’ve been trying out a variety of skincare products for about 2 years now, and have found that my skin is happiest when I use a combination of products. After using only natural products for a while, I was breaking out and my skin just wasn’t where I want it to be. So, I’ve made some changes and tried my best to still use products that have good, clean ingredients. Another thing that’s become a big factor when it comes to picking my skincare products is fragrance. The more research I do, the more evident it becomes that fragrance in skincare is bad news. So, here are the products I’ve been using lately…


I’ve been using the Eucerin DermatoClean refreshing cleansing gel. I’ve been happy with it so far. It leaves my skin feeling clean, but not tight or dried out.


I have two on the go at the moment. For daytime use, the Eucerin Aquaporin Active. Its worked okay, but I’m not sure I’d repurchase it. The texture feels too much like sunscreen for my liking. At night, I’ve been using the Aloe Unique Essential Night Cream. It’s quite thick, so it’s been working well for me. I think when these two are done, I’ll go back to a product I can use in the morning and at night.


I apply SPF to my face every day after my morning skincare. I use the Nivea Sun 50 Shine Control. I’m on my third bottle I think, simply because it works well and it is the most affordable option I can find. I may give the Avene one or even a k-beauty brand one a shot next time.


I’ve been using the Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner and I’ve enjoyed it. I was hesitant to use a product with acids originally, but it has proven to be quite gentle. I also use micellar water to remove make-up. Usually, I switch between the Garnier one and the Bioderma one.


I have used Ocean Salt from Lush for a while, as it feels like the only one that actually works for me. However it can be quite harsh, so I use it only once a week or so, and quite gently.

And that’s that. If you have any recommendations for toners (or anything else), please leave a comment! I’ve always looking out for new brands and possibly more affordable options.

Nabeela x


On Pressure and Expectations

As someone who places an incredible amount of pressure on myself, crippling self-doubt and unrealistic expectations are two things I am well versed in. I know that this is something that many people struggle with too, and it can be so exhausting to try and navigate.

There is a quote that reads “diamonds are coal that did well under pressure”. These are the types of quotes that make me hate Pinterest. And I love Pinterest. We live in a society that glorifies working yourself to the bone to achieve something, even if it is at the expense of your mental health and physical wellbeing. I’m here to tell you this – we’ve got to stop. And I say “we” because I’m talking about myself too. It can be so easy to get caught up in trying to achieve highly all the time. But sometimes, this is not realistic and can be unsustainable.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have goals or aspirations. I believe that having a clear purpose or goal is one of the most important elements to achieving success, no matter what area of your life it falls under. Goals motivate us, keep us going and remind us why we started. But. They can also overwhelm us, and make us lose sight of how well we’re already achieving. It gets to a point where nothing feels good enough. This is not a happy or healthy place to be.

Recently I’ve come to realise just how critical I am of myself. I’ve had to think about whether I’m doing more harm than good, and challenge my thought patterns which I previously just took as “being driven”. I have also realised that when I don’t achieve some ridiculous goal I’ve set for myself, the only person who is mad about it is me.

I’ve learnt that sometimes, it’s not worth the drama. It’s not worth the “its not good enough” dialogue that seems to play out constantly in my head, and that not getting a 90 on a test doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things. Life will go on.

So, here’s to being a little kinder to myself. To giving myself a little more room for error. To breathe. To be a human being. I hope you’ll join me.

September Musings

I know I’m not alone in saying that 2019 has simply flown by. Next week we go into the final quarter of the year! It almost feels unreal. My online presence this year has been erratic to say the least. School has been busy and life in general has not left much time for my usual pastimes. I’m back nonetheless to do a bit of blogging – things feel a bit slower right now so it feels like a good time to pop back in.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a month for South Africans. August is Women’s Month, and September saw violent, horrific crimes committed against the women in our country. Like many women and men alike, it has left me feeling incredibly overwhelmed, helpless and scared. All of this  has been weighing heavily on me and I’ve found myself having to take a step back every so often just to calm down and collect myself. It’s been quite a thing to navigate.

On a happier note though, there has also been so much good! The summer is approaching, which means that Cape Town experiences all the seasons in a seven-day period. Think sweater weather one day and beach weather the next. The sun has such a wonderful effect on me and always makes me feel uplifted and happy, so I’m grabbing any opportunity to soak up some sun as the warmer weather approaches us.

I’m hoping to do some more writing over here over the next few months. It feels so unreal that I started this little blog when I first started high school, and here I am, finishing off high school (but hopefully not blogging) next month.

It’s been a wild ride – thanks for sticking it out with me!

Nabeela x

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