World Press Photo Exhibition 2020

Hello my dear ones,

Life in The Netherlands seems to be slowly going back to (a new) normal.

March, April and May were tough months where I felt like I was running on fumes but, gladly, June came around as a breather. Things are so much less hectic now. We have officially closed the financial year at work and I am all settled in my new house.

Plus, Summer is here, life around me seems to have slowed down and I really want to take advantage of these long days, where there’s daylight untill 11pm.

Now that we are no longer in the confinement period, I can feel like I can dedicate my free time to do things outside my house that bring me joy.

That being said, even though I am still doing home office, I decided to finish work earlier yesterday, catch the train to The Hague (the use of masks and social distance is both obligatory and controlled) and visit the World Press Photo Exhibition 2020.

I love photography and I have been wanting to attend a World Press Photo Exhibition ever since I first heard of it a few years back. I am so glad I finally got round to attend the world’s largest press photography. It did not disappoint. Not in the slightest.

This exhibition showcases the realities and stories of people from all across the globe, whilst spreading awareness about diverse topics such as terrorism, social injustice, economic inequality and climate change.

A selection of photographers from different cultural backgrounds, upbringings and walks of life come together to promote awareness on cultural, economic, environmental, political and social issues through their fine-art photography.

The compeling photos and their captions are genuine art masterpieces that force us to stop, think and feel. Visual journalism in its most beautiful form for sure. I found some of the photos to be a raw and powerful representation of the tough reality lived by many people. I impossible felt so touched. It was an exhibition that really expanded my views about certain global events and it somehow helped me o understand a little bit more this world we live in.

I don’t really like to whip out my phone when I am in an art galleries and museums because I want to feel fully present with all the great artwork that I see. However, during this exhibition I really felt the urge to snap some photos (it was allowed). I really wanted the incredibe photos and insighful captions to to be seared into my brain, you know?

So, here are just a few of the ones that touched me the most ♥ :

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The best kind of art is the one that is able to emationally transport you.

 

If you are a photography lover and live in Europe, make sure to check this link to see if you have this exhibition near you. It is definitely an exhibition worth of our time.

Have a lovely weekend my dear ones.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A week of Breakfasts – II (“lockdown” version)

Hi my dear ones,

I am quite excited to share another week of breakfasts with you as I haven’t written a food-related blog post in quite a long time.

I like having routines that make me feel good and eating breakfast in the morning is certainly one that I love having. The only day where I actually do not eat breakfast is on Sundays and that is simply because I allow myself to wake up when my body tells me to (i.e. no setting alarm) and because practicing yoga is the very first thing I do.

Because breakfast kicks-start my metabolism, I like to be as intentional as I can with it. It really makes a difference in my day and in how I feel when I make the deliberate effort to check in with myself in the morning and ask: “What does my body truly feels like eating?”. Sadly, this is something that is not always possible if I need to commute to work as I was doing before this “lockdown” period. I live in Amsterdam, which is a 30-minute train journey away, and I always prefer to eat once I got to the office. As I am an early bird, I am one of the first ones arriving, which means that I can have a peaceful sit-down breakfast on my own.

Given the global pandemic situation I have now been working from home for just over three months and this really took my breakfasts to the next level! With my home office all set up, I no longer need to prepare my breakfasts in the night before. I get to wake up, do my morning pages, do 1 hour of work or do yoga and then go with the foods my body craves. This has not only resulted in being able to eat in a more intuitive and varied way but also in getting more creativity with my breakfasts! 🙂

I hope that by sharing this post, I can give you some inspiration to try something new and add variety to your morning breakfasts.

For the record, these meal ideas are not necessarily just for breakfast, you can also make them as a snack or even dessert. I know that eating breakfast is not for everybody and that is completely fine. You do you.

 

Monday

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A big cup of fennel tea to support my digestion and homemade heart-shaped chickpeas waffles topped with caramel syrup (0% fat and sugard version just to give them a caramel taste), cinnamon and almond butter.

 

Tuesday

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Gluten free oats soaked in unsweetneed soya yoghurt topped with high protein muesli, fresh strawberries and almond butter.

Wednesday

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Bowl of oat cheerios (less than 5% sugar edition from Nestle because I am really not a fan of sugar breakfast cereal)

Thursday

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Steamed japanese sweet potato topped with almond yoghurt from @Abbotkinney’s , stewed blueberries and raspberries, hemp seeds and almond butter.

Friday

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Stove top carrot cake oatmeal topped with a hint of vanilla aroma and topped with hemp seeds and almond butter.

Saturday

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Bowl of unsweetned yoghurt topped with stewed blueberries and raspberries, steamed orage sweet potato chunks, hemp seeds, high protein muesli and almond butter.

 

Yes, as you may have noticed, almond butter is my most recent food obsession! I know its been around for ages but I used to be very loyal to my dark tahini, ok? haha Anyways, I hope this post has inspired you to switch up your breakfast game or to just try some new snack/dessert ideas! 

Now, tell me, what have you been eating for breakfast lately? Do you eat breakfast regularly? Do you feel better when you do? Would you fancy any of these foods for breakfast/snack or dessert? 🙂 Drop your thoughts in the comments. Everyone is different, so I’d love to hear what you think.

Much love,

Blissfully Grateful

Times of unprecedented change.

These are some mad times we live in. I am still trying to wrap my head around the series of very unfortunate events that have taken place over the last 3-4 months. A global pandemic causing the loss of countless lives. People losing their lives and getting injured   as a result of police brutality and of our unjust political system that sees skin colour above humanity. Anger, harm and emotional damage spreading quickly on social media and all across our nation. One of the biggest oil spills in history staining one of the most pristine ecosystem worldwide: the Artic river. It is like the world is crumbling to the ground. It feels like everything is spinning out of control and life around us is falling into pieces. We are all a little broken right now and as easy as it may be to shut our feelings off, we should not. We must endure this pain; we must feel it so we can heal. Heal ourselves and then heal our planet that has become so wounded.

We live in a time of unprecedented change and it is okay to feel a bit scared about all this uncertainly but.. just remember, in the midst of chaos there’s also opportunity. Opportunity to be better, to do better. Life – as we knew it – has changed forever and instead of rushing to go back to normal, let’s go forward to better. I think we can all use this time to consider which parts of “normal” are worth to rushing back to. Let’s take some time to reflect on ourselves and truly dive deep on our (un)conscious beliefs and on what we to stand up for our values.

We are all on this together and now, more than ever, we have individual and collective responsibility to take care of the planet and of one another. So let’s get united and make tomorrow a day we all look forward to. 

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

April wrap-up with Q&As!

Hi my dear ones!

I am trying to get back into the swing of blogging again and I figured that sharing a monthly wrap up in the form of questions and answers, would be a nice way to do it. This way you can perhaps get to know me a little bit better and see what I was up to in April! 🙂

APRIL WRAP UP

Favourite book(s): “The Likeness: by Tana French (paperback) & Becoming by Michelle Obama (audio book).

Favourite music: “Hope” by Tom Rosenthal. A great tune that fits the period we’re living in just right.

Favourite movie: “The Aeronauts” with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne

Biggest highlight: Moving out from the house where I lived for nearly 3 years and moving out to a brand new house with a big sunny balcony!

Three things that made me very happy during the month of April:

  • Starting the Easter Sunday with an online live Yoga class and getting my sister to join in
  • Seeing my boyfriend after like 6 weeks
  • Getting to appreciate nature more as a result of of my regular runs outside due to quarantine

Biggest realisation: There is this self-principle that has been ruling my life for as far as I can remember: “It is all okay as long as I do my best.” I apply this principle to everything I do and this is what, countless times, has helped me to succeed at achieving what I’ve set my mind to. However, even though this is what pushes me forward and helps me to power through difficult times, this also puts me under the constant pressure of having to give it my best every single time; which, in all honesty, can be extremely tiring at times.

The best habit I got into: Doing a live Yoga Nidra session with a friend of mine every Sunday evening. For those who don’t know, Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that induces that “going to sleep” feeling. The idea is to enter in the stage between waking and sleeping whilst remaining conscious. I seriously can’t tell you how relaxing Yoga Nidra is. I love how “whole”, grounded and peaceful I feel after each session.

Something I absolutely loved to: Make my house feel more like home. A few examples of how I did this was to declutter the space around me and to plant some herbs and flowers.

The best thing I did for myself: I was very consistent with my yoga practice and deliberately carved out time for it 2-3 times a week.

.. and this is it guys! I hope this post has also somewhat served as a reminder of how important it is to do things that spark joy in our life. Now, would you like to share some of your favourites from the month of April? As always, would love to hear from you! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

The books I have read so far this year

Hi my dear ones,

I hope you’re doing all right given the current global pandemic circumstances.

If reading is not something you like to indulge in, then perhaps this blog post is not of much interest to you but I’d still like to invite to stick around nonetheless 🙂

I am always on the lookout of good books to add to my reading list and I personally think that reading changes lives!

That being said, I am here today to share the books I have read so far this year, which by the way has just racing by. Seriously, how did May arrive so quickly?

When it comes to selecting a book to read, we do not discriminate here. Well, almost never. Sorry dear sci-fi writers please don’t take this personal..it is not that I do not appreciate your imagination and writing skills. I do .. but I just never felt very drawn to sci-fi novels.

My book collection is quite diverse and the books that I am about to share in this post are quite representative of that. I usually read what calls to me and that is why I like to have a nice stack of books that is all-encompassing in nature. That way, they can accomodate all my kinds of moods.

 

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This was definitely a great book to get the year started. I loved the witty humour of the author and how well she writes. This was not one of those books where I found the main literary character to be super relatable at all levels but I really enjoyed to get to know her as the story unexpectedly unfolded. The storyline might be sad but I still found this to be a funny and uplifting read nonetheless.

This book shows how social isolation and loneliness can be debilitating over time and, in fact, the leading causes of depression, social anxiety and alcohol abuse.  I would like more authors to take profound loneliness to centre stage as Gail so beautifully did. So many people – of all ages – suffer from loneliness in our modern sociey and I don’t think that there are enough books or movies spreading awareness about it.

I don’t want to give too much away about this book’s story but I would say that if you’ve been in a reading slump, then this book is sure to pick you up of it 🙂

Favourite quote: “If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.”

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GUT: the insider story of our body’s most under-rated organ by Giulia Enders

Even though Biology was never one of my favourite subjects at school, I like to know how the amazing human body functions. I was diagnosed with IBS (“irritable bowel syndrome”) in 2014 and I have been dealing with gut issues ever since. Fortunately, this is just a condition (rather than an illness) that can be mostly managed through our diet, stress management and physical movement.

I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and that was what took me to buy this book in the first place. I bought it with the hope of getting a better understanding on what triggers digestion issues and how our gut is connected with our mind …and everything else in our body really. As you may have already heard “Happy gut, happy life” and I could not honestly subscribe more to this idea. There is a lot of scientific evidence that our gut health is closely related to our immune system, mental wellbeing as well as to our energy and strss levels.

When choosing health- and nutrition-related books, it is very important to make sure that the author has the right credentials. Giulia Enders, the author of this international bestseller book, is a German medical doctor who is clearly very passionate to spread the message that “our self is created both in our head and GUT.:. She works hard to desmystify how our gut health affects our overall health. I love how Giulia also talks about a topic that many people refrain from (yes, I am talking about poop) so openly, passionately and enthusiatically.

Everyone is aware how a healthy brain and heart are essential for us to live a happy life but not many know that the heatlh of our gut is actually just as important.

This was certainly a very informating yet amusing read. I recommend anyone who wants to learn about gut health to give it a go.

For those interested in knowing a bit more of what this book is all about, here’s a TED talk Giulia gave on the gut health topic! 🙂

Favourite quotes:

“We humans have known since time immemorial something that science is only now discovering: our gut feeling is responsible in no small measure for how we feel. We are “scared shitless” or we can be “shitting ourselves” with fear. If we don’t manage to complete a job, we can’t get our “ass in gear.” We “swallow” our disappointment and need time to “digest” a defeat. A nasty comment leaves a “bad taste in our mouth.” When we fall in love, we get “butterflies in our stomach.” Our self is created in our head and our gut—no longer just in language, but increasingly also in the lab.”

“While some of us might be sitting around thinking “Nobody cares about me!”, our heart is currently working its seventeen-thousandth twenty-four-hour shift—and would have every right to feel a little forgotten when its owner thinks such thoughts.”

 

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The Corporation by Joel Bakan

I bought this book quite a while back when I was writing my thesis on ” the efforts of US and EU corporations towards the environment”. It was recommended (along with an handful of other books) by my supervisor. Due to time limitations, I was only able to skim and scan read the book. However, because that was enough to realise how good this book was, I promised myself that I would properly read it once I had more time. It took me a few years to find it in my book shelf but I am so glad I finally got around it.

This book is a critical and very informative examination of the nature of the world’s most powerful institution: the modern corporation.

Bakan takes us through the history of corporations, the reasons for their existence and their behaviour in our society. He compares for-profit corporations to pathologically crazy psychopaths, whose behaviour (so rightly) needs to be regulated by not only the government but also civic action. In this book, the author cuts through the crap (pardon my French) of what some big entities claim about “corporate social responsibility” and describes it as a public relations strategy to hide their solely profit-seeking goals. Bakan shows how this pursuit of private financial gains has led and continues to lead (now more than ever) to environmental and social damages. He also exposes the motivations, weaknesses and legal implications of corporations’ approach and behaviour by providing several convincing arguments and evidence. You will be shook by the influence on political elections and corruption that goes behind some of the corporations we’ve come to know so well and trust.

Despite not being a long book, this is not a light read as there’s so much valuable information to wrap your head around. However, it is certainly worth your mental energy as it is very insighful and eye-opening.

P.S. Apparently, this was also the book that served as an inspiration for the documentary “The Corporation” that won the  2004 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary. I haven’t watched it yet but I have added it to my list of next ones to watch! 🙂

Favourite quote:Corporations now govern society, perhaps more than governments themselves do; yet ironically, it is their very power, much of which they have gained through economic globalization, that makes them vulnerable.”

Have you heard about or read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts? Would you like to read them? What are you currently reading? Please let me know in the comment section below! Always super keen to hear from you guys.

Stay safe and healthy x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

What yoga really means to me.

Today I would like to tell you about what YOGA really means to me. I am of the opinion that the practice of yoga is a deeply personal experience. In my own journey, yoga has unarguably been truly life changing and very transformative. It has helped me to shift and let go of certain old patterns that I have developed over time and that were no longer serving me.

Yoga has also showed me the beauty of surrendering and of letting of the false sense of control that I so want to have.

Regardless of how intense on the body yoga may be, I do not approach it as physical exercise because it goes way beyond moving your body. The practice of yoga encourages a positive relationship between my mind and my body and, thanks to it, I have come to realise mental and physical health are closely intertwined.

Yoga shows me how letting go of the old makes room for the new. It teaches me about self-compassion and self-acceptance. It makes me want to be forgiving, of others and of myself.

Through my yoga practice, I have learnt how deep breathing can be healing, nourishing and enlivening in itself. And if I allow it, yoga pulls me back into the present moment, forces me to slow down and to unplug from the outter world. I won’t deny that this is very very challenging at times but it is so needed and rewarding nonetheless.  By focus on my breathing and by doing certain meditative poses or just laying down in savasana, I am triggering my parasympathetic nervous system and telling my body that it is safe. I am able to relax and just feel present.

Yoga helps me to become aware of what is happening within and around me and I have come to learn that that is one of the most important things we can be; only when we are self-aware can we accept the things we cannot change and let go of what is dragging us down and making us feel stuck.

Every time I step into my yoga mat with an open, non-judgemental and loving mind, I end the practice feeling lighter, grounded and connected within.

Yoga is the path to find peace and stillness within ourselves and if we remain open and centered, we can also find home within our bodies.

Just to finish it off, when I do yoga, I feel like I am back in my element and nothing beats that feeling. ♥ Thus, for all these reasons and more, I can’t honestly imagine my life without yoga. It constantly challenges me in a gentle and kind way to become a better person and I think that when we find something that makes us feel like we are in our element, we just need to hold on tight to it.

 

I hope you liked to read this and perhaps if you do not do yoga yourself, I hope this has somewhat inspired you to give it a go. Now, if you also do yoga, I’d like to invite you to share in the comment section below what it means to you as I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

ByChloe (NY, USA)

Hi my dear ones,

I am back with another hotspot review. I have so many long over due posts (very diverse in nature) to share with you. I have been making a greater effort to be more present in this platform but it’s been busy lately, so please bear with me. Writing and sharing content here is something I really enjoy doing and something I want to make more time for. It is certainly not easy with my full-time Finance job, which entails working long hours during some weeks but hey, I am not complaining at all. I love both my job and this creative outlet. I just need to find greater work-life balance that allows me to do both. I am sorry for not being able to share my experiences as they happen but I hope that is not a reason to put you off from reading my blog posts.

Now, let’s get into today’s hotspot review.

I went to NY with my boyfriend last September for my 26th birthday. This was for sure one of the most memorable trips I have had so far. I loved every moment of it and we got to explore so many different areas of the city, such as Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis island.

Naturally, we also got to try plenty coffee and food spots (something we both love to do together) and it was so much fun!

One of the food spots that was on my list was ByChloe, a plant-based restaurant with locations in NY, Rhode Island, LA, Boston, Toronto, and London. I have actually tried to visit one of their restaurants during my last trip in London but, sadly, I could not make it. However, since this is an American restaurant chain, I am actually glad I got to visit it during my stay in the US.

Location and atmosphere

We visited ByChloe, situated in Rockfeller Plazar, and this is the perfect location if you want to quickly get something to eat before or after going to the top of the Rockfeller centre (or before AND after like it was our case haha).

The inside of the restaurant is fairly spacious, with loads of room to sit and eat in, and it has a super chilled vibe. Luckily, there was no line in either of the two times we got there but the scenario might be very different if you go earlier in the day.

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Food

First, we went to ByChloe for a quick snack because we were feeling a bit peckish and our time slot for the Top of the Rock was not until 8 pm. Afterwards, we decided to go back for more, which just goes to show how much we enjoyed it haha!

We wanted to try a food that was quite popular in America but still small-ish as we were not ready to have dinner yet. For that reason, we ordered a small portion of their Mac n’ Cheese to share and it went down a treat! The pasta had a sweet potato-cashew cheese sauce and it was then topped with shiitake bacon and almond parm cheese. It was creamy and tasted oh-sooo cheesy. The shiitake bacon on top gave it that final perfect crunchiness. Yums! I still need to try to replicate this recipe because it was just scrumptious!

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After being left in awe by the amazing view that the Top of the Rock has over NY, we decided to go back to ByChloe for dinner.

I ordered the Kale Caesar sale with shredded, chopped romaine, shiitake bacon, avocado, almond parm cheese, maple-wheat croutons (SO GOOD!), sunflower seeds and caesar dressing. I usually order any dressings that my food might have on the side but this time I kept all the ingredients in my order so that I could try the true original version. I am glad I did because this was definitely a salad done right! I loved the combination of different textures and it was SO wholesome and packed with flavour!

My boyfriend ordered the BLT sandwich with shiitake bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle aioli served in a 7-grain toast. He is not a huge fan of plain simple avocado but he totally approved the whole combo. His favourite part was the shiitake bacon, which I agreed that it was just to die for!

 

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Price

I found the food to be not too expensively priced for New York, especially given the great portion sizes. The small Mac n Cheese was $4.95, the Kale Ceasar salad was $11.45 and BLT sandwich was $10.95.

Service

 

The service was very efficient. We placed our orders at the counter, our names were noted down and called when our food was ready.

Good sense of humour and friendliness are the two things I appreciate the most whenever I go out to eat and ByChloe did not disappoint at all when it comes to this. The person who served us was super nice and funny. When I told her my Portuguese name, she looked at me very confused and with no idea on how to either pronounce or write it. My boyfriend jokkingly replied” actually her name is “James”. She laughed and immediately replied “Ok James, you both can sit down and I will call you when your food is ready!”. I really loved how she just played along (and for the record she did shout “James” when our orders were ready). 

All food comes served in recyclable and compostable packaging that is appropriate for take away. I understand that the food is marketed in a way that suits the New York lifestyle and that by using eco-friendly plastic free packaging, ByChloe is already doing better than half of the businesses in town. Nevertheless, I still find that to be a bit wasteful if you are actually eating in like it was our case.

On a more positive note, ByChloe is a restaurant chain that is mindful about the quality of the food used and is committed to use ingredients that are organic, seasonal and locally sourced (whenever possible).

 

Whilst ByChloe isn’t necessary in the business of peddling “ultra-healthy” industry (and it does not have to be), you can certainly still opt for options that are more on the whole foods side. If you are in the mood for something sweet, ByChloe also got you covered with their cupcakes, cookies or even their banana bread. All in all, there’s a wide variety of food options to appeal to everyone’s taste! If I ever have the chance to visit one of their location, I will certainly do so. Whether you are vegan or not, I would totally recommend you to check this place out if you are anywhere near the Rockefeller precinct!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Do not rush through life.

Do – not – rush – through life. Make sure you know when to hit “pause” so that you can enjoy your time here to its fullest. Take it slowly.

Trust me, I know that it is not easy to slow down when you feel like you’re lagging behind work and you have a never-ending to-do list BUT remember:

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” —Mohandas K. Gandhi

On the surface of things, there might be the chaos but if you just stop and observe.. you will also be able to see the stillness in the objects all around you.

I know that we may thrive when we have tight deadlines or when we push ourselves to get somewhere. I also know how good it can feel to do things quick and when we power through something difficult. I know the sense of achievement and accomplishment we get when we finally finish something “big” at work/school, despite all the stress, sleepless and fatigue.

We try so hard to keep up with our work, fitness routine and social life. We try so hard to be the good employee, the good friend, the good daughter, the good wife/girlfriend.

We want to be on top of our game all the time. Every single day. We want to do more; BE more.

.. but this non-stop “go go mentality” takes a toll in both our mental and physical health.  We become detached from ourselves and the outter world. We become disconnected from our own emotions and needs and life just passes by (…). For all these reasons and more, today I just want to leave here a reminder. A reminder for you, for me and for everyone else who does too much and still feels it is not enough.

Take life in bite size chunks. Do not spread yourself too thin. Take life one day at a time and just as it comes. And, as difficult as this may be, we will find it expands the time that we often lack. 

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Much love,

Blissfully Grateful

January highlights.

Hi all,

At the beginning of each month, I like to hit “pause”, step back and reflect on the one that has just past. I am sorry for this long overdue post about my January highlights… I started writing it in the beginning of February but then life got in the way and time just went by in a blink of an eye.

Anyway, let’s just get to it.

In my opinion, carving out time to reflect on our achievements (as well as struggles) it is very important for our personal growth. I feel like when I am introspective, my self-awareness and sense of gratitude increase and, as a result, I can better tackle challenges that might come my way head on. This being said, I think everyone should take some time to reflect on what they’ve achieved and experienced every month.

No matter how hectic life might be, we are all worth some time for. 

So about January.. I feel very humbled and grateful for all the happy moments and all the “firsts” I got to experience. Naturally, not everything was wonderful (I mean, is it ever is?). I’ve also had my tough moments where everything felt rather overwhelming.. but they surely do not make my January any less good. After all, the way we perceive what we experience depends on the lens through which we choose to view our life.

The highlights/experiences I am just about to share were actually a really great reminder of how exciting life can when I adventure into the new. So, here they are:

1. Ice skating

Coming from a place where ice skating is not a thing, I am so excited I got the opportunity  to try it. This was the very first time I ice skated in my 26 years of existence and boy was it fun. I must say that I am not the most coordinated person but I am quite outdoorsy and basically love all kinds of sports (collective sports, winter sports, summer sports, etc..).

I have been wanting to give a go to ice skating ever since I moved to The Netherlands and I have finally done it YAYAYAY! This experience was sponsored by my company and it was so much fun! My balance and coordination were definitely challenged and I am pretty sure I did not look very graceful whilst ice skating (at least certainly not when I fell and got my bum wet haha) but I really reeeeally enjoyed it.

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2. SKALAR live show

In Christmas I got my boyfriend and I two tickets for this live show of light and music in Amsterdam and I am so pleased for having done so. It was absolutely spectacular and I can’t honestly compare it to anything that I saw before.

This large-scale artistic production is delivered by the German light artist Christopher Bauder and by the musician Kangding Ray. Every single one of their shows is unique.

If you are a very visual person, then you’re sure to love it. These two great artists bring “choreographed light and electronic music to life in real-time” and it is impossible not be left in awe. We were sat down and looking up for one hour in order to absorb as much as we could. What an amazing sensorial experience this was!

 

 

3. Visited two coffee spots that were on my “cafes to visit” list for way too long

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you are well aware of how much I love to explore new cafes.

I have always found inspiration surrounded by people and by the smell of coffee. Hence why I have always loved to study and write at cafes. I like when the atmosphere is laid-back and creative but that is certainly not the only factor that matters to me whenever I am at a cafe. I care about the transparency of the coffeeshop when it comes to the sourcing and production of their coffee. I care about the quality of the coffee and whether it is organic and fair trade or not. I care about the service and the genuine love of the people running the cafe.

A cafe can look like the most instagrammable place but if it lacks soul, then I won’t most likely bother to go back.

All that being said, I am very happy to say that I have finally crossed off two different coffee spots from my list of cafes to visit in The Netherlands and they did not disappoint.

You can see some photos of both below.

The Village Coffee & Music, Utrecht

 

Bocca Coffee

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A good cup of coffee is more about the passion injected into it by the barista and the hard work of all of those before him in the supply chain than anything else.

 

4. 17Km Leersum hike 

I had this 17km hike to Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a national park in the south of Holland, planned since December per the invitation of a friend of mine. This was probably my longest hike ever and, as strange as it may sound, I felt somewhat recharged after it. It was a different way to spend my Sunday with my boyfriend and friends but I really enjoyed the experience. I also got to explore a beautiful area of The Netherlands that was new to me, which was lovely.

There’s something quite special about being completely immersed in the natural world, far from the “civilization”. I am a firm believer that a walk in the woods can do wonders for our mental health and that nature is the antidote to a stressed and overwhelmend mind. Our own breathing and footsteps, the fresh and crisp air on our faces, the rustling trees.. all of this provides a sense of tranquil awareness that I simply can’t put into words. Being out in the nature can be so healing and I want to do it more often. Plus, going for this hike with my boyfriend and friends gave us some uninterrupted time to catch up on “life”, which was great.

 

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5. Sprouting workshop

I’ve always naturally gravitated towards nutrition- and health-related topics. For that reason, I got super stoked when I found out that a work colleague is a nutrition therapist and gives workshops on how we can best benefit from incorporating certain fermented/sprouted foods into our diets for optimum nutrition and digestion!

If you follow me for a while, you probably know that I have IBS (“irritable bowel syndrome”) and, as a result, my body struggles to digeste certain foods. Since my diet is based on plants, my protein intake comes from them. Legumes and beans are rich sources of protein but are not great for sensitive digestive systems due to their indigestible carbohydrates. Thus, given that I can’t consume them on a regular basis, I have to rely on tofu and soya milk/yoghurt as my main sources of protein. This is of course not a bad thing but it naturally limits my diet in terms of vitamins and minerals.
To those of you who don’t know, sprouting foods like legumes (e.g. lentils and chickpeas) and even grains (e.g. wheat and barley), reduces their fodmap content, making them easier to be digested and absorbed by the body. Plus, sprouting foods also tends to enhance their nutritional value, making them richer in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins C and K.
That being said, because I wanted to learn how I can best add variety to my diet without increasing my IBS symptoms, I decided to attend my friend’s workshop about sprouting foods! She took us through the entire sprouting process and it was so insightful and informative! I was able to deepen my knowledge about all the nutritional benefits of sprouting different grains,legumes and seeds and how we can eat sprouts for optimum digestion. At the end of the workshop we got to eat a yummy lunch all together (with sprouts of course!). We had a warm bowl of coconut pumpkin and spinach soup with some toasted sprouted bread. Both so flavourful and nourishing. I also brought home a sprouting starter kit and a booklet with lots of useful information. I have already started to grow my own sprouts and I am finding it sooooooo exciting!! 🙂

 

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Lastly, but certainly not least:

6. My 4-year anniversary in The Netherlands 

A highlight that made all the above highlights possible.

I can’t believe that 4 years have gone by since I moved to this country. It really does not look like that long at all but hey, it really is how they say: Time flies when you’re having fun. 

I moved here to do my master’s degree, got a job shortly afterwards and stayed here since then. I have learned and grown so much during these 4 years. It has been a roller coaster ride with ups and downs but not even once have I regretted the decision of moving to The Netherlands.

 

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…And this is it! My highlights from the very first month of 2020. I’d now love if could share some of your 2020 highlights in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks a lot for reading and wish you a lovely week ahead!

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Self-care.

I hate how “self-care” has become this buzzword that is so often casually thrown around. It has also been a term used by companies over and over again to make you think that you need to buy X or Z in order to feel better about yourself. This misconception really makes my blood boil.

From my own personal experience, I can firmly state that you need YOU to feel better about yourself. You need to carve out time for the things that matter to you; for the things that make you feel alive; for the things that make you forget – even if only temporarily- of the bad that goes on in your life. 

Early last year I was having some sleeping issues that went on for months and months in a row. I would find myself stressed and with too many worrying thoughts at night time and that really was taking its toll in my sleeping patterns. Thus, one of the habits that I have since then deliberately incorporated into my eventing routine was to read at least 10 pages before going to bed during the workweek. The “challenge” was not in reading itself but in carving out the time every single evening to do so. This is now my favourite way to end a hectic day because it helps me to zone out the strain of the day and it quiets my thoughts. As it puts my brain into passive mode, I nod off so easily afterwards. Using my electronic devices until I am ready to sleep is a habit that I no longer have and certainly one that I don’t intend to slip back into.

Journaling (nearly every single day) and doing yoga are my other two go-to tools/strategies for self-care. They make me connect within and feel so grounded.

 

 

We are all individuals and, for that reason, what works for me might not work for you..but please, do take the time to check in with yourself, understand what your needs are and seek them out. I have come to learn that it is key to engage in activities and habits to bear against feelings of stress, sadness and emptiness.

Self-care is not about selfishness, self-centeredness or self-indulgence. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, you feel more present, focused and at peace and this can only enhance the relationship that you have with yourself and with others. You need to show up for yourself before you can show up for others.

All that being said, if there is something I would really like you to take from this post is that:

Prioritize the things that “refuel you, rather than take from you”. Life may be relentless at times but you are doing the best you can. So, just be gentle to yourself and “give yourself the love and care you so freely give to others”.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have found it helpful in some way. Is self-care something you value and prioritize in your life? If so, how do you choose to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, my dear ones x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful