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 arrived 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

 

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

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

 

October Intentions.

Even though a minute ago was still July, we are already halfway the month of October and November is on its way. The air has become crispier, the nights are coming sooner and Mother Nature is now just showing off its fiery colours. Fall has always been my favourite; not only because how beautifully the world around us changes but also because of everything it represents. Fall is a season of change. A season of renewal. A season of letting go of the old and welcome the new. And I have never felt all of this like I am currently feeling this year.

“Fall. Everything about this season guides me home, signals me to settle back into myself.” – @mamaeatsplants

My life gave a 180 degrees turn during the last couple of months. When I quit my job at the end of August to accept another one that is more aligned with my interests and ambitions at the company that I have been wanting to work for ages, I was so sure a new season was approaching. Well, I was not wrong. A new one was indeed approaching, not only in terms of “real seasons of the year” but also in terms of seasons of life.

It is easy to fall into the habit of running on “automatic” for routine tasks with little thought to our intentions and emotions. Everytime I experience a big change in my life, I like to just force myself to stop, breathe and take time for self-reflection and real instropection. Sometimes I really need to shift my focus and energy from goals and seemingly endless to-do lists to real simple intentions. When I do this, I become more aware of my thoughts and own feelings. Plus, I have come to realise that it can be pretty easy to get bogged down in the small day-to-day stuff and, as a result, lose sight of the things that really matter to me. For that reason, I am happy to have found that the act of setting intentions helps me to re-center myself in my own being and to reframe my thinking. It allows for a good mental review and reset, which sometimes is all we need to be at the top of our game.

Without further ado, these are my 7 intentions for this month:

  1. Make time for Online Dutch classes and make a greater effort to speak Dutch.
  2. Prioritise self care by taking better care of my skin.
  3. Go to bed earlier during the working week in order to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  4. Get back into my Yoga practice.
  5. Finish the book I am currently reading: “Autumn” by Ali Smith.
  6. Make time to catch up with friends over a nice cup of coffee or tea.In order ways, to create time and space into my schedule
  7. Get outside in order to appreciate Nature displaying its fiery fall colours.

… and ere are a few photos that I took to illustrate some of my above intentions! 🙂

 

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Now, just a small reminder as this post is coming to an end: Intend for everything you wrote down to work out as it should but then let it all go and allow opportunities to come your way. When setting intentions, dettachment from the outcome may not come naturally to us but I see as fun-da-men-tal. So, all in all, live with intention, embrace the uncertainty and be happy on your own terms. ♥

 

Are you someone who usually sets intentions? Have you set any for the month of October or for the current fall season? If so, please share below. I’d love to hear what you have chosen to focus your energy and attention on! 🙂

Wish you a lovely week ahead x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Live the story you want to tell.

So much has happened over the past 7 weeks. There was a 180 degree change in my life. Many of the things that I have been wishing to happen for the past year or so have finally happened and one thing is for sure… I am so grateful for where I am right now and I am so excited about where I am heading to.

As I wake up this morning in my semi-dark bedroom, at the house I grew up in, and hear the rain outside..I feel nothing but joy and gratitude. I am currently on vacation in my homecountry and it feels like this is the best way to say goodbye to the current season of my life. A new phase is approaching. I will be welcoming a new season of life in exactly one week. A season that is sure to bring forth new opportunities, challenges, learning and growth.  If there is one thing that I have come to realize is that we should “Live the story we want to tell”. And, for this, we should bear in mind two very important things. Firstly, we are the changemakers and the change we seek is oftentimes within us. Secondly, our story can be reshaped every time we decide so.

 

I hope you have enjoyed to read this short post! Enjoy the rest of your week xx

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

A lousy Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 2

Some days are just harder than others. Sometimes life gets a bit too much. And today was just like that. I was not necessarily sad but I just felt really empty. Unexplainably empty. As a result, I found myself wishing to have my boyfriend, best friend or mum around just so they could hold me tight and I could feel safe. No words would be needed. Just a hug and their heartfelt look that speaks silently “heyI get you. It is not easy but you are gonna be ok.” (…) They are my support system and not having them around (because they live in a different country/city) makes it harder to cope with this kind of days. Nevertheless, this has also taught me how I can “pick myself up”. I called it a day, went home and allowed myself to have some peaceful downtime. As I went to bed I whispered to myself these few words in the most gentle and kind way that I know: You are safe. You are ok. You will still succeed despite these bad days. First I let it hurt and then I let it go.

So, If today is one of those days where you are feeling a little bit lost inside, do not dwell on it. Instead, show some compassionate for yourself and for how you feel and let this post be a reminder that:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful