Finding calm in Brussels

As I’m sure most of you know, Brussels (my current city of residence) was struck by a horrible terrorist attack last week, March 22nd. The city is slowly getting back up on its feet, and people around me are trying hard to go on with their day-to-day lives. I am not going to elaborate on terrorist attacks, the media, or anything related to these events (because a quick google search will get you immediately caught up), but I would like to reflect and expand on the fellow humans that surround me.

I am currently sitting in a popular coffee shop that is only about half-occupied. On any other day before the attack, this place would be packed, but alas, empty chairs are a-plenty on this particular Tuesday. Up on the speakers are the soothing and uplifting sounds of The Beatles, and around me I can hear various quiet conversations. Some people are quietly discussing current events, and others are deeply consumed by their books and lap tops.

It’s very easy to get consumed by fear. Take it from a girl with generalized anxiety disorder (I am also prone to panic attacks) – the easiest thing to do right now would be to lock myself up at home and feed into dark thoughts. But alas, that isn’t what I’m doing, and I can see that my fellow co-habitants of this city are also resisting the urge to do so. Most people around me seem hopeful. There’s a glimmer of hope everywhere, from the baristas that are managing to keep a smile on their faces and are brightening everyone’s day, to the quiet boy who is blatantly cramming for exams. Life just keeps going.

Recently, I have started dedicating chunks of my day for guided meditations. “Insight Timer” is a free app that my best friend just introduced me to. If you’re a meditation pro, or if you’re a newbie like me, you’re going to love this app. It has an awesome community component, so you can see how many people in the world (or even in your city) are meditating at the moment, and you can message people and thank them for meditating with you. I couldn’t rave about it any more if I wanted to. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, especially all of you great people that are prone to getting sucked up by your own thoughts.

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To my fellow people of Brussels, there are plenty of peace-loving humans around you that are going out of their way to create more harmony in this crazy world. If you’re reading this today and you desperately need to get out of your home and to a safe place, there is a mindfulness meditation session at Bon Jour Bruxelles tonight. I’m including the facebook event riiiight here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1695174040754650/
With thoughts of love and peace, I sign out today.
-PositivelyCurvy

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Flight anxiety: Tales of an adventurer

Airplanes: my one true love, and my absolute worst nightmare.

I am an adventurer with a bold spirit. I love mountains and rivers, valleys and hills, cities and streets, shops and parks. I love the beach, and I love the snow. New places excite me to no end. I used to be unable to sleep before flying, from the sheer excitement of embarking on a new adventure. I used to dream of soaring through clouds made of cotton, and floating mid-air with nothing but the sun above. I used to.

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Somewhere along the way, something changed. On a flight from Philly to Vegas, I sat stiffly in my plane seat and waited for take-off. My heart was beating way too fast, my palms were sweating, and worst of all – I felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Like someone was gripping my lungs with their bare hands. Where were these feelings coming from?

Nobody enjoys turbulence, but I used to just be able to ignore it. Seriously, the plane could shake however much it wanted to, and I would just look out the window, or scribble my way through a sudoku. On this particular flight, everything felt wrong. The moment we hit a rough patch right above Vegas, I broke down. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, all I could really do was cry. Tears were streaming down my face as turbulence shook the seat under me, not even that severely. All I wanted was to be safe on the ground where I could fill my lungs with the air they longed for. My parents tried to calm me down, but couldn’t understand why I was acting in this strange manner. I’ve flown frequently my whole life, often traveling overseas, and often traveling alone. Turns out, this was my first in-flight panic attack.

That was half a year ago, and since then, I’ve flown 9 more times. My life has always consisted of movement and travel, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Unfortunately, the panic and fear got worse before it got better. I’m well aware of the fact that, yeah – airplanes are safer than cars, and yeah – turbulence isn’t a life-or-death situation. Reading reassuring fact on the internet did not help me one bit. I tried tackling the problem (and failed) so many times before I made some fairly minimal progress.

What makes me feel better:

I don’t want to lie and tell you that my flight anxiety is cured, because that would be a lie. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to manage it (for the most part). A piece of cloth with lavender essential oil on it (it relaxes me and calms me down), a pair of headphones (to make the plane noises softer, rather than for music), and breathing exercises. The most important of these is definitely the last one.
Breathing exercises have been a life-saver for me. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 7, breathe out for 8. In 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, out 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Simple, but effective.

I also prefer to travel alone. While traveling with someone can be comforting, I find that when people worry and care for me, it makes me all the more anxious. A stranger on the other hand, is someone you can make a fool of yourself in front of, because you’ll probably never see them again. I can’t even fathom the amount of wonderful strangers that have held my hand as I’ve tried to take control of my anxiety. Thank you, you nice people.

*Pro tip: if you inform the flight attendants about your anxiety beforehand, they’ll give you free alcohol, which is never a bad thing.

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If you take anything away from reading this post, let it be one thing:

Fear attracts fear. The moment you learn to control it, is the moment you’ll learn to be free. 

Now, go hike those mountains. Play in the sand, run through the snow, spend the day at central park, or make love under the stars. Just try not to get caught.

 

-PositivelyCurvy

Anxiety and Depression: Neither here nor there

Do I have a loaded post for you today. Oof.

Hello, hi! How are you? I hope you are doing well. I, myself, have been in a sort of “funk” lately. It’s not really fair to call it a “funk” because it kind of diminishes the seriousness of what’s going on. I was diagnosed with depression when I was twelve years old. I really can’t even fathom the fact that that was ten whole years ago. I was on anti-depressants for three years, and have officially been off of them for seven. I generally cope well with life, and thus, not many people around me know that I have suffered, or let alone that I continue to suffer from depression. Something I’ve written continuously about on this blog (maybe not written per se, but definitely scattered around) is the fact that I have also been battling fairly severe anxiety for the last six or seven months.

It would be ridiculous to claim that I know how anybody who’s going through a similar situation to me feels, so I’m going to talk to you about my experiences of dealing with depression and anxiety simultaneously. To put it shortly – it blows. I’m always stuck with a weird pressure in my chest, which feels anything but physical. A lump in my throat that I can never really get rid of. Everyday feels like an internal battle that’s even harder to fight than the day before. I want to be active and productive, but most days I can’t. For instance here how this morning went:

8:00am Wake up
9:30am Still in bed
10:15am Get up, make coffee, accidentally put too much Stevia in it, dump it out, back to bed
11:00am Fight myself on whether or not to get up and do something productive. I’ve resorted to going into coffee shops to do my work because otherwise there’s no way I’d be getting anything done. Guilt myself into getting up because otherwise I feel like a worthless human being.
11:20am – 12:00pm Get up, brush my teeth, start to apply make up on, get dressed, put shoes on.
12:05pm Lose all of the will I’ve amped up and sit down on my bed for “a minute”
12:10pm Kick shoes off and go wrap myself in my blankets, being careful to not get a lot of my make up on my white sheets.
12:35pm Feel so awful about not being able to push through, that I drag myself out of bed, put my shoes back on and leave the house before I have to change my mind once again. I walk to the cafe, thinking “Damn it, I should have stayed home”, but I keep going because I know that this is just another destructive internal dialogue.
1:08pm I’m here, and I’m so glad I am because otherwise I would have still been in bed, fighting the urge to cry (which happens fairly frequently).


And this, my friends, is the norm. My condition, mild as it is, is weighing me down immensely. It’s like doing a balancing act between constant anxiety, racing thoughts, racing heartbeat, all the works, and a field of nothingness, as far as the eye can see. I’m not always sad, but I am constantly battling whatever this is. I’ve found that getting into a TV show and binge-watching it gives me an escape of sorts. Sadly, it’s a fairly unhealthy escape.

Have any of you had any experience with mental illness? Let me know in the comments.

-PositivelyCurvy

Yoga: Making time for yourself

Hi friends!

I officially have my computer back, and will now be working hard to get back to a regular posting schedule. Not having a computer for a week and a half, along with not much else to do, left me with a lot of free time. I’ve always wanted to get into yoga, but haven’t had much luck when it comes to classes. The classes I’ve attended were all either too intense or too fast-paced, so I knew I wanted to find something that would work better for me. I stumbled upon the most amazing yoga YouTube channel, and I thought I would share it with you guys!

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The YouTube channel is called “Yoga with Adriene” and it has so many videos, that vary in both intensity and length. I’ve been sticking to the videos that are for absolute beginners, but there are quite a bit of videos for yoga aficionados as well! Adriene is very easy-going, positive, and relaxed – and this is something that has been pulling me back to her videos just about every day. Whether I can only afford to do 20 minutes in the morning, or if I can dedicate 40 minutes or even an hour – her videos have me covered.

If you’ve been tense, stressed, or even if you just want a few minutes of the day that you can dedicate to yourself – give the beginners video a shot. It might not be for you, but it also might be just the ritual that you’re missing from your busy (or not so busy in my case) day.

I will talk to you all very soon!

-PositivelyCurvy

Autumn: Things to appreciate

Rather than a structured post, today I’m coming to you with a ramble. I intended to write three posts a week, and this week’s accomplishments will be no different. But as always, life happens and I am now left with a shattered MacBook screen. There’s no real point in crying over it, so instead I made a list of things that I appreciate this time of year.
1. Big, comfy, cozy sweaters

2. Dark muted lipsticks (Rimmel Kate 107, Mac Velvet Teddy)

   

  3. Hot coffee in the morning, hot tea in the afternoon

   
4. The smell of sugar, apples, and cinnamon cooking in the oven

5. Coloring books 

  
6. The flicker of candles in my bedroom

7. Americana, folk, and music that wraps my soul in a big hug

8. Yoga and deep relaxation while it rains outside

9. Curling up with a good book

  
10. Hand-writing letters to good friends

11. The smell of frosty woods

12. Dipping ham&cheese toasties in vegetable cream soup

13. Having a good lonely cry

14. Cute texts to wake up to every morning

15. Moisturizing face masks

16. Lush baths

17. Hearty breakfast bowls (and instagramming them)

  
Till next time,

Positively Curvy

Room tour: Creating a calm space

Hello friends!

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I recently moved to Brussels, Belgium. After years and years of living in cramped dorms, I was faced with the awesome opportunity to create and decorate a room for myself. Since I frequently write, it was really important for me to have a desk / office space in my room. The only other thing that I needed to ensure, is that I would create a space for myself that promoted calmness as well as inspiration and creativity.

So, welcome to my room! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires some of you.

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Let’s start off with the window / desk space. I got pretty much everything you see from Ikea (except for the Swell water bottle, which is my favorite thing ever). Gotta love Ikea.

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The next section I want to talk about is my bed area. I didn’t get much of a say in picking the actual bed (it was already in here), so aside from the fact that it’s a little bit small, I have managed to make it super cozy. The pillows again, are from Ikea. The blanket and the wall decor are all from Maison du Monde in Brussels. The cute slippers are from Primark, and my notebooks are from Madison Modern Market in Madison, Wisconsin.

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And last but not least, I have the middle section of my closet completely open, and I use it as a decorative / visual space.
Here you can see my St. Lawrence diploma, some books, notebooks, a coloring book, some light training weights, trashy magazines, and two storage boxes.

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I still have room to decorate more, so if there’s anything you think would fit in really well, please let me know in the comments! I hope you guys enjoyed this little tour.

Till next time,

-Positively Curvy

Creativity & Calmness

Hi friends!

Today I’m coming to you with a blog post that’s a bit different from the usual, but it’s something that has really helped me in terms on mental health, and that’s painting. Now, don’t back away immediately with the thought “Nope, I’m not an artist, this isn’t going to happen”, because I am so so far from an artist myself. I actually suffer from anxiety (more severely as of recently) and I’m always on the lookout of things to do that will keep my mind from racing. Recently I’ve discovered an easy way to calm my thoughts, get away from electronics from a bit and generally spend some quality time with myself – and that’s through coloring books!
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I haven’t had a coloring book since I was very small, but it really is a no-brainer when it comes to being creative with minimal amounts of talent. Another gem I’ve re-discovered? Water colors. They’re so easy and clean and fun to work with, I’m obsessed.

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I haven’t dabbled in the world of coloring books too much, but the one that I immediately fell in love with is called “Fantastic Cities” by Steve McDonald, and if you’re a travel junkie like myself – you will absolutely love this.

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Do you have a favorite way to destress?

-PositivelyCurvy