Hitting rock bottom.

I think that all of us, at some point in our lives, eventually hit rock bottom; whether that happens in our personal or in our professional sphere; or even all at once. I think that those who have been there already, would agree that hitting rock bottom can leave us feeling quite hopeless because the idea of  bouncing back again may seem rather out of reach but… what if hitting rock bottom is what we need to find ourselves again and find out who we really are? What if hitting rock bottom shows us the way forward? What if hitting rock bottom turns out to be nothing more than a blessing in disguise?

A lot happened during the first half of last year. I lost myself trying to find myself. I went through countless ups and downs and I eventually hit flat-out rock bottom at some point. That forced me had to face myself as well as all my fears and insecurities. Subsequently, that led me to question everything that I ever thought to be unquestionably true. Almost a year has passed now and I look back at that time of struggle with a deep feeling of gratitude and self-compassion. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how to appreciate everything good – great in fact – that I have in my life. I have also come to realise that sometimes all we need is to actually hit rock bottom and that is why I am here today. I will be sharing in this post why I personally think that hitting rock bottom does not have necessarily be a bad thing and and what are some of the things that are important to keep in mind when we find ourselves at the bottom.

  • Hitting rock bottom has the potential of showing us all our dysfunctional behaviours. It is pointless to keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. It is useless to delude ourselves into thinking that everything is just great when, deep down, we know pretty well it is not. So, by hitting rock bottom I was able to see things in another light and realise that if I want a different outcome then I must change the process.
  • Sometimes we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. I had to let go of habits that were no longer serving me so I could welcome empowering and positive new ones into my life.
  • At the beginning, when I hit rock bottom, I felt lost and clueless about how to make my way up again, how to bounce back but then I just remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. I just trust that my pain was temporary and try to see the bottom as a springboard that I could use to push myself up. It worked.
  • When you hit rock bottom and hence, your lowest point, you can rest assured that  your situation can only get better from there. When you cannot sink any lower, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? As the saying goes “It is all uphill from here“.
  • Give yourself time to understand what the situation you are into means to you, embrace the chaos and the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Do not focus on how you feel but on how you want to feel instead. That it is what ultimately will get yourself out of the bottom.

 If you are going through something difficult and have hit rock bottom, I hope this post has given you some hope and served as a good reminder that this is just temporary. You are going to rise above whatever adversities life has thrown at you. Trust the process.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

“I am entirely up to me.”

I am entirely up to me.

 

Six simps words that carry a strong message.

I am indeed entirely up to me. I do not want to watch life passing me by. Just over a half year ago, I have made this very important conscious decision of committing to myself (and to my life for that matter). Every morning I choose to stay committed, regardless of how easy or hard it comes to me. I am in such a better place than I was 7 months ago and I feel both very proud and thankful. I have been focused on doing everything I do with greater intention: working, eating, moving my body, meeting and connecting with people, traveling, reading and writing/blogging. I have also been paying closer attention to my surroundings and to the things I do so I can better grasp whether they build me up or drag me down. Numbing out to deliberately avoid dealing with my emotions and feelings is no longer an option for me. Rather than just mindlessly living, I want to be present because life is happening “here and now”.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

A great start to September.♥ 

Due to having a father who is an artist, art has always played a huge role in my life. Dad has always motivated me to continuously develop my creative self and see the world as an amazing art masterpiece. Also, due to his influence, going to art museums and galleries has been a rather normal thing to do in my free time ever since I was a little child.

As someone who loves to behold art in all forms, I feel incredibly lucky (and grateful) to live just a short 30-mins train journey away from, what are in my opinion, some of the best museums we have in Europe. To mark the beginning of September – hands down my favourite month of the year – I decided to take the train to Amsterdam and have some quality time at the Stedelijk museum. After all, we must spend our time doing what we love (as often as we can) because life is way too short to be wasted doing things that do not make us happy.

My Saturday actually started in a busier way than usual. A friend of mine slept at my house from Friday to Saturday and I had to wake up quite early to help her getting ready for a wedding. When she left my house, I went to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym and afterwards I just made my way to Amsterdam. Stedelijk, the largest museum of modern and contemporary art and design in The Netherlands, has been on my list of must-see museums in the country for quite some time. So happy for making time to finally visit it!

I find it so important to make room in our lives for art because it gives us meaning. It helps us to understand the world around us and, if we let it, art has the power to enable us to have a life that is richer in purpose, joy and creativity.  I love the fact that certain works of art can show us exactly what we are scared of expressing and admitting. Plus, there is something so special about stepping inside an art gallery and loosing myself in unknown shapes, colours, textures and stories. ♥

Visiting an art museum that was knew to me really made my Saturday afternoon. I thought I’d share with you the photos of some of the favourite things I saw at Stedelijk museum:

 

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… and, finally, I got to see the original painting from Mondriaan, one of the pioneers of abstract art.

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I also learnt that the studios in The Netherlands and France where Mondriaan lived reflected the way he painted and expressed himself ins his paintings (i.e. geometrism and grids of black, white and primary colours). I guess that this shows that the environment we create around us really is a reflection of our state of mind.

 

Last but definitely not least, here is something that I read about how art – as we know it today – emerged in the Netherlands and that is so worth-sharing:

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Concept became more important than form; everything could, and art could be everywhere”. How beautiful. ♥

 

 

I hope this post served as a reminder of how important it is to do things that inspire us and make our soul happy. Have a lovely Sunday and great start to the week x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

 

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

Wednesday, 14th February: the Happiest day.

I had the happiest day in a long time just about two-three weeks ago. I can’t even put into words how blessed and grateful I felt on Wednesday, the 14th February. These feelings were not really connected with the fact that it was Valentine’s Day because I can happily say that my partner shows his love and support all year round.

When I went back home for Christmas last year I took some blood tests (as I regularly do when I go back home) and some of the results came back worrying. My family doctor said that the underlying causes could possibly be overexercise, stress and my diet (nutritional/vitamin deficiency). I got so concerned and I have never felt so much fear for my health or my life for that matter…All I wished was these causes to be true because that meant that my health as well as my overall wellbeing were therefore on my hands.

My doctor advised me to change a few things in my lifestyle, especially when it came to my diet and physical exercise, and told me that I should repeat the blood tests within roughly one month. So during 5-6 weeks, I tried to focus all my energy in getting better. Instead of thinking about how I was feeling, I tried to shift my attention and thoughts to how I ultimately wanted to feel. I knew what I had to do but let me tell you guys: Abstracting myself from the toxic and negative thoughts whilst remaining with a positive attitude proved to be much easier said than done. Some great things have happened since December but there was always these constant feelings of anxiety and fear playing on the back of my head. There were days when it was so daunting to have it all together at work and in front of other people. Anyway, I knew that I needed to be mentally strong and take action if I wanted to restore my physical balance and health. After all, our bodies and minds are like significant others.

I started by giving my body total rest from the gym for basically two weeks and used that time to enjoy the company of my caring boyfriend and friends; I went out to try some new restaurants in town and just indulged in great food without being constantly worried about what I ate or my working out routine. I have also incorporated yoga/meditation back into my lifestyle and made sure that I had enough sleep. I started taking some essential vitamins and minerals such as copper, zinc, vitamin A & B12 and, mostly important, I started not only to eat a greater quantity of food but also a more diverse diet. As a result, I saw myself starting to let go of the negative stigma that I have previously developed towards certain foods.

Due to having digestive issues (caused by my IBS), I tend to follow mostly a low FOD-mad diet which, in the long-term, turned out to be quite restrictive and made me develop fear and anxiety towards certain groups of food. As someone who loves to work out, who has a very active and stress-inducing lifestyle and who has gut issues, I should make sure that I do not overdo myself. However, I guess that I fell into a routine that even though fitted my lifestyle, was not adequate or good to my health. I ended up by overexercising and undereating during many months in a row(without being 100% conscious of it). All in all, I ended up by neglecting myself and my medical results showed exactly that: I did not give my cells the nutrition they needed to function properly.

 

Nevertheless, I now know how crucial it is to change my perception of food and of physical exercise. I now recognise that everything that is not done in moderation for a long period of time has its repercussions.

Fortunately, when I repeated the blood tests in the beginning of February, the results came back normal. I can’t even describe the happiness and relief that I felt. The waiting for the results was absolutely excruciating. It was like I was carrying the weight of the entire Planet on my shoulders.. but when I left the doctor’s office I heaved a huge sigh of relief. It was like I had gained my life back, you know?

If there is something that this experience taught me is that we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over gain and expect different results.This experience acted as a catalyst for changing my course of action and taking ownership of my health, which is something that I cannot take for granted. I am determined to listen to what my body needs; whether that means giving it more attention, respect, rest or food/nutrients.  I am determined to listen to its needs so it can thrive and fully heal. Even though my health recovery is still a work in process, I am now in a better place where I am finally feeling myself healing. I am finally letting go of thoughts that do not serve me. I am finally freeing myself from what holds me back and there is NO better feeling than that one. I just need to make my health my number one priority going forward and I am aware that, knowing myself as I do, this will not always be an easy task. I get worked up easily and end up by putting too much focus on my work, physical exercise and on the million things that I want to get done. However, overdoing myself and destroying my health for that is just not worth. This “go go mentality” is no longer serving me. I need to be more mindful, slow down when my body asks to and let go of what I can’t simply control.

The other day I read this one quote that resonated so much with me and with this situation that I have just experienced. It was: You grow through what you go through. This is so trueSometimes we need to undergo unfortunate events to see life through other lens. Toxic situations help us to put things in perspective and instigate much needed changes in our lives. We all want to leave a joyful and meaningful life but oftentimes we forget that our daily actions, which may be seemingly irrelevant, trivial and unimportant, are what is going to take us there.

That being said, I just want to add another thing as a final note:  We must remember to be gentle with ourselves. At all times. In a world that sells dissatisfaction, we must choose to honour and respect our body. It is so silly how it is so much easier to bash it than to embrace and accept it. Our bodies deserve nothing more than awe, good care and admiration. So, let’s all appreciate them and make this one life that we have count, shall we? ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Sometimes ditching the routine is exactly what we need.

It is a cold and grey Saturday in The Netherlands. I woke up this morning, stepped into my yoga mat and did a beautiful and gentle fusion of Vinyasa, Kundalini and Yin Yoga. I normally wake up, make breakfast and head to the gym to my usual cardio intercalated with strength training workout session. However, after a long and tough week at work, where stress and anxiety were a constant, I felt like it was time to slow down and reconnect with myself. Practicing yoga as the first thing in the morning really helped me to set my breath for the day as well as my mental tone.. and, let me tell you guys, breaking the routine from time to time is great and needed. I am so glad for having had this slow start to the weekend. I see Yoga as cultivating love and compassion for myself. It allows me to find peace within myself whilst washing away not only my fears but also my troubling and negative thoughts. Today’s mantra was: “I am not my feelings. I am the space behind them” and oh boy, did I need to hear this? YES. I really needed to be reminded of this as I seemed to have forgotten it for the past few weeks.

Breaking my usual Saturday morning routine made wonders to my mind and soul. After all, how can we evolve if we keep doing the same things over and over again? We need to open up our horizons in order to see the world with different eyes. And sometimes breaking our routine is all that takes to reach that. 

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful