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! 🙂
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! 🙂
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.
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!
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! 🙂
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 “hey. I 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:
As we jump into a new week (and soon into a new month), I would like to leave you here what I wish I was told last night when I was struggling to fall asleep.
You are a whole being. You are not someone who is broken or who needs to be fixed. You are not someone who is not good enough or unworthy. You are whole.
Where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Even if you everything . Trust the timing of your life and, most importantly, trust yourself.
Put your thinking mind at rest. (Over)thinking just creates problems that would not even exist in first place if only we were present. (Over)thinking just perpetuates resentment, guilt and pain. So, my dear one, take a deep breathe and know you are safe. Know that you are already whole. Know that you are everything you need to be.
It is Friday evening and as we are heading into the weekend, this is a great time to share a short self-reflection post.
A great podcast episode that I was listening earlier today made me have this aha moment. It made me realise that whenever I am not able to fix something in my life, I can get really fixated and obsessed with trying to solve it. I can get so forceful that I end up by losing sleep over it, which in turn makes me feel hopeless and frustrated. Subsequently, I am not able to think it through because my mind is unsettled. I guess that I easily forget that forcing my way through things often repeals the very outcome I want to achieve.
I consider myself as a doer, a go-getter but I acknowledge that does not always work in my favour. When I do something that does not come natural to me (i.e. it is forced), I usually experience some anxiety, stress and overall emotional turmoil. However, when my actions are in natural response to the flow of what is happening around me, I feel calm, still and at ease. I am in alignment with the flow of life, with the flow of the Universe and I feel grateful.
That being said, today’s self-reminder is that it is in the letting go that I can achieve serenity. It is in the letting go that I can heal from inside out.
Hope you all had a great start to the new year. Let me start this blog post with a quote that, from my standpoint, carries deep meaning:
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”– Brené Brown
2018 was a year of countless ups and downs, many blessings in disguise, a myriad of lessons learned and, above all, tremendous growth. 2018 has taught me that all feelings are safe and that it is okay to be vulnerable. 2018 has forced me to realise that my mental blocks are what keeps me to welcome true healing. 2018 has showed me how I can benefit from being more intentional and mindful with my time; in other words, it has showed me how important it is to be present, really present. It has also showed me that I should be celebrating my small wins because they result from challenging myself, which is what ultimately keeps me going. Even though I am still learning to take each day as it comes, I know that I am in such a better place today than I was one year ago. I am still in the process of coming to terms with myself but I am proud of my progress and of how far I have come. So, my dear 2018, I am now ready to let you go, to leave you behind and move forward onto new experiences and challenges. And as I move forward, my sweet 2018, I am leaving with you the fears and uncertaintes that have become so deeply rooted in myself that they almost fooled me to believe that they were actually somewhat me. Anyway, that does not matter anymore because I acknowledge that it is not true. I surely do not need those fears or uncertainties, which are nothing more than self-limiting beliefs, to feel secure or more like myself. While it is true that there is still plenty of inner work to be done, it is also undeniably true that I am on the road to healing and there is no going back.
In 2018 I have started this beautiful (though not easy) journey of self-rediscovery, of re-connecting within and of finding peace within myself again. In 2018 I have fallen in love with nourishing and nurturing my body. Subsequently, I have been increasingly feeling a deep sense of connection with it and I am so happy about it. For now, my biggest intention for 2019 is to learn how to let things fall into place, to let each day unfold and to let life flow naturally. I want to learn to wait without anxiety and trust in the process of life.Thus, dear 2018, I appreciate you for all that you were and for having shown me what truly matters in life but… I am now letting you go.
Dear 2019, I welcome you with arms wide open and a grateful heart. I am ready to embrace all the unexpected changes and the newness that you will bring into my life.
Sometimes it is hard to completely switch my mind off of work mode the minute I leave the office. Oftentimes it feels like I need an entire day just to unwind from a hectic week at work. That is why I make sure that every now and then I have a slow weekend that I can I use to fully recharge for the week to come. My first weekend of December was just like that. I had two and half days all for myself and trust me, they did wonders to my mind, body and sould. Hence why I am here today to share it with you.
I headed to the gym for an evening workout when I left the office and decided to combine my fitness session with the start of what I expect to be a compulsively readable and exciting thriller book.
After the gym, I headed right away to the Nederlands Dans Theather to attend/watch a dance performance from “Significant Moments”. A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me the ticket and I am so grateful for it. I was in complete awe with the group’s absolutely amazing performance from the beginning till the end. The human body really is capable of so much beauty and is just art in itself. I loved it all, from the dynamic, amazingly coordination and energetic pieces infused with humour to the show of lights, sounds and rhythm. A gorgeous concoction of ballet, hip hop, modern dance and acting. This is what I call “starting the weekend right”.
As I was biking my way home, I found myself in this cycling road and had to take a picture. The bare trees were looking so Christmassy and pretty with the fairy lights! It made me realise how I feel overall “lighter” and joyful when I allow myself to stop, look around and find beauty in the small things of life.
Morning Breakfast before heading to my cardio/strength training class at the gym: vegan and gluten free mini pancakes paired with coconut yoghurt and fresh blueberries. When I think I might fancy some pancakes for breakfast, I usually prepare them the night before so that all I need to do next morning is to pop them in the oven and eat! Quick, simple and without the need of rushing. I know, I know…they might not look like the prettiest pancakes but they were still tasty and crispy regardless! Plus, ugly pancakes are just as delish as perfectly golden and round ones!
Despite the gym class being quite physically intense (as per usual), it was still great fun! It is amazing how the instructor makes every class so entertaining with his cheerful mood and energy. There are moments when it does not even feel like you are working out. You just go with the flow, have a great time and end the class with a big smile (and ok a sweaty and red face too).
After my gym class, I caught a train to a nearby city, where I had never been before, and went for some much needed Christmas shopping. The city is called Amersfoort and is just 15 minutes away from where I live.
It was a short train journey but I still managed to do some reading and eat my homemade wrap for lunch. This is usually the meal I go for whenever I know I am gonna need a lunch on the go. It is simply a carrot wrap filled with mushroom-based mince meat from Quorn, green onions, spinach and cilantro. It was very yummy and it totally hit the spot!
One of my goals for this year was to explore not only more of Europe but also more of the country where I live. Thus, I was glad to cross another Dutch city off my bucket list just before the end of the year! Despite having been caught up in the rain and getting soaking wet (which is not that unusual anyways lol), it was a well-spent afternoon roaming and wandering around the unknown streets of Amersfoort.
I also got to explore a new cafe, something I absolutely love to do whenever I have the chance. The cafe is called “Barista cafe Amersfoort” and is it not so quaint and cozy> The staff could not have been friendlier and the atmosphere radiating Christmas vibes was so lovely and inviting.
I ordered myself a decaf cappuccino with unsweetened almond milk and a slice of dairy and gluten free toasted banana bread with cranberries, almond flakes and hazelnuts. The cappuccino was perfectly served and the banana bread just scrumptious. They both provided me that extra shot of motivation and, as a result, I was able to have a productive afternoon working on new content for the blog. I don’t know about you guys but I have always loved working in coffeeshops. I find that they enhance both my creativity and concentration levels.
Because I was enjoying my time at the cafe so much, I also decided to ordered a fresh ginger tea with lemon (one of my favourites).
When I left the cafe and made my way back to the train station, I managed to capture the last bit of autumn.
As it was super cold outside, when I got home I went straight to the shower and then put on some fuzzy socks and my comfy pjs. After feeling all nice and cozy, I made myself a nourishing dinner: chickpeas pasta, green beans, mushrooms, baked mustard tofu, watercress leaves and fresh cilantro. Just what my body was craving. I ate it whilst catching up on the last episode of “This is Us”. Any other fans of this show out there?
After a restful night of sleep, I woke up on Sunday morning and headed to the yoga studio, which is just a short walk from my house. I love doing a Power Yoga class first thing in the morning because it not only gives me mental clarity but also because it allows me to start my day in a positive light. Sunday is the only day of the week where I skip breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. It is advisable to practice yoga in the morning on an empty stomach. Having food in the digestive system can disrupt the overall yoga practice as it interferes with the rhythm of the body. Doing yoga poses take energy away from the digestive system and, if we have food is in our digestive tract, its capacity to digest becomes limited.
After my yoga practice, which once again did wonders to my mind, body and soul, I was craving some real homemade comfort food. So, as for my post yoga refuel, I had this bowl of couscous paired with a mushroom and cauliflower stew. I topped it all off with fresh cilantro, some squeezed lemon, cracked pepper and toasted pine nuts. It was so tasty and it just goes to show that plant-based eating does not have to be dull or boring at all.
One of the things I love the most about being at home during the weekend is to have the time to really tune in with my body, listen to the foods it craves and feed it accordingly. Plus, nothing beats nourishing our bodies with a homemade and hearty meal made with love and care, am I right or am I right? ♥
December is here, which means that Christmas is officially less than a month away and therefore it is most definitely not too soon to pop on a Christmas film and begin to feel festive! Yay. Plus, it was super cold and wet outside… and what’s better than staying in and watching movies when the rain is beating down?
I watched the movie “The Man who invented Christmas”, which tells the story of how Charles Dickens created “A Christmas Carol”. It is a lovely story and I recommend anyone who sees this season as special and somewhat magic to watch it.
Also, when the weather is not working in my favour, I love a good book to snuggle up with. So after watching the movie, I have finished reading the book “The Universe has your back” whilst sipping a cup of hot camomile tea. I absolutely loved it and it was just the perfect way to end the rainy Sunday.
This relaxing weekend left me refreshed and ready for the new month and for everything that it holds. How amazing is it that each month offers us the chance to start fresh, with a new mindset, focus and intentions? This slow start to December reminded me of how important it is to give myself a little grace, turn off my ” go go” mentality, put aside my to-do list and just unwind. After all, with our busy lives and only some precious little time away from the grind, we need to make every moment of our free time count. The best way to do it is by making time for the things and people that make our soul happy and our life more fulfilled.