A week of self care.

It was just over two weeks ago when things got quite tough and, subsequently, I found myself craving a reset button that I could press to escape. All I was wishing for was to get away for a few days and then come back with a fresh and brand new perspective. An entire week of holidays scheduled in Portugal could not have come at a better time. I was in need of ditching my work and fitness routine for some time and was looking forward to going back “home”. Nevertheless, after a couple of days in Portugal, I ended up by feeling quite out place. It seemed to me that “home” no longer felt like “home”? ..or I guess that I could no longer see “home” like a place but more like a feeling instead. A feeling that comes and goes and that is out of reach when life seems to be going downhill. A feeling that is unreachable when I am in the midst of – what it seems to be – an endless storm and internal battle. Seeing the positive in every situation and looking on the bright side of life can be a real challenge sometimes. I guess that I saw these holidays abroad as an opportunity to temporarily escape my reality, which is a silly thought…We can’t run away from the things we do not want to face. We need to embrace the uncomfortable and challenge our fears in order to free ourselves. We need to firmly believe that we are going to overcome whatever we are currently going through. Life gets better and this too shall pass. It is just a matter of time and attitude until we are able to get back on our feet. And, in the meantime, we are just a work in process and that is OKAY. So, with this in mind and in order to feel like myself again and get out of the rabbit hole I found myself in, I tried to practice self care every day during my holidays. Incorporating simple habits that allow myself to connect within and with the world around me helped me to find some joy and gratitude in the midst of all the chaos.

It is no novelty that by practicing self-care on a regular basis, we can ensure that we are at our optimum – emotionally, mentally and physically. Thus, I’d like to share with you the things I have done during my week of holidays. I hope that this can give you some ideas about how to give yourself the care you need when life gets tough.

  • Walks on the beach

Beach strolls are always restorative. They make me feel calmer, more at peace and aware of all the beauty and wonder that surrounds me.

  • Sea Kayaking with my family

I have done kayaking before but never in the sea. It was an overall great experience shared with my parents and sister (despite my dad’s motion sickness haha). Spending about 3 hours at sea allowed me to really dive into Nature’s true beauty (no pun intended), soak up some vitamin D and connect to the Earth’s magical, powerful and soothing energy.

 

 

  • Going to the spa

I decided to take 1h30-2hours aside to go to the spa and it made me feel so good. Because relaxation and stress management are key to living a happy life in a healthy body, mind and soul, I decided to take 1h30 – 2 hours to go to the spa .. and let me tell you how great it made me feel! My serotonin level, the “feel good” hormone, was boosted and I felt very relaxed.

I did a Spa-hydrotherapy circuit that consisted of Sauna, Turkish bath, neck waterfalls, cascade, jet showers, bubbles, cold water, Jacuzzi, bucket of cold water, pebble walk and a relaxation bed. This was all followed by a nice cup of tea to end the day in perfection.

 

 

  • Reading a good book is an escape for me. – it soothes me

Reading soothes me. I personally love to read inspiring books that flood my mind with uplifting ideas, positive thoughts and promising prospects about my future. I absolutely love to loose myself in books that contribute to my personal growth and development and that motivate me take positive actions to accomplish my goals in life.

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  • Yoga and meditation

These two practices help bring awareness to the present moment at the same time that increase stress resilience and well-being. They also restore mental clarity and improve focus, which is needed to get though difficult times.

We all know how conducive self-care is to better coping with life and improve overall well-being but … how often do we really take time to ourselves? How often do we give our bodies (and mind) time to recoup and unwind? Let’s all prioritize small habits that allow us to rejoice in hope when life gets hard ♥ Wish you all a great week ahead.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Pure Happiness by the beach.

Good Morning! I have flown to Algarve (South of Portugal) yesterday to spend some holidays by the beach and.. let me tell you guys:

Falling asleep listening to the sound of gentle waves crashing on the beach, waking up the next day to a view of the blue sea, stepping onto the balcony for a morning cappuccino was absolutely priceless. It gave me such a deep feeling of gratitude and pure joy. Happiness really is all about appreciating the simple things in life. ♥

 

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I am currently reading the book “Invisible Power” by Ken Manning, Robin Charbit and Sandra Krot and I am loving it so far because it is enabling me to see life in a new light. This book shows that reality is no more than our thoughts in actions. With this being said and after experiencing so much gratitude during these last 24 hours, I want to share with you a quote from the book that really resonates with me: “Your thinking shapes, colors and sets the tone and texture of everything you experience“. I find this to be so undeniably true. I feel like our perceptions, emotions and personal experiences are created within us since our mind is what ultimately creates our reality.  Hence, it is so important to manage our thoughts and be somewhat careful not to let situations that we deem to be “bad” to dominate our thinking. Our attitudes, feelings and behaviours, which directly stem from our thinking pattern, have the ability to make us go down a slippery slope into a really bad mood that drains our all our energy and focus.

Wish you all a lovely Sunday and in case you are going through a rough time, please, tell yourself to look on the bright side. Positive thinking is so powerful and it is what is going to take you through this bumpy moment in your life.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

Letting go of the need to control what I can’t.

As a goal-setter and over-planner, I oftentimes fool myself into the faulty thinking that I can control how everything in my life unfolds. This is a pure act of self sabotage that only leads to frustration. I am sure that all of us, at some point in our life, have experienced physical, mental and/or emotional tensions that make us burn our  emotional energy wastefully. These tensions evoke feelings of uneasiness and we ended up by finding ourselves somewhat “stuck in time” trying to make sense of the chaos in our life.However, I have come to realise that in order to bring emotional well-being and spiritual freedom into my life I must let go of what I can’t control. I must learn to surrender and acknowledge that there are things in life that cannot be planned, predicted or prevented.

No matter how hard I may try to plan ahead, life is always going to throw surprises my way and that is the true essence of it. Thus, keeping this in mind, I recognise that my need to control is rooted in fear and I am letting myself be open to whatever life throws my way. I choose to let go of my need to control what that I can’t as well as to let go any thoughts that do not serve me. Of course that this requires a mindset shift that is definitely not easy. It is actually very challenging and a journey in itself. Nevertheless, it does get easier as we go.  Things in life go much more smoothly, when we simply allow them to happen instead of attaching ourselves to outcomes, push things to happen how we want them to and try to run the show of life. If we do this, we will see life as being more peaceful, effortless and overall more joyful. We will be able to see a whole new plethora of opportunities.

Letting go is not “to get rid of” because, oh well, that is just not realistically possible.What I mean by it is to become aware of it but emotionally detach myself from it. The need of control will still be there, but if you don’t identify with it or hold onto it, it can no longer hold onto you.

I have realised that in order to let go of my need of control, I must:

  • Learn to surrender to the here and now. The present moment is all we really have and can rely on.
  • Learn to trust in the Universe and to go with its flow whilst embracing uncertainty. Swimming against the current of life is exhausting and pointless and it will only bring pain and suffering into our lives. I recognise how important it is to go with the Universal flow of life, use it to pave my future one moment at a time and believe that I will be able to deal and handle whatever is thrown my way. At the end of the day, we “grow through what we go through“.
  • Learn to see life through the eyes of Love and accept whatever comes my way as it is. Accepting the unforeseen and seemingly bad situations is key for my life to fall into place. After all, I just magnify and give power to whatever we refuse to accept and resist.
  • Make “thinking positively” and “feeling great” top priorities in my life. I attract what I invest my time and energy into.
  • Be gentle with myself at all times and acknowledge that I am enough and capable to tackle and successfully overcome any setback. 

     

So when your head is spinning around in circles trying to get one step ahead of a situation that you perceive as a threat, just stop and get in touch with your inner emotions so you can grasp the reason for that need of control. Once you understand it,  then let your feelings be without acting on them. Even when you find yourself trapped in fears, anxiety and worries because something bad just happened or is bound to happen, please do not let that situation consume your thoughts. Accept it and have confidence that you will be able to handle. By accepting it, you will experience less distress and you will manage to think more clearly and reach a solution. Focus your emotional energy on what you can control, rather than on what is beyond your control.We can’t take full control over everything that happens to us but we can certainly take the steering wheel of our life and lead it in the direction we want.

I strongly believe that our thoughts and beliefs shape the way we interpret our reality, and, ultimately, help to create it. From my standpoint, there are only a few things in our life that we can control. They are our thoughts, actions and how we react to what happens to us. As a direct result, by taking control of these things we might indeed control what happens to us.

Our frame of mind dictates the way how we live our lives so let’s wrap our mind in a cocoon of positivity and acceptance of what is beyond our control and let it take an active role in shaping our reality. ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Karibu Cafe (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

There is nothing better than waking up right next to your significant other and slowly (but happily) realise that it is weekend. I can enjoy a slow start to my day, with no alarm to disable or rush to get up.

This was what happened last weekend. It was Saturday morning and my boyfriend and I decided to go for a hearty late breakfast at a recently opened cafe in town. Luckily, the weather was fairly warm and beautifully sunny and we had a lovely morning walk to the cafe.

The place we went to is called “Karibu Cafe” and is situated in Utrecht, Holland. It is an African inspired cafe that resembles a green oasis. I absolutely love the jungle vibes it irradiates.

 

The inside is very spacious, colourful and oh-so-pretty! I absolutely love the jungle vibes this cafe irradiates due to being filled with green plants and the use of wood all over it.

This is definitely the spot to chill with creative souls/your most beloved ones over some yummy food or to simply get some work done.

They also serve breakkie all day. How awesome is that? Seriously?

I ordered an Acai bowl that came with homemade granola and toasted nuts, avocado/raspberry/date mousse, chia pudding, coconut and seasonal fruits! It was so delightful and heavenly that just the thought of it waters my mouth! If you happen to come to this lovely cafe and feel like having a healthy (i.e. antioxidant-rich), refreshing and naturally sweet breakfast or snack, I’d totally recommend ordering it.

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My boyfriend went for the huevos rancheros that came with a crispy veggie tortilla topped with black beans, melted cheese, two fried eggs, fresh tomato salsa,
jalapeños and sour cream. According to him, if you feel like eating something savoury and are vegetarian (or just someone who eats animal products), then this would be also a tasty food option. He has also ordered a fresh homemade apple juice that did not disappoint.

 

What do I like the most about this coffee shop?

  • Hearty servings at a reasonable price. Plus, you can see and taste how food dishes are carefully prepared using fresh ingredients
  • The diverse vegan options available in the menu, from healthy salad bowls to naturally sweet treats and fresh cold pressed juices
  • The inviting atmosphere with fantastic light and welcoming touches of nature
  • Friendly and hospitable staff. I love going to places and feel that the staff are really happy to work there. They are friendly and welcoming not because they should be but because they genuinely want you to have a great experience
  • It is such a hidden gem! The fact that this cafe is tucked away, being situated just outside the city centre, is actually a plus for me. Otherwise, I am sure that it would be hard to find a place on a late Saturday morning

The only downside I would point out is its schedule: open from Wednesday till Saturday from 8:00am – 4:00pm. The opening and closing times during the weekdays and weekend are, sadly, not the most convenient for someone who has a full-time job.

Anyway and all in all, this place has not only met but also exceeded my expectations. It is a cafe with soul and a real paradise for foodies just like me. It has effortlessly became one of my absolute favourite places in town. ♥ So, if you happen to be around, please go to Karibu cafe and let it amaze you.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A well spent day off from work.

The past Thursday, 10th of May, was Ascension Day in Holland and this national holiday could not have come at a more perfect time, right after the financial quarter end at work and right before my boyfriend came to stay for just over a week.

Generally speaking, I am very happy how my day off went. All the little things that I end up by doing turned out to be exactly what I needed to recharge and feel at my best again! It was not a “to-do-all-the-things-that-I-need-to-do-but-can’t-do-whilst-I-am-at-work” kind of day but a day that allowed me to reset my perspective and left me better off.

First off, I had a very restful night and slept for 8 hours, something so often underestimated these days. As I went to bed early-ish, I did not need to sleep in to get a good and long night of sleep and, as a result, I woke up feeling very refreshed and ready to seize the day!

I got up and drank a full glass of plain celery juice first thing in the morning. I then put on my workout clothes and got all ready to leave the house. For breakfast I had a bowl of quinoa porridge topped with cinnamon and a tiny bit of white tahini. I ate it all whilst catching up on some youtube videos. Once I finished eating breakfast, I headed out to the gym for a strength training and cardio classes, one of my favourite group workout sessions. Plus, I just love when I have the chance to work out in the morning. It gives me that extra energy boost to efficiently tackle my day.

On my way home I stopped by the supermarket to get some groceries and ended up by buying this gorgeous bunch of colourful tulips. I just could not resist it! I love how they brighten up my indoor space and make my house feel like “home”, especially in this beautiful season of blossoming love. ♥

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After a revitalising shower and some house chores such as doing laundry, I was quite hungry and made myself some oven baked sweet potato chips with smashed avocado and a large squeeze of lemon juice. The perfect combo! Plus, these chips don’t require any type of oil to get crispy or tasty…trust me, they are simply delicious and so easy to wolf down! haha I have also eaten a bowl of a homemade mushroom and veggies stew! It is so important to get all the essential nutrients in and feed our bodies right! 🙂  

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Because skincare is also self-care, I decided to take some time after lunch to devote my full attention to properly take care of my skin. I don’t think I need to endorse the amazing benefits of having a self care routine as I am sure you are pretty aware of them. On my face, I used a foaming cleanser, a hydrating mask with organic argan oil and to finish off, a natural toner mist spray. On my body, I simply used a hydrating lotion. All the products I used are vegan, cruelty free and with natural ingredients and I love how they leave my skin soft, gloomy and soothed. As you can see, I like to keep my skincare routine quick and simple as I am of the opinion that less really is more. When it comes to cosmetics, I prefer to go for quality over quantity.

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Even though the weather was quite gloomy outside, I decided to go to one of my favourite cafes in town, which is like 5 mins from my house, and do some writing for the blog. By doing this I am using my time productively whilst doing something that I really enjoy doing. I ordered my usual cup cappuccino with organic oat milk. It never disappoints!

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When I got home, I decided to do some cleaning around the house and organise one of my kitchen pantry drawers. Bringing order to this drawer was something that I needed to do for a while and I knew that I would feel better after getting it done. It always gives me a sense of accomplishment to do something that has a tangible result and cleaning up my external environment feels like cleaning up my own psyche. As it is often said, “tidy home, tidy mind”!

Afterwards, I prepared some celery juice for my next 2-3 mornings. After reading the benefits for gut health that plain celery juice has in an empty stomach, I decided to give it a try and see how I feel. I have been doing this for just over a week now. I can’t lie that digging the straight up celery juice requires an acquired taste but if my gut benefits from it, then it is definitely worthy!

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For dinner, I made a hearty and creamy soup only with veggies and healing spices such as ginger and turmeric. I will have to post this recipe at some point because it is definitely one of my go-to soups whenever I feel like eating some homemade comfort food.

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I watched an episode of Greys Anatomy whilst having dinner. It is one of my favourite series of all time!

After a quick catch up with my boyfriend, mum and one of my besties, I decided to disconnect from technology and do some bedtime reading. Churning through some pages before I go to sleep is something that I have been trying to turn into a winding-down daily ritual. I feel like it clears my mind from my day-to-day worries and unwanted thoughts and prepare my body for sleep. Besides that, ditching technology just before bed is a healthy habit that I want to bring into my life since it is known to trick our brains to think that they need to stay awake and alert.

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The things that I have done may seem quite mundane for many but what I wanted to show with this blog post is that we should not feel forced to do something super special – like “going on new adventures” – just because it is a public holiday where we don’t have to go to work. We can equally enjoy it by doing seemingly “trivial” things that we actually like doing. In short, focusing our energy and time on some but key activities might end up by having a significant impact on our mood and energy level the next days; it might end up by being exactly what we needed to be at the top of our game.

I feel like we are likely to do better in all parts of our lives if we take the time for ourselves and do whatever we feel like doing, big things or small. ♥ At the end of the day, the way how we choose to spend our days is, of course, the way how we spend our lives. 

Please let me know in the comments if you share these same thoughts or not. Also, what are some of the things that you like to do when you have a day off work? 🙂

By the way, I am currently reading the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. Has any of you read it already? Would love to know!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Shall we strive to buy all our food organic?

I think that most of us is pretty aware of the harmful impact that conventionally grown produce might have on our health and, therefore, recognise the importance of buying organic produce.

I have been considerably growing more environmentally conscious over the past year, basically since I have finished my studies and started my first real job. As someone who is financially independent, I get to choose where I spend my money in and that is a great and freeing feeling.

One of the goals that I have set for 2018 earlier this year was to be more mindful when it comes to my purchases. This implies a greater awareness about the importance of  buying fair trade and organic.

Today I am here to talk specifically about the foods that we should always strive to buy organic, the ones that are okay to consume if conventionally grown and why.

The idea of writing about this topic came to mind after listening to the Rich Roll podcast “GMO’s, Glyphosate, and Healing the Gut” with Zach Bush. As I found it both very insightful and inspiring, I wanted to share some very interesting information that I learnt.

First of all, one thing that was mentioned in the podcast and that has particularly resonated with me was “We have more power than we allow ourselves to believe when it comes to healing ourselves”. I am a 24-years old girl who, despite having a very active lifestyle and caring a lot about nourishing my body with healthy and nutritous fooda, has been struggling with IBS issues for about 4 years now. If there is something that I have come to learn is that my gut health is strongly connected with the way I live my life, namely with my day-to-day habits. With this being said, the podcast really hit home and reassured me that the ability of getting my health restored lies also with me. When I say “health”, I am referring to both my physical and mental health because they are intrinsically connected. I think that everyone would agree that having a toxic lifestyle caused by nutritional deficiencies, lack of sleep, negative mindset and self-talk and being subject to constant stress or anxiety serves no good to our bodies or mind.

Anyway, this podcast taught me about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists, which are no more than the foods that we should try avoid consuming non-organic at all costs and the ones that are okay to consume conventionally grown because are the least likely to be contaminated with pesticides/herbicides.The entity responsible for elaborating and releasing these lists every single year is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Thus, given the reliable source who provides this information we can rest assured that is btoh accurate and trustworthy.

Pesticides and herbicides can be easily absorbed into many of the fruits and veggies we consume on a regular basis and, ultimately, into our bodies. By knowing this, I feel very fortunate to live in Holland, where there are well-sized and well-stocked organic markets and stores. Additionally, I’d also say that there is also a fair amount of organic restaurants when compared to other European countries. However, in all honesty, despite knowing how prejudicial non-organic foods can be for my health, I still consume some due to convenience’s sake. I can only speak for myself but, from my standpoint, the truth is that non-organic foods are sometimes just more easily available and affordable.

Needless to say that I’d really love to be able to buy all my foods organic but there are months where my financial budget is just more tight and, as a result, I can’t afford spending as much food in organic produce. Thus, being informed about the foods that are safe to consume in a non-organic form just comes in handy for me! So, let’s start by sharing the list of the Clean Fifteen foods according to the 2018 report released by the EWG.

Clean Fifteen List:

  1. Avocados (great news for all the avocado lovers – myself included – out there!!)
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pinneapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Now, the list of the foods that we should buy organic whenever possible because their high likelihood of being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and chemicals:

Dirty Dozen List:

  1. Strawberries. I was very choked to read that a single strawberry was shown to contain 22 different pesticides. This is outrageous and just one of the main reasons why I love to have the choice of what I put into my body.
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

I suggest you to have these two lists on your phone for quick and ready access when you are shopping 🙂

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Ah! Just before finishing off this post, I would like to share a small tip with you that i have recently learnt. In order to wash off chemicals of your fruits and veggies, try to soak them in tap water mixed with baking soda. This was shown in a research study conducted in the University of Massachusetts to be a better solution at killing pesticides than just using plain tap water.

 

I hope you could find this blog post somewhat informative and please do let me know in the comments how easy and affordable it is for you to get organic produce! 🙂 Also, what are your thoughts on this? Do you try to buy organic food whenever possible or not because you don’t think it is worth the usual extra cost?

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

A lovely day in London.

 

I travel to the UK quite often, normally to South East England, the seaside of Kent. It is absolutely beautiful there.  However, every time I have the opportunity of going to London, which is where my sis and one of my besties are currently living, I happily take it!

I’d say that London is most probably one of my favourite cities in Europe. Its hustle and bustle, all the amazing free museums and art galleries/exhibitions, the historic architecture and old stunning buildings, the food culture, the black cabs and red buses, its tucked-away shopping streets; its characteristic theatres, old English pubs and coffee shops; the riverside area; the music scene, etc (…). Plus, for a nature lover like me, the fact that you are never be far from a park is just another thing that allures me about this big city! There is always something exciting happening in London and I feel like you can never know the city too well as it is always changing.

I travelled to England about two months ago to visit my boyfriend and we decided to go to London for a day. I though I’d share what we did there as we both had such a great time, despite the grey-ish weather. Plus, as you guys must know by now, I love to talk about all my happy experiences and could not miss this opportunity.

We headed to London early-ish in the morning and shortly after having a quick breakfast at home. My boyfriend had some coffee and toast and I had a bowl of soya yoghurt with berries.

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We had a lovely and smooth train journey and we arrived to London at around 10:30am.

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11pm: Lovely stroll around St. James Park. Okay, the weather might not have been great but it did not prevent us from enjoying the greenery.

 

1pm: First stop – Restaurant Tibits. Since the day started early, when lunchtime came around, my boyfriend and I  were craving some yummy, filling and nourishing food. This vegan lunch just hit the spot! As the planner that I am, I had looked up this restaurant prior heading to London and it did not disappoint one bit. Undoubtedly, one of the best vegan restaurants we have ever been to. Even though it’s a self-service buffet, you can taste just how fresh the ingredients are. This place is seriously a haven of health with a great atmosphere and its wide variety of plant-based (main and dessert!) dishes is to die for.  It might not be the cheapest restaurant in London to get some food but it is certainly worth the money.

2pm: Catch up with my sis over a cup of green tea at the cafe bar at Royal Albert hall (no photos taken). At that time she was finishing her PhD at Imperial College London and undergoing the busiest and most stressful time since she started her studies. I was super glad that she took a break from her PhD thesis to meet us. She was able to take her mind out off it for a couple of hours and we all enjoyed the time we spent together.

 

 

4pm: A walk down Regent Street. Its beautiful architecture towering along both sides of the road amazes me every single time I see it.

 

 

5pm: Tea O’clock. Well, at least for me. Apparently, I am the only one in this relation who is not British but has the habits of someone who is! haha We have also met up one of my best girlfriends, whom I hadn’t seen in over two years, at this lovely English pub. It was so nice to be reunited with her and realise that nothing has changed between us since we both move to different countries. I have missed her so much. Seeing her again has also reminded me of how important is to make the effort to keep our friends close in order to maintain lifelong friendships. ♥

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7:30pm: Musical “Wicked” at Apollo Victoria Theatre. I really enjoyed watching it in the company of my love. I’d say that the narrative and overall performance of all actors and actresses involved is superb. The singing, the dancing, the lovely scenes were kind of magical as well as how the entire story unfolded.

 

All in all, it was a long but oh-so-fulfilling day! It was so nice to build some new and beautiful memories in London, which is the main reason why I love each and every time I go there; whether it is for several weeks in a row or just for a single day.

 

Hope you have enjoyed reading this post! Have you ever been to London? If so, did you enjoy it? What are things that you find most fascinating about the city? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully grateful

One day at the largest flower garden in the world: Keukenhof, Holland.

For those of you who don’t know I live in Holland for nearly two and a half years and absolutely love it! The fact that Holland is a relatively a small country doen’t take any beauty out of it. There is so many wonderful cities to visit and amazing things to experience. Today I am here to talk about one of them: Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world.

Keukenhof, best-know as the Garden of Eurone –  is the largest garden in the world with 32 hectares of flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes. Sounds almost surreal, does not it? Now that I have the chance of visiting it in fesh, I would best describe it is as this beautiful paradise full of an abundance of colourful flowers that adorn 15 kms of pathways. Everything that surrounds just glows. It is so vibrant and aesthetically pleasing that you just get lost in Nature’s beauty by walking through the vivid and vast gardens displaying so many different vivid blooming flowers.

Visiting Keukenhof has been on the top of my bucket list of ever since I moved here and this year I have finally crossed it off. I had high expectations and this beautiful spring-flowering park did not disappoint. I encourage any person who lives or come to the lowlands in Spring time to visit Keukenhof. It runs from Mid-March until Mid-May every year.

I thought that my parent’s visit in the middle of April could not be a more perfect occasion to go to Keukenhof. Since they love being out in the Nature and have a soft corner for flowers, I decided to surprise them by buying the tickets before hand and taking them there without telling the destination or plan for the day. Seeing how amazed and thankful my parents were as soon as they realize where they were made it all worth. It felt great to be able to do something nice for them.  Plus, it turned out that I could not have picked a better time to visit it. From what we heard that day, we went just when Spring was at its peak and tulips were in full bloom. It was an unique and magnificient experience to see such a wide range of different spring flowers in bloom, like tulips (my favourite 🌷), daffodils and hyacinths.

There is just this brief remark that I feel like I really need to share with you guys though. The challenge of visiting this flower garden is, undoubtedly, to take a picture with tulips without getting it photobombed by someone who was not supposed to be on it! Believe me, the struggle was real!! haha

Anyway, the Keukenhof gardens are located just outside Lisse, a cute little town in the South of Holland. Lisse is known for its scenic, long and colourful strips of tulip fields, which are in fact one of the country’s most photographed landscapes. Seeing this  wonderful scenery left me absolutely mesmerized and reminded me that there’s so much beauty in the world. Being outdoors and somewhere new allows me to fully immerse myself and, in a general way, just appreciate life more. ❤ It is impressive how Nature never fails to amaze me.

This garden certainly shows the real essence and beauty of Holland. If you love flowers, then you won’t want to miss this. Do yourself a favour and add this place to your bucket list. Trust me, you are going to literally have a “blooming great time”! 🙂

Here are some of the photos:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Slowing down.

Sorry guys. I know it is been a while but sometimes life just happens. I have been trying my hardest to balance my professional life with my personal and social life, which has been quite challenging. Trying to balance them out has forced me to disconnect myself to a certain extent from this online social platforms. Sometimes this is what we need: disconnecting from social media in order to fully connect with life.

The past 2/3 weeks have been crazy hectic. My full-time job, usual fitness routine and some other tasks kept me very busy during the week days and then some social and travel plans kept me occupied and active during the weekends.

I had days when I felt pretty overwhelmed due to being overloaded with work and some inner thoughts but I also had other days when I felt overwhelmed with pure happiness and love instead. Love from my partner who is always so thoughtful and supportive. Love from my family who is always so caring and helpful. Love from my friends who encourage positive change and help me cope with bad times. I could not be happier with my social life at the moment since I have had the chance of being reunited with my parents, boyfriend and some of my best friends in three different countries and in a space of like 10 weeks. Although the past months have been very fulfilling, they have been also quite intense.

I think that I ended up by temporarily forget that cramming my life full of endless to-do’s and plans can be also a health hazard. There were several weeks where I got home feeling absolutely shattered and worn out every single day. There were some rough nights of sleep that – perhaps due to anxiety and stress – did not allow me to wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. On top of it, because I had plans for every weekend, I did not really find the time to completely unplug from the day-to-day. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I do not enjoy having plans in the weekends. I really do, especially when they imply lots of travelling, exploring new places and meeting up with people (which was the case during the past few months). my busy weekends have resulted in many new, happy and special memories that I wouldn’t change for the world. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that not having a weekend to myself for 12 weeks in a row left me mentally drained. I value alone time a lot and I need to have weekends “off” from time to time due to the breakneck pace of work all week long.

As I get to the weekend feeling often stressed out, reactive and scattered, sometimes all I want is to have some solo time to relax my mind, unwind my thoughts and recharge. Reading, writing, planning the week ahead, doing yoga and/or meditation are all things that allow me to empty my head and clear my thoughts. When I am able to do this during the weekend, I feel refreshed and can hit Monday ready to go. On other hand, when I have too many busy weeks and weekends in a row, things end up by getting purely overwhelming for me and, as a result, I find myself struggling to re-gain my control over and balance in life.

In order to have a balanced life, I need to have a handle on certain internal and external factors that I find very important. Put simple, internal factors are my mind; heart and health and external factors are my work; relationships with my boyfriend/family/friends and involvement in social events/fun activities. Even though both types of factors are interconnected, I feel like when I am too focused on the external factors, I tend to lose focus from the internal ones and vice-versa. This is exactly what I have been experiencing lately.

I had one of my best friends coming from Germany just to visit this weekend and we had such a lovely time together but now that she is left, this is actually the first Sunday afternoon that I have all by myself. I am devoting myself to  writing, reading and yoga, which is exactly what I needed to feel grounded and clear-headed. Now that I have taken some time to just slow down, reassess my life and re-prioritize, I feel like I have found myself again.

Although the upcoming two weeks and six weekends are not going to be as free and probably run as smoothly as I would like, I think it is time to slow down and take back control. When the pace of my life gets too fast and things get too chaotic again, I just need to force myself to stop, breathe and refocus. I need to make time for the things that bring me inner peace, calm and groundedness. After all, as Ghandi once said “There is more to life than increasing its speed”. ♥

Can you relate to this in some way? How do you find your balance in life? Would lovely to hear about it in the comments! x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Nature is love.

Funny as we, humans, crave deep nature connection but often times forget to notice its reaction to our presence. We tend to undervalue it but Nature is really a true gift. Why? Because:

Natures gives without demanding

Nature listens without interrumpting

Nature heals with no side effects

Nature cares without having second intentions

Natures exists without destroying

Nature speaks without making sound/in silence

What Nature will not do though, is to be forever here for us if we do not treat her right.

Let’s not forget that what we do to Nature, we do ultimately to ourselves. So let’s protect it. Let’s take very good care of it. Let’s cherish it every single day of our lives. As Gary Snyder once said, Nature is not a place to visit. Nature is home.” ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful