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

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

 

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

The best movies I have watched this year.

Hi everyone,

Before diving into the main subject of this blog post, I hope you all had a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a WONDERFUL START TO THIS BEAUTIFUL NEW DECADE.

 

Watching movies has always been one of my favourite pastime, regardless of whether they are new or past produced. Going to the theather or watching a movie from the comfort of my home (meaning being all curled up on my couch/bed in my comfy clothes) is undoubetedly one of my go-to forms of self-care. ♥ Thus, with a brand new year right here, what better way to embrace it than by reflecting on and writing about something I love: movies!!

Today I want to share my favourite movies of 2019! You might have heard about them as they are all fairly recent. These movies vary quite a bit from each other in terms of genre, storyline and acting but they are in my opinion all worth-watching. Let’s get started!

Green Book (2018)

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I firstly heard about this movie due to the various awards, golden globe and oscar it won and after watching it, I get why it has attracted so much attention.

The movie is based on a true story and it takes us on a journey about overcoming self-condemnation (homophobia and racism involved) and the wonderful feeling of freedom that results from it. It tells the story of how two seemingly different people (upgringing-, education-, life experience- and character-wise) became really tight and real friends over time. It also shows us how a genuine friendship (despite how unlikely it may seem to be) can be all we need in order to grow, evolve and change our life perception. We only need to be open to it so that we are able to put our own prejudices aside.

I absolutely loved how the story unfolded and, in my opinion, this movie has it all. A great, thought-provoking and solid scrip-writing, witiness and terrific acting. It is definitely a moving, eye opener and beautifully crafted movie.

Favourite quote:

“It takes courage to change people’s hearts.”

Bohemian Raphsody (2018)

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Queen is one of those unique bands that will live forever. Watching this movie reminded me of that and it sort of blew my mind away. It made me smile and laugh, sing and even tear up. The acting performances were absolutely amazing and I’d say that they perfectly portrayed the members of the band. I could feel the energy bursting through the screen all throughout the movie.

The Live Aid at the end of the movie was exquisitely recreated and just left me whishing I could have seen Queen live.

Favourite quote:

“I am exactly the person I was always meant to be. I’m not afraid of anything.”

The Lion King (2019)

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It was actually my partner who came up with the idea of going to the theather to watch The Lion King 2019 and I naturally agreed without even thinking twice! Its original release in 1994 was, in my opinion, one of Disney’s greatest hits and, for that reason, I was really looking forward to watching the remake on the big screen!

Despite what many critics say about this newer version of The Lion King, I personally really enjoyed the movie. I was so excited to watch it and after doing so, I happily say that it lived up to my expectations. The scenes were very captivating due to the photorealistic computer-generated imagery and the voice work was great. Timon and Pumbaa stole the show. They’re one hilarious duo and I laughed out loud (perhaps even too loud at times #sorrynotsorry).

Even though there were two new tracks, specifically written for the remake, featuring Elton John and Beyoncé, I was happy to realise that all my favourite songs from the original movie were incorporated. You should have seen me proudly mumbling the lyrics all throughout the movie! haha

In my opinion, this remake added something “new” to the original version while staying true to it. It retells the heartwarming story that we all know with enhanced visuals and some nice new “freshness”! Definitely an entertaining watch that brought back a sense of sweet nostalgia.

Brief remark: my boyfriend and I decided to buy the tickets for the 3D version and we both thought that it was not worth the extra money. The movie did not really utilize the 3D technology. I honestly do not think that the few 3D effects made it any more special or realistic. The movie in its regular 2D version is alreaady a technological achievement in itself.

Favourite quote:

“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.”

 

Joker (2019)

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This movie exceeded my expectations and it was certainly worth the money spent on the theather tickets. Brilliant scenography as well as grotesque and haunting performance from Joaquim Phoenix. His character development was absolutely outstanding and he is honestly such a certified legend!

I am aware of the critic reviews claiming that it is a movie that encourages real-world violence but I certainly do not perceive it as such. I think that rather than seeing Joker as a movie that inspires antisocial violence and extremist behaviours, we should see it as one that inspires us to treat one another with respect so that everyone feels like they belong in this world. In my opinion, Joker illustrates – in a very raw and realistic way -how emotionally debilitating loneliness and isolation can be. I would also say that it is also somewhat a critique to society because it shows the bureaucratic indifference that is oftentimes given to mental illness.

Just to round up my thoughts, Joker is simply a cinematic masterpiece and a powerful political statement. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I’d recommend it to do so.

Favourite quote:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

Klaus (2019)

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Even though I love a good animated movie all year round, I find it even more enjoyable if watched during Christmas. In my family, we only open our presents at 00:00 of Christmas day. We play board games until it is time for our big family dinner (aka feast) on Christmas Eve and then we watch a movie all together to keep us awake until the stroke of midnight. Klaus was the movie we picked this year and little did I know that it would be such a great, funny and heart touching one.

I found the story to be quite original. The characters were grounded and I also really enjoyed how great the visuals were.

This movie is sure to spark laughs just as much to invoke tears and it has certainly become one of my absolute favourite Christmas animations. It is a true “feast for the eyes, mind and heart”.

Favourite quote:

“A true act of goodwill always sparks another.”

 

Have you watched any of these 5 movies? If so, how did you like them? Also, what were the favourite movies you have watched in 2019?

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My takeaways from a busy week at work.

My 1-month work probationary period ended on the 1st November and I passed it: YAY!!

The week prior to it was also my very first crazy busy week at this (now not so new anymore) job. I feel like it taught me a lot and because I think we can learn a lot from other people’s stories and experiences, I would like to share my main takeaways from it in this blog post.

As you know, I like to keep things real here and I am not going to lie..It was quite a rough week and I got home feeling both frustrated and mentally drained in most of the days. Even though I was working for long hours, I still felt like I was lagging behind work. Subsequently, I started to think that perhaps I was not picking things as quickly as I should or that my reasoning was not as sharp as it was expected from me. Basically that negative self-talk – that is nothing else than a bunch of BS – came around. To make things worse, this was also a week of overall bad sleep mainly due to the self-imposed pressure of wanting to perform well during my first financial month end closing in the company… Thankfully I have a partner who gives pep talks like no one and he reminded me that my self-worth is not defined by how “good “or “less good” my days at work might go. He also reminded me to just see the situation as it is, instead of trying to make something of it. I tried to follow his advice and just take one day at a time. I managed to do all my tasks (some with additional support from my manager and others without) on time, everything went well and I felt proud of myself and of how much effort I put into c. All I needed was to give myself some grace and time to get “my feet on the ground” in my new job position.

Once my week reached to an end, I went home and just poured my thoughts down on paper. This is something that never fails to bring me groundedness and mental clarity. Journaling about my first busy period at work helped me to put things in perspective and made me realise these takeaways. So, with no additional digressions, here are my lessons learnt:

 

  • If I want to to do my job well at all times, I need to be able to dettach my sense of self-worth from unexpected issues that arise and from any mistakes I might do. In other words, when things are not going as I had hoped for, I must get focused, not emotional.
  • It is never about winning or losing. I am either winning or learning (wise words from Nelson Mandela) and there is a lesson in every struggle.
  • I do not have to perceive my days as just “good” or just “bad”. I can have a day with some ups and downs and not
  • I need to stop being so self-critical. My harsh inner critic robs me of mental strength and that is the last thing I need when I am faced with a struggle.
  • I can’t keep on preaching about self-love and then be so hard on myself.
    • If I make a mistake, I should move on from it and find a solution for it. Nobody sees an apology as an useful thing unless I am offering something of value in return. So, when I make a mistake, I should think of a way to fix it. My mental energy should go into finding a solution instead of immediately apologising for it, internalising it and feeling like I am failing at doing my job right.
  • While this is certainly a challenging job, it is also one that I am really enjoying doing and one that is sure to make me grow both personally and professionally. And these are all good enough reasons to feel grateful for it. Plus, this exactly the kind of job I wished for so long. Things at work will get hectic and life will get chaotic from time to time and that is ok. I should be grateful for that and just remember when I wanted what I currently have.On that note, these busy days at work really showed me how gratitude is the way to go.

Gratitude will always bring me back to myself. ♥

 

Funnily enough, after writing all these points down, I realised that you can actually take them to all realms of your life. They really are applicable to all sitautions we may go through in life.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and would love to know in the comment section below if you would like to share a different lesson/takeaway from a stressful and busy and/or rough time you have had at work? Also, how do you cope with times like that? I am always open and eager to hear about other people’s experiences! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful